With the recent announcement of pet food recalls it becomes important to understand the potential exposure to the salmonella bacteria and understand how to process and prevent an illness from the bacteria.
- Salmonella is a bacteria present in our food sources for both human and pets.
- Chicken supply is the most common protein that poses salmonella.
- Over 15% of the chicken supply in this country has the presence of salmonella bacteria.
- Usually animals are free of the signs of infection but may suffer from diarrhea.
- The infection can pass from human to pet or vice versa.
- Most common source of infection is found in poultry.
With this level of contamination it is best to assume that all raw chicken, whether for humans or animals, is affected. Other protein sources such as beef or pork can also be a source of infection even though the meat has been cleared for human consumption.
The message here is that salmonella bacteria is present in a variety of food sources. The presence of this bacteria in humans poses a higher threat than in animals due to the fact that the animals have a stronger stomach acid content and a shorter digestive system allowing it to dispose of the harming affects of the bacteria. (faster digestion, less exposure)
Natural foods always contain bacteria. Meat handling regulations are in place to minimize the risk of infection. Cooking raw food could reduce the potential risk to a negligible level but since mother nature has given the pet an immunity to this type of infection we don’t see the need to alter the protein content and damage the structural nature of the protein source whether it is chicken or any other protein source.
Now that we know it is present in our supply chain we best find ways to reduce the possibility of cross contamination to humans and to our pets. The best way to do that is to follow the proper manufacturing protocol that prevents the bacterial growth caused by improper handling. Temperature control is critical to slow down the growth of the bacteria. If the diets are manufactured in a temperature controlled environment it will be the first step to slow down the bacteria. Proper tempering of frozen ingredients, grinding and patty forming equipment temperature monitoring, and flash freezing techniques are the best safeguards to use to prevent the bacteria risk.
We the end user MUST use common sense when handling or thawing any raw meat. We must do this whether it is for human consumption or for our pets. Wearing rubber gloves to prepare the patties and using hot water sterilization of surfaces is a good idea. Current evidence shows that feeding a raw meat patty or raw meaty bones does not create unacceptable infection risks.