Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pet Food Recalls: How Do They Affect You and Your Pet

Ever since the melamine-related pet food recall of 2007 there has been an increased concern about the food we offer our pets. While a food recall is never something to take lightly (there are times when it is clearly warranted), these days it seems that the news is flooded with them. So what's the deal? Do pet food manufacturers just not care about what you feed your pets? Or are there more recalls simply because more eyes are focused on the industry? Below is an excerpt from an AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) newsletter outlining the issue regarding Salmonella related pet food recalls, the possible causes of the increase in recall numbers, and how it affects you and your pets.

So why all the concern regarding contaminated pet food products?  Since many pet foods and treats contain products originating from other animals they are at a higher risk of contamination with Salmonella, E. Coli, and other organisms. That being said, in general, these products are cooked to such a high temperature as to kill any of these unwanted organisms. However, if a contaminated additive (for example a flavoring) is added after the food is cooked then the final food will also be contaminated. While there are many safeguards to minimize the risk of these foods becoming contaminated if a product is suspected to be contaminated most reputable companies will perform a voluntary recall on their product.  Remember, most people in the pet food industry do have your pets health in mind.

It is also important to consider why there may be an increase in overall reporting in the industry. The first reason is the increased vigilance of the manufacturers and the federal government regarding Salmonella and other health concerns. This improved focus on the industry has lead to increased surveillance and reporting of problems when they occur. The second reason is that a new early detection reporting system has recently been launched for all food products, both human and pet. The Reportable Food Registry allows and requires immediate reporting of any safety problems with food and animal feed (including pet food). This has drastically reduced the time needed to detect and report safety concerns regarding food products.

Finally, be sure to protect your family by using common sense sanitary measures.  Although most pet foods are perfectly safe to handle the AVMA still recommends that you always wash your hands thoroughly after handling any pet foods or treats. In addition do not let very young children, immunocompormised adults, or the elderly handle these products excessively as they may be placed at a higher risk.  Be particularly cautious areound raw products such as raw hides and pig ear chews as these products are not sterilized like regular pet treats and food.  The AVMA also recommends that you do not prepare any pet food or feed your pet in the kitchen. This will help reduce any risk of cross contamination between the food you give your pets and the food you eat.  If you do feed your pets in the kitchen be sure to feed them as far away from the preparation area as possible.

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