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Bacterial Concerns In Raw Meat

One of our biggest objections and concerns about switching to a raw meat diet is the hysteria over bacteria, viruses and parasites. It is assumed by the veterinary profession that microbes labeled as “pathogens” are always harmful and must be eradicated. Health department officials, following the advice of the veterinarian community continue to have prejudiced opinions against microorganisms labeled as “pathogens” and thus have based their raw food restrictions on erroneous statistics. Most health department employees, veterinarians, and scientists maintain a one-sided view of the bacterial controversy. They ignore existing data that proves that pasteurization does not provide food safety nor prevent disease, but in fact causes the disease. Question? why attack our bodies and our food as if they were inherently dangerous. An approach to present a case of zero tolerance for exposure to pathogens is not possible, because they are everywhere. Using a zero exposure policy to eliminate a possible risk is unmanageable. The existing regulatory policy is to be better safe than sorry. Sorry – in the real world this is not an appropriate solution. The government regulators are not responding to what is actually harming our pets. It is devastating to think that we could lose our raw food supply, that is our primal link to optimal health, because of government regulation of this supply chain.

posted by Rob Mueller

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6 Responses

  1. Rob,

    Thanks for this great post! The biggest objection I hear by non-raw feeders to my recommendation of a BARF diet have to do with bacteria! I take it with a grain of salt as I know that these concerns are of little risk compared to the health problems I would likely see in my dogs were I to feed them a commercial kibble.

    I too, am gravely concerned about government regulations deterring BARF providers such as the Dr. Billinghurst brand and how these regulations will affect the companies making the food and the consumers out there who rely on this brand for quality BARF feeding.

    Government regulations allow dangerous pharmaceuticals to be pumped into the general population daily, yet a proven diet of biologically appropriate food is deemed irresponsible.

    What a confusing world we live in.

    Thanks again, I always enjoy your posts.


  2. Mercedes Core, DVM

    I would like to make several comments about your post regarding bacterial concerns in raw meat from someone in the veterinary profession. As far as ‘hysteria’ over bacteria, viruses and parasites I would like to point out there have been multiple studies indicating dogs fed a BARF or partially raw diet continue to shed ‘pathogens’ which according to your article are not always harmful. I beg to differ as it has been proven in veterinary medicine as well as human medicine that these ‘pathogens’ such as Salmonella, E. coli, Campylobacter and assorted other bacteria are anything but harmless and are shed in the feces of pets being fed these raw diets. ‘Human grade’ ingredients and freezing DO NOT eliminate these pathogens. Freezing is actually a method of preservation of many of these pathogens.
    The diets also contain questionable ingredients such as garlic, broccoli and vegetables in the cabbage family- all of which are contraindicated in dogs and cats for various reasons. The vast majority the raw diets have been found by veterinary nutritionists to be nutritionally imbalanced- especially the calcium to phosphorus ratio, as well as other vitamins and minerals.
    The benefits seen by feeding BARF diets are usually attributable to portions of the diet other than the raw meat itself, such as increased water intake helping cats with lower urinary tract disease, or feeding a single unique protein and carbohydrate source which can show improvement in pets with food allergies. These same benefits however can be attained by feeding the correct commercial pet food.
    There are no scientific studies showing the benefit of raw meat diets- just anecdotes and testimonials. However there are numerous studies showing the harm (nutritional inadequacy, contamination, fecal shedding of pathogens, clinical infection of pets with pathogens and environmental contamination). I would urge the founders of this site as well as those feeding or considering feeding a BARF diet to look for scientific evidence (not anecdotes, testimonials or inflated language) that supports the feeding of raw diets. It doesn’t exist and this should be enough of a concern not to feed pets a raw diet.
    Stating that feeding the BARF based diets is how animals would naturally eat is ridiculous- I can’t imagine the authors expect one to believe that animals that we have so domesticated would fend for themselves in the wild. Imagine a standard poodle running down its dinner, killing and eating the cow after catching it, then moving to the vegetable patch and picking up some bok choy before heading to the citrus trees for a bite of grapefruit- it sounds absurd because it is.
    If people are interested in feeding their pets organic foods and not interested in commercial diets for whatever reason I support that- but the ingredients need to be cooked to protect both humans and animals, and the diet formula needs to be prepared by a board certified veterinary nutritionist to make sure it is correctly balanced for that pet. There are resources readily available for this purpose.
    The makers of these BARF diets are not veterinary nutritionists, and have not done scientific research- therefore I urge people considering this food to do the research for themselves, along with their veterinarian, before deciding this is the best choice for their pet.
    I can post the links to the studies sited above if anyone is interested.

