FDA Testing Pet Foods and Pet Treats for Salmonella


Over the past few years, there have been lots of pet food recalls – greatly due to concerns raised about salmonella contamination. Not only is this a concern for dogs and cats, it’s also a concern for people. It seems often there is a pet food recall, arguably too often. And the Food and Drug Administration is concerned.

So, FDA investigators has begun taking samples of dry pet food, pet treats and diet supplements from distributors, wholesalers and retailers like PetSmart, PetCo, WalMart, Costco, Sam’s Club and Target.

In fact, a memorandum released this week, the FDA indicated it is “particularly concerned about salmonella being transmitted to humans through pet foods, pet treats and supplements for pets that are intended to be fed to animals in homes, where they are likely to be directly handled or ingested by humans.”

In reality, salmonella occurring in people as a result of pet food is an exceedingly rare event. More common are all those news reports we hear about, salmonella in eggs, and other food items meant for people.

Not that salmonella shouldn’t be taken seriously….in fact, strains now are often immune to the most common anti-biotic therapies, and that’s pretty scary.

The FDA, though, pointed to Centers for Disease Control & Prevention data on pet foods that shows 70 people got sick from January 2006 through December 2007 in connection with salmonella-tainted dry dog food produced in Pennsylvania. Sure 70 people are significant – particularly if you’re among the 70. But statistically actually not significant compared to illness due to salmonella as a result of food meant to be consumed by people. And The FDA also hints they are concerned about people eating – yes I said eating – cat or dog food.

People turning to dog food for nourishment is “an urban legend,” said Duane Ekedahl, president of the Pet Food Institute in printed reports. Of course, he’s correct about that.

What does happen with those in programs like Meals on Wheels who happen to have pets, is that they share their food with their pets (not the other way around).  While here and there – I am sure some people have eaten pet foods, this is not an issue the FDA or anyone should be spinning their wheels on (though people can get salmonella from merely touching tainted food and then touching their mouths).