From the FDA

July 27, 2007

FDA is informing consumers of steps they can take to help prevent foodborne illness, including Salmonella-related illness, when handling pet foods and treats. Pet food and treats, like many other types of foods, can be susceptible to harmful bacterial contamination.

Salmonella in pet foods and treats can cause serious infections in dogs and cats, and, if there is cross contamination, in people too, especially children, the aged, and people with compromised immune systems. Salmonella in pet food and treats can potentially be transferred to people ingesting or handling contaminated pet food and treats.

While the FDA has stepped up its efforts to minimize the incidence of foodborne illness associated with pet foods and treats, it’s important that consumers be mindful of the potential risks. Pet owners and consumers can reduce the likelihood of infection from contaminated pet foods and treats by following some simple, safe handling instructions.

Buying Tips for Pet Food
  • Purchase products (canned or bagged) that are in good condition. No visible signs of damage to the packaging such as dents, tears, discolorations, etc.
Preparation Tips for Pet Food
  • Begin with clean hands. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with hot water and soap before and after handling pet foods and treats.
  • Wash pet food bowls, dishes and scooping utensils with soap and hot water after each use.
  • Do not use the pet’s feeding bowl as a scooping utensil – use a clean, dedicated scoop, spoon or cup instead.
  • Dispose of old or spoiled pet food products in a safe manner (example: in a securely tied plastic bag in a covered trash receptacle).
Storage Tips for Pet Food
  • Refrigerate promptly or discard any unused, left-over wet pet food (cans, pouches, etc.). Refrigerating foods quickly keeps most harmful bacteria from growing and multiplying. Refrigerators should be set at 40 º F. The accuracy of the setting should be checked occasionally with a refrigerator thermometer.
  • Dry products should be stored in a cool, dry place–under 80º F.
  • If possible, store dry pet food in its original bag inside a clean, dedicated plastic container with a lid, keeping the top of the bag folded closed.
  • Keep pets away from food storage and preparation areas.
  • Keep pets away from garbage and household trash.
Raw Food Diets

FDA does not believe raw meat foods for animals are consistent with the goal of protecting the public from significant health risks, particularly when such products are brought into the home and/or used to feed domestic pets; however, we understand that some people prefer to feed these types of diets to their pets. For the protection of both you and your pet, the FDA recommends the following when handling or using raw meat, poultry or seafood, for use in a pet’s diet:

  • Keep raw meat and poultry products frozen until ready to use.
  • Thaw in refrigerator or microwave.
  • Keep raw food diets separate from other foods. Wash working surfaces, utensils (including cutting boards, preparation and feeding bowls), hands, and any other items that touch or contact raw meat, poultry or seafood with hot soapy water.
  • Cover and refrigerate leftovers immediately or discard safely.

In addition:

  • For added protection, kitchen sanitizers should be used on cutting boards and counter tops periodically. A sanitizing solution can be made by mixing one teaspoon of chlorine bleach to one quart of water.
  • If you use plastic or other non-porous cutting boards, run them through the dishwasher after each use.