Pathogens

Contamination Concerns

Should I be concerned about salmonella (a bacteria)?

Yes.  People can get salmonella.  It is usually transmitted through food that has been in contact contaminated feces.  Contracting salmonella is a very harmful bacteria that lives in the intestinal tract causing diarrhea, stomach cramping and fever, as wells as chills, headache, nausea and vomiting, in about 8-72 hours after ingestion of the bacteria.  Salmonella is zoonotic, which means it can be transferred between humans and animals.  There are over 2,300 serotypes of salmonella.  Some strains can make people sick and some strains may not.  It usually doesn’t affect the appearance, smell or taste of food.  Salmonella can be life threatening, especially to those who have a weakened immune system, or those who are battling cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, kidney disease, and transplant patients, but it can also affect children, the elderly, or pregnant woman and their unborn babies.  

Salmonellosis: Is an infection cause by Salmonella.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), salmonellosis causes an estimated 1.4 million cases of food borne illness and more than 400 deaths annually in the United States.

Years ago, according to a news FDA release, the FDA stated “salmonella is not harmful to dogs” and agreed in the September/October 2000 issue of Consumer Magazine, that healthy pets rarely become ill from the bacteria, see FDA archives.  In recent years FDA’s stance on salmonella toxicity and your pet has changed.  

A dogs has a very acidic stomach.  Their system handles bacteria well because of the acid in their gut.  Dogs also have a short digestive system.  The acid neutralizes toxins and can eliminate food poisoning within minutes.  That’s why you see animals eating rotten prey/roadkill without getting sick like humans do with spoiled food.  The acid enhances the permeability for digestion, helps circulatory, and benefits cell membranes, it also has the ability to dramatically reduce toxins in the environment such as herbicides and pesticides.  Remember, just because your pet may not get salmonella, doesn’t mean you can’t!  Wash hands and utensils after every use!  You can contract salmonella from handling contaminated raw meats or consuming contaminated unwashed vegetables.  Salmonella is shed in their feces.  If a pet has eaten something that was contaminated with salmonella and it has passed through the pet, the feces will be contaminated.

Salmonella is a bacteria that is harmful to humans.  Take proper precautions in the kitchen just like you do when you handle your own raw meats before cooking for the dinner table. Use good hygiene practices, wash your hands, keep surfaces clean, and wash all food preparing tools.  Please note, you can also contract salmonella even if a food is NOT raw.

For more information about salmonella, check out the USDA website:

Can I get salmonella even if my food is not raw?

Yes.  There has been more dry pet food salmonella outbreaks than with raw pet food.  Ready to eat foods such as, salads, fruits, veggies, can harbor salmonella.  It’s important to wash all ready to eat foods, especially from other countries when human/pet waste run-off may be not be regulated, thus contaminating crops, as it is in the US.  

Can my pet get salmonella?

Yes.  But it’s unlikely.  Pets that have a highly compromised immune system that do not have the natural self defense to guard against it can get salmonella.  Consult with your vet if your pet currently has cancer, or if your pet recently had cancer.  Since their immune system has been compromised by disease and their immune system has been stripped of healthy disease fighting antigens from the cancer treatment and chemicals, feeding raw and risking salmonella is not a good idea to feed an immuno-compromised pet.

Does freezing kill salmonella?

No, freezing does not kill salmonella.  Heat/cooking to a minimal internal temperature of 145 degrees kills salmonella.

Should I be concerned about e-coli (a bacteria)?

Yes.  E-coli is a bacteria commonly found in the lower intestines, or gut flora, and can actually benefit the host of warm blooded organisms, and can actually survive outside of the gut.  Some strains of e-coli are harmless.  Some strains are harmful to humans such as the O157:H7 strain and can cause severe food poisoning and is very dangerous, and can even cause death.  

Does freezing kill e-coli?

No, freezing does not kill e-coli.  Heat/cooking to a minimal internal temperature of 145 degrees kills e-coli.

How long do you have to freeze before it kills most harmful parasites/pathogens?

 The FDA states:

• Freeze and store at -4°F (-20°C) or below for 7 days (total time); or 

• Freeze at -31°F (-35°C) or below until solid and store at -31°F (-35°C) or below for 15 hours; or 

• Freeze at -31°F (-35°C) or below until solid and store at -4°F (-20°C) or below for 24 hours.

During the 2008 salmonella outbreak where an estimated 60-80 people contracted salmonella, how many pets were infected?

Zero.  Zero pets were affected.  People were contaminated through DRY dog food.   Salmonella is zoonotic, which means it can be passed from pet to human.  A dog can consume salmonella and then the salmonella is shed in its stool.  If a person (baby/child) is playing on the ground for example where an animal has defecated, that person can get salmonella if the hands are brought to the humans mouth.  If a person steps on animal stool that has salmonella contamination, that can be brought inside the house from the shoes, also risking salmonella.  It’s important to note, the CDC Center for Disease Control tracks disease and outbreaks in the human world.  There is no CDC in the animal world.  It’s not required to report salmonella outbreaks in pets.

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