Concerns about raw pet food, previously discussed, have resurfaced with the laboratory isolation of listeria in pet food subsequently recalled by J.J. Fuds, Inc., out of an abundance of caution, as reported on FDA’s website.

Notably, J.J. Fuds, Inc. received no complaints about the health of animals or people resulting from exposure to the pet food, and announced that “the recall was a result of a routine sampling program by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development resulting in a positive test for Listeria monocytogenes.”

According to the Center for Food Security & Public Health, “listeriosis is most common in ruminants (sheep, goats and cattle) but occasional cases have occurred in rabbits, guinea pigs, dogs, cats, pigs, poultry, canaries, parrots and other species.”  As a large animal veterinarian, I diagnosed and treated many sheep, goats, and llama infected with this bacteria, which, in these species, causes rapid-onset encephalitis which is often fatal.

The FDA has concerns about feeding raw pet food: “compared to other types of pet food, raw pet food is more likely to be contaminated with disease-causing bacteria, such as Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.”

Published guidelines on FDA’s website to prevent infection if handling raw pet food include:

  • Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water (for at least 20 seconds) after handling raw pet food, and after touching surfaces or objects that have come in contact with the raw food.
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect all surfaces and objects that come in contact with raw pet food. First wash with hot soapy water and then follow with a disinfectant. You can also run items through the dishwasher after each use to clean and disinfect them.
  • Freeze raw meat and poultry products until you are ready to use them, and thaw them in your refrigerator or microwave, not on your countertop or in your sink.
  • Carefully handle raw and frozen meat and poultry products. Don’t rinse raw meat, poultry, fish, and seafood. Bacteria in the raw juices can splash and spread to other food and surfaces.
  • Keep raw food separate from other food.
  • Immediately cover and refrigerate what your pet doesn’t eat, or throw the leftovers out safely.
  • If you’re using raw ingredients to make your own cooked pet food, be sure to cook all food to a proper internal temperature as measured by a food thermometer. Thorough cooking kills Salmonella, L. monocytogenes, and other harmful foodborne bacteria.
  • Don’t kiss your pet around its mouth, and don’t let your pet lick your face. This is especially important after your pet has just finished eating raw food.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands after touching or being licked by your pet. If your pet gives you a “kiss,” be sure to also wash your face.

CDC tracks food borne outbreaks and has identified seven investigations involving listeria from 2006-2014:

•Commercially Produced, Prepackaged Caramel Apples (2014) – Listeria monocytogenes

•Wholesome Soy Products Sprouts (2014) – Listeria monocytogenes

•Oasis Brands Cheese (2014)– Listeria monocytogenes

•Roos Foods Dairy Products (2014)– Listeria monocytogenes

•Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheeses (2013)– Listeria monocytogenes

•Frescolina Marte Brand Ricotta Salata Cheese (2012)–Listeria monocytogenes

•Jensen Farms Cantaloupes (2011)- Listeria monocytogenes