Raw pet food can contain E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella bacteria that can sicken pets and spread contamination causing illness in their people. Recent recall and outbreaks highlight these dangers.
For example, on April 4, Thogersen Family Farm of Stanwood, WA issued a recall for raw, frozen, ground pet food because of potential Listeria monocytogenes contamination. (Details in the Listeria Recalls section below.)
And an ongoing Salmonella outbreak linked to raw turkey products includes four people who had contact with raw turkey pet food. One of them, a young girl, developed osteomyelitis, a painful bone infection. She is one of several people sickened in this outbreak who are being represented by Pritzker Hageman, a national food safety law firm.
The current outbreak is not the first time an outbreak of human illness has been linked to food for pets. Contaminated pet food can spread germs to surfaces it contacts, including pet dishes, floors and even the pet itself. Salmonella can survive for weeks on these surfaces. When people feed their pets or touch these contaminated surfaces and don’t thoroughly wash their hands before touching their faces or eating a meal they can get sick. Dogs who have a Salmonella infection may not show symptoms but can shed the bacteria in their stool. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that people do not feed raw meat diets to pets.
Salmonella Outbreaks Linked to Dog Food
2018-2019 Raw Turkey Product Salmonella Outbreak
ON July 19, 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced an outbreak linked to raw turkey products for humans and pets. The outbreak has expanded to include 279 people in 41 states and 33 illnesses in Canada.
Those sickened have eaten or handled the contaminated raw turkey products, worked at facilities where these products are manufactured or live with someone who does. One hundred and seven people have been hospitalized, one person from California has died.
2012 Diamond Pet Food Salmonella Outbreak
In 2012, a 20-state outbreak was linked to multiple brands of dry dog food produced by Diamon Pet Foods. Forty-nine people were sickened, 10 of them were hospitalized. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported case totals by state as follows: Alabama (2), Arkansas (2), California (3), Connecticut (2), Georgia (2), Illinois (4), Indiana (1), Kentucky (1), Michigan (2), Minnesota (1), Missouri (3), New Jersey (2), New York (5), North Carolina (5), Ohio (3), Oklahoma (1), Pennsylvania (3), South Carolina (2), Texas (1), and Virginia (2).
Federal and state health officials tested bags of dog food and environmental samples collected from the company’s manufacturing facility in Gaston, South Carolina and found the outbreak strain of Salmonella Infantis. These test results prompted Diamond to issue a recall of dog and cat food made at the plant. The recall included 17 brands of pet food totaling more than 30,000 tons.
2006 Mars Petcare Salmonella Outbreak
A Salmonella Schwarzengrund outbreak linked to dry pet food produced by Mars Petcare sickened 62 people in 18 states between 2006 and 2007. The food was produced at a Mars Petcare plant in Pennsylvania.
Raw Pet Food Recalls
Over the last 15 months, there have been 18 recalls of dog food and treats for possible contamination with E. coli, Salmonella or Listeria monocytogenes, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Raw pet food, like the one linked to the current outbreak, is a frequent offender. Dutch researchers recently analyzed 35 raw, meat-based dog food products sold under eight brand names. They found that 23 percent of the samples were contaminated with E. coli, 20 percent were contaminated with Salmonella and 19 percent were contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. This frequency of contamination is why the CDC does not recommend feeding raw food to pets.
The ongoing raw turkey products Salmonella outbreak includes illnesses linked to two brands of raw pet food. Recalls have been issued for both products.
2019 Thogersen Family Farm Listeria Recall
The April 4, 2019, Thogersen recall for raw, frozen, ground pet food includes four kinds of raw, frozen dog food products: course ground rabbit, course ground mallard duck, ground llama, and ground pork. The recalled products were sold in two-pound packages with no identifying lot codes or expiration dates. At the time of the recall, no illnesses had been reported.
2019 Woody’s Pet Food Deli Salmonella Recall
On January 28, 2019, raw turkey dog food sold at Woody’s Pet Food Deli stores in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Woodbury was recalled for possible Salmonella contamination after officials health officials linked it an illness that is part of an ongoing outbreak. The 5-pound plastic containers labeled, “Woody’s Pet Food Deli Raw Free Range Turkey,” have white “use-by” stickers on the top of the container. Affected lot codes are 1/10/20, 1/12/20 and 1/15/20.
2018 Columbia River Natural Pet Foods
On December 21, 2018, Columbia River Natural Pet Foods of Vancouver, WA issued a recall expansion to include additional products of frozen pet foods because of potential contamination with Listeria and Salmonella. The recall now includes 261 packages of Cow Pie Lot # 72618 and 82 packages of Chicken & Vegetables Lot# 111518 that were produced between July 2018 and November 2018.
2018 Raws for Paws Pet Food Salmonella Recall
On February 5, 2018, Raws for Paws issued a recall for its Ground Turkey Food for Pet food products for possible Salmonella contamination after two children became ill. One of them was a young girl who developed osteomyelitis. The recalled product was packaged in one-pound and five-pound chubs and sold online from the company’s website and may have been resold elsewhere. Turkey Pet Food cases were marked with case codes of 9900008, 9900009. Pet Food Combo Pack cases were marked with case codes 9900014 and 9900015. Months after this recall, federal health officials discovered these illnesses were part of a multi-state outbreak.
UPDATE: This post was updated on January 30, 2019, to include information about product recall and illness linked to Woody’s Pet Food Deli in connection with an ongoing outbreak.
UPDATE: This post was updated on April 8, 2019, to include information about product recall information about Thogersen Family Farm raw pet food. And Columbia River pet food recall information.