FDA is Testing Raw Pet Food (and only raw pet food)

FDA just announced an ‘assignment to collect official samples of raw foods for dogs or cats”, testing raw pet food products for Salmonella, Listeria, and E coli. The FDA is ONLY testing raw pet food. So wrong in so many ways.

The FDA made if official today – they are on a Salmonella, Listeria, and E coli hunt. Trouble is, their ONLY hunting ground for this bacteria is raw pet food. The press release from FDA did not mention kibble pet food or canned pet food – these products will not be tested. Only raw pet food will be tested for this bacteria.

While FDA’s dislike of any pet food other than kibble or can is no surprise, a statement within their press release is a surprising admission. “In recent years, an increasing number of dog and cat owners have begun feeding their pets various foods that are labeled or advertised as raw with/without minimal processing. The FDA has not yet defined raw or minimally processed foods for dogs or cats.”

Raw and minimally processed pet food have been the fastest growing segment of commercial pet food for at least ten straight years. Now why hasn’t FDA “defined raw or minimally processed food for dogs or cats”? Especially considering the popularity of these products. Why has FDA never bothered – in this ten year time frame – to define this style of pet food? A theory: could it be that FDA has refused to ‘define’ raw or minimally processed pet foods because just maybe they might learn that less processing is healthier for our pets (just as minimally processed foods are healthier for humans).

I support FDA testing for dangerous bacteria in pet food. I do not support FDA only testing one style of pet food. Testing only one style of pet food is clear bias.

A true unbiased bacteria testing of pet food would include all styles of commercial pet food.

A true unbiased testing of raw pet food would include testing an equal number of raw human grade meats purchased directly from grocery stores.

Do you know what FDA would find if they did a side by side comparison of bacteria found in raw meat for human consumption and raw meat pet foods? We already know. Human grade meat purchased in grocery stores tested significantly higher for bacteria contamination than raw meat pet food – both testing performed by FDA. From CNN regarding FDA testing of raw meat for human consumption. “A recently released report from Food and Drug Administration found that of all the raw ground turkey tested, 81% was contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Also, according to the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System, or NARMS, Retail Meat Annual Report, ground turkey wasn’t the only problem. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria were found in some 69% of pork chops, 55% of ground beef and 39% of chicken.”

As comparison, the FDA performed ‘surveillance’ testing of raw pet food in 2012. The agency found only 7% of raw pet foods (15 of 196 pet foods) tested positive for Salmonella;  16% (32 of 196 pet foods) tested positive for Listeria.

Pet food 7%, 16% positive – human food 81%, 69%, 55% and 39% positive.

Now here is another kick to the gut to raw pet food consumers. The FDA press release about testing of raw pet food states: “Positive findings of Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, E. coli O157:H7 in a sample of raw foods for dogs or cats product collected from a retail store may result in a Class I recall, press release, and Reportable Food Registry (RFR) submission.”

Strange thing, the 2013 FDA testing of retail human grade meat finding 81%, 69%, 55% and 39% containing antibiotic resistant bacteria…did not result in one single recall. Not one brand name of meat testing positive for antibiotic resistant bacteria was made public by FDA, not one Class I recall occurred.

No pet food or human food should be contaminated with Salmonella, Listeria, and E coli. But for FDA to hold raw pet food to a zero tolerance with threat of Class I recall when the agency did NOT hold human food to the very same standard is absurd. It is as well absurd for FDA to only search for this bacteria in raw pet food (and not all other styles of pet food).

One more quote. The FDA press release states: “FDA does not believe raw meat foods for animals are consistent with the goal of protecting the public from significant health risks, particularly when such products are brought into the home…” Isn’t human grade raw meat purchased in grocery stores (such as that ground turkey – 81% of which tested positive for bacteria) brought into the same homes as raw meat pet food? Does FDA believe pet food consumers are just not smart enough to know that all raw meat – pet food or human food – should be handled safely?

C’mon FDA, really? Why can’t you regulate ‘food’ fairly and consistently? You allow any pet food to violate federal food safety laws, you allow any pet food to be made from putrid meat sourced from diseased animals with no disclosure to the consumer. You hold raw pet food to a recall threat when the same raw meat for humans is not held to the same standard. There are just too many inconsistencies. This smells.


Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
Association for Truth in Pet Food

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