    Mercedes Core, DVM

  3. Mercedes,
    I would like to also make a few comments regarding your concerns on what I have written in my blog. We obviously are on two different thought patterns regarding “pathogens”. You are labeling pathogens as harmful microbes that need to be eradicated. I believe that that is a false premise and an assumption.

    Anyone that is led to believe that pathogens are always harmful and must be eradicated is operating in the cerebral dark ages. I believe that you are prejudiced against microorganisms labeled as pathogens and have based your raw food restrictions on erroneous statistics and pseudoscience.

    The virtues of attaining zero exposure to pathogens cannot be proven to exist, yet people believe in pursuing that goal. Zero exposure to pathogens is not possible anyway, because they are everywhere.

    The real value of pathogens are their function. They are the clean-up and demolition crews for degenerative conditions. They appear as a response, not as the cause. Pathogens respond to decay within the body reversing or preventing disease that is more serious. They are the first stage of the cure. Eliminating pathogens, such as salmonella, campylobacter and E coli including 157:H7, forces decaying tissue to remain in the body, endangering the inner body environment. Our bodies gradually get sicker.
    We must comprehend that bacteria are absolutely everywhere and our bodies rely upon microbes for every healthy function.

    You are also questioning the ingredient content of our diets as inappropriate ingredients. It puzzles me that you would make this statement when you are not aware of any of the proportions used in the diet. I have successfully used this formulation for over three decades and have seen the results and the successes derived from using these ingredients.

    Your observation on the water content is valuable and I thank you for pointing that out. I personally feel that dehydration will always be a major disadvantage when feeding dry kibble. It becomes a more serious issue with cats.

    I would ask you—What is a correct commercial pet food? Is it the ones that have just been exposed and been engaged in major law suits and recalls? Is a correct commercial food one that has not been heat processed or manufactured without preservatives, fat sprays, palability enhancing chemicals- on and on!!!

    You are suggesting that scientific evidence is not available to support our claims- well I personally have over 32 years of gathering testimonials showing a reversal of major degenerative conditions that have been caused by feeding improperly formulated and biologically inappropriate heat processed kibble diets. We expect many studies will be forth coming once the results are in and gathered showing the outstanding reversals of many major conditions. Please see the Price-Pottenger study on cats and raw feeding which is scientific.

    You have argued against the physiology and appropriateness of feeding a cat or dog a raw food diet. You have obviously not paid attention to the dentition of both species and are not aware of the fact that their digestive systems are still functioning the same as they have for the last thousands of years. We have not converted their digestive systems to become grain eaters. They are designed by nature to be meat eaters and to expect their digestive systems to process grains is one of the major reasons why we have an epidemic of diabetes and obesity in the current day animals. It is because of a complex carbohydrate overload.

    Your recommendations that the diets should be cooked are totally against our philosophies. By cooking their food you are destroying the valuable enzyme content and make the existing proteins denatured to the point that that are called “dead food”. Little wonder that we see such a rise in veterinary care due to the inappropriate feeding of our pets.

    You have suggested that consumers should seek out board certified veterinary nutritionists. Perhaps you would like to supply consumers with a list of such qualified nutritionists.

    Being the formulator of the BARF World diets I have consulted with many of the nations top nutritional advisors to put together a successful formulation that works! I guess the proof is in the pudding. The results tell the story. Our diets have worked for 32 years and without recalls.

  4. Tim DElia

    I have a question about intestinal bacteria. My dog has been on BARF ever since the tainetd pet food scare. She is only 1 1/2 so still a pup. She had a bout of hook worm. After her medicine, she came down with a bacterial overgrowth. The vet indicated this is from the raw food. I found this to be unbelievable. Have you found any connection with the raw diet and bacterial overgrowth in the intestines?

    I have read that this could be from the worm medicine or even from the kennel she stayed at.
    Any help would be appreciated.

  5. Tony

    You say that animals we have domesticated can’t expect to live on a diet such as the BARF diet, but, what about hybrids? I have a 80/20 Wolf/Husky. I doubt her father, a 98% Timber Wolf, would have found kibble just lying around in the wild.

  6. I’m not sure where you received this information. I do believe that a hybrid dog can survive just fine on our BARF diet. Kibble is not the product of choice for this animal.

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