Study finds raw diets for pets place animals, owners at risk

E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, parasites found

A new study by Utrecht University scientists, published in British veterinary journal Vet Record, found that raw meat-based diets (RMBD) for pets places owners at risk of serious disease.

The study, which analyzed 35 RMBDs from eight brands, revealed that E. coli 0157 was isolated from eight products (23 percent), Salmonella species in seven products (20 percent), and Listeria species were present in 15 products (43 percent). Four products (11 percent) found the parasite Sarcocystis cruzi; another four contained Sarcocystis tenella. Two products (6 percent) revealed Toxoplasma gondii.

Researchers also found evidence the raw meat harbored antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

“Despite the relatively low sample size of frozen products in our study, it is clear that commercial RMBDs may be contaminated with a variety of zoonotic bacterial and parasitic pathogens that may be a possible source of bacterial infections in pet animals and if transmitted pose a risk for human beings,” they added.

Pets fed RMBDs can pass pathogens to humans through direct contact, such as licking or brushing up against them, according to scientists. Researchers wrote that pathogens also can be transferred through direct contact with the food, through contact with household surfaces, or by ingesting cross-contaminated human food.

RMBDs include raw dried dog and cat treats such as pig ears, home-prepared meats based from food sold for human consumption and commercial raw meats marketed for pets. Researchers believe there is no evidence for any benefit of RMBDs compared to mainstream dry or canned pet foods and that raw meat-based diets may even be less nutritious.

“In nutritional terms, these diets are often deficient in several nutrients and may therefore lead to serious health problems, especially in young animals that are growing,” according to the Utrecht study.

Because of the increased likelihood of pets fed RMBDs becoming infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria than animals on conventional diets, researchers issue dire warnings.

“The presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in RMBDs could therefore pose a serious risk to both animal health and public health—not only because infections with these bacteria are difficult to treat, but also because of the potential of it contributing to a more widespread occurrence of such bacteria,” researchers said.

“It is important to encourage awareness of the possible risks associated with feeding raw meat-based diets to companion animals, and pet owners should be educated about personal hygiene and proper handling of raw meat-based diets,” the study said, adding that education from veterinarians is a vital component.



7 thoughts on “Study finds raw diets for pets place animals, owners at risk

    1. I’m sure the researchers aren’t eating raw meat, so I’m not sure what you are trying to say. If owners were feeding cooked meat to their pets then this wouldn’t be an issue.

  1. The pet food industry is behind all this negative about raw / homemade diets.
    Anyone who has bothered to spend a little time educating themselves on commercial pet ….knows commercial food is full of risky/illegal ingredients.
    The pet food industry loves a dumb consumer.
    How is it – we can handle, prepare, consume these foods for ourselves but suddenly its too dangerous for us to handle, prepare, feed the same foods to our animals. Makes you wonder what the animals ate BEFORE the greedy pet food industry came along…I bet it wasn’t bags of corn, by products and mycotoxins.
    One of the most corrupt, lawless industries around…second only to big pharma.

  2. Uncooked vegetables pose more risk and kills more people than any of the above mentioned highly unlikely scenarios of pathogen transfer…in fact, 20 people died this month from eating raw spinach…how many died from touch meat? Its effin absurd to think its more dangerous to prepare my dogs dinner than it is to prepare my own dinner.
    Test results from commercially made pet food…will blow your mind! euthanized animals, chemicals, mycotoxins, arsenic, potato chips. Remember when pet food killed over 100,000 pets – it was the CDC who discovered the link to pet food after 16 people got poisoned/sick from handling pet food.

  3. What rubbish! I have been feeding species appropriate raw diets to my dogs for over 10 years with no problems. Have they not heard of washing ones hands? One should do that after handling any kind of foods or touching animals. And what about all the manufactured pet foods that are recalled for high levels of bacteria etc.? Just another ploy to scare people back to kibble.

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