Raw meat danger to pets and owners

Henrietta Strickland
January 13, 2018

"Cats and dogs that eat raw meat diets are also more likely to become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria than animals on conventional diets, which could pose a serious risk to both animal health and public health", he said.

Daniel Chan, professor of emergency and critical care medicine and clinical nutrition at the Queen Mother Hospital for Animals, who was not involved in the research, said the new study added to a growing body of evidence on raw meat diets for pets. The study also stressed that there is no difference in the possible danger between packaged, frozen meats and raw food prepared at home. In a new analysis of 35 commercial raw dog and cat foods, researchers found that 86% of products contained potentially unsafe bacteria.

T. gondii can cause disease in people, the researchers said. Researchers from Utrecht University and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands analyzed 35 commercially available raw meat products and found that they contained a menagerie of bacteria and parasites.

After thawing the meat, the scientists looked for the presence of salmonella, listeria, E coli and antibiotic-resistant E coli as well as two types of parasites: species of Sarcocystis and Toxoplasma gondii - a parasite that, among its risks can cause problems in babies. More than half of the food had listeria species present, 20% contained salmonella and 23% had sarcocystis - a parasite that causes anorexia, nausea and abdominal pain.

This is important, researchers say, because the bacteria and parasitic pathogens found in the food may possibly be a source of infection in pets, which may also become a risk for humans.

It is reported that humans could encounter bacteria from raw foods in several ways, including direct with the food or with an infected pet; through with contaminated household surfaces; or by eating cross-contaminated human food.

Raw meat diets are controversial, but in recent years it's becoming increasingly popular to swap canned food for "natural" raw meat.

But the study, published in Vet Record, exposes these so-called health benefits as "mostly anecdotal" which have not been properly studied.

The research team urged pet owners to educate themselves before handling RMBDs and feeding them to their pets. Some manufacturers say it's what dogs and cats would eat in the wild, claiming it will give them shinier coats, fresher breath, and higher energy levels.

Warnings and handling instructions should also be included on product labels and/or packages, they advise. In an email, the study authors said that raw-meat pet foods for sale in the United States are "without a doubt similar" to those tested in the study.

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