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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Comments 101

  1. B Dawson says:

    How is it that our tax dollars get wasted on this biased, bought-by-the-highest-bidder enforcement? If it can’t be stopped by media smear tactics, use “backdoor legislation” to get the product off the shelf. Make it so hard and/or expensive for a company that they give up in frustration or the product becomes so expensive no one can afford it. You know what’s coming next, insurance companies will not offer coverage to companies producing raw food because of liability.

    I think I’m just gonna start my own country – Greece should be up for auction anytime now. Citizenship will only be open to those who can pass a test proving they have commonsense.

    • Kathryn says:

      let me know – I have my passport in hand!

    • V.J. Sudol says:

      This article is based on a false premise. The FDA didn’t ONLY test raw pet foods, as anyone who checked out the results can see. http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/ResourcesforYou/AnimalHealthLiteracy/ucm373757.htm

      They tested 1,000 samples, including food in these categories:
      Raw pet food
      Dry exotic pet food
      Jerky-type treats
      Semi-moist dog food
      Semi-moist cat food
      Dry dog food
      Dry cat food

      • Aneisha says:

        Also the reason why food meant for human consumption isn’t targeted for testing is because the assumption is the raw meat will be cooked. I think all areas deserve to be properly looked into to get a fair objective understanding so that we can make informed decisions as pet parents. Further down the comments there are lots of opinions and not always respectfully expressed, some of which are factual and some of which are not. For example vets are not nutritional experts and do receive training from brands. I wouldn’t completely dismiss the training as the likes of Mars (owners of Royal canin/James well beloved) have pioneered a lot of the science for pet nutrition. I personally wouldn’t support them as I don’t believe their interests are objective and I prefer small businesses. And there is plenty of profits to be made from having a Raw food business, (I know as I’ve worked for a number of pet food brands) so I would argue that’s not the reason why larger businesses haven’t yet moved into Raw – I stress yet as I believe they will if the popularity increases just as Burns switched to grain free after long saying they didn’t agree with it and that they would never do it. Food isn’t the sole driver of a long life and every cat and dog is different – I met the lady who had the oldest cat in the U.K. that died at 30 (google her she was covered in the news quite a bit) and she fed what most (myself included) would consider a terrible food. Genes are strong influencers. I hope the popularity of Raw food encourages more research on pet nutrition as a whole.

        FYI I recently launched my own natural pet food brand. I don’t sell nor feed raw simply because I haven’t found any scientific evidence nor consensus amongst pet nutritionists to support it over conventional foods. I’m excited for more studies to improve our understanding of pet nutrition as a whole as I come across daily inaccuracies being presented as facts to unknowing pet parents that always want the best for their pet.

  2. Allison says:

    I was at a veterinary pet food conference and they were trying to convince us how bad raw food is for our pets (go figure as it was sponsored by Royal Canin). I had already been feeding my dogs raw for a few years at this point so I was holding back my opinions the entire time. At the end the speaker asked if anyone had any questions. I asked him ‘if raw food is so bad for our pets why were there more recalls of dry/kibble based pet foods last year than of raw based pet foods?’ His reply was ‘no pet food is safe’. I wish I had a tape recorder!

    • Louise says:

      That is probably exactly what they are trying to do with the testing of raw food, trying to get some recalls happening so that it looks worse in the recall department than kibble.

  3. Jeanette Owen says:

    Well said B Dawson!

  4. Mona says:

    Raw foods are nutritionally imbalanced. They also pose risks for intestinal and esophageal perforations, obstructions, broken teeth, etc.

    Raw foods pose risks for humans due to bacteria which are vectors of disease.

    There is no vendetta or secret agenda against raw pet food companies; raw foods have been scientifically and medically proven to not be beneficial for pets. If they were, the pet food companies that make “kibble” like you call it, would jump on the bandwagon; think about it. Why don’t they? Because of contamination and liability again, for the surgeries and death that at some point down the line will affect the pets ( if you have been feeding raw for ten years abd your pets are fibe, lucky you).

    Doctors and Veterinarians go to school to learn; this is their area of expertise.

    Pets that eat balanced, processed diets without nutrient excessess or deficiencies easily live 18+ years; that should say somethibg. I myself have had three cats live to be 21 abd the always ate Hill’s

    There is a lot of misinformation on the internet; it is a medium in which anyone and everyone posts appearing to know what they say.

    Educate yourselves so your pets do not have to suffer; your pets deserve it and will appreciate it.

    • Susan Thixton says:

      Mona – I wholehearted disagree with everything you’ve just stated. It’s honestly too long of a list of errors to post.

      • Louise says:

        I also disagree with everything you just said, especially the “science to prove it” part.

      • Joanne says:

        Totally agree with you Susan Thixton…..a very ignorant and ill informed statement. It