We all worry about our pets’ health. Our pets are like our children. When they are sick, we feel horrible, especially if the sickness is due to a foodborne illness stemming from our home.
Unfortunately, foodborne illness including Salmonella-related illness sometimes occurs in the home due to harmful bacterial contamination unrelated to the manufacturer.
Pet food and treats just like many other types of food can be susceptible to contamination if not handled or stored properly. There are a few simple things to keep in mind when handling pet food.
The Risks of Pet Food or Pet Treats Contamination
Salmonella is just one of the risks of pet food contamination. It can cause serious infections in dogs and cats.
In fact, if cross contamination occurs, people also face the possibility of serious infection, especially children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems. Salmonella in pet food and treats can potentially be transferred to people by ingesting (not part of MY diet—thank you very much) or even just handling contaminated pet food and treats.
By following a few simple and safe handling instructions, pet owners can reduce the likelihood of infection from contaminated pet foods and treats.
Pet Food Buying Tips
- Purchase pet products (canned or bagged) that are in good condition with no visible signs of damage to the packaging such as dents, tears, or discolorations.
- Check the expiration date on everything your buy your pet to eat.
Pet Food Preparation Tips
- Start with clean hands. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with hot water and soap before and after handling pet foods and treats.
- Wash pet food dishes and scooping utensils with soap and hot water after each use.
- Use a clean, dedicated scoop, spoon or cup to fill the bowl—not the dog’s dish.
Pet Food Storage Tips
- Refrigerate promptly or discard any unused, left-over wet pet food (cans, pouches, etc.). Refrigerating foods immediately keeps most harmful bacteria from growing and multiplying. Refrigerators should be set at 40 º F, which is the safe temperature for both the pets’ food and the pet owners’ food.
- Dry food products should be stored in a cool, dry place–under 80º F.
- Store dry pet food inside a clean, plastic container with a lid or use a super-sized canister that is also a dispenser. (Don’t discard the bag; in the event of a recall, you will need to check the product code or other pertinent information.)
- Dispose of old or spoiled pet food products in a safe manner (example: in a securely tied plastic bag in a covered trash receptacle).
Raw Food Diets
- Keep raw meat and poultry products frozen until ready to use.
- Thaw in refrigerator or microwave.
- Keep raw food diets separate from other types of food.
- Wash working surfaces, utensils (including cutting boards, preparation and feeding bowls), hands, and any other items that touch or contact raw meat, poultry or seafood with hot soapy water.
- Cover and refrigerate leftovers immediately or discard safely.
- Kitchen sanitizers should be used on cutting boards and counter tops periodically. A sanitizing solution can be made by mixing one teaspoon of chlorine bleach to one quart of water.
- Plastic or other non-porous cutting board should be run through the dishwasher after each use.
- Beware of any pet food or treats recalls. Periodically, pet owners should frequent sites like the FDA’s for a reliable and current list of pet food or treat warnings.
- Keep pets away from food storage and preparation areas.
- Keep pets away from garbage and household trash.
With just a few good habits, we can protect our beloved pets from getting ill due to pet food contamination in the home. Our pets can’t tell us what’s wrong when they don’t feel well, so we need to take the steps necessary to ensure ruling out pet food contamination.
Pet Super Store is always interested in our customers and their questions. Feel free to contact us whenever you have pet questions or needs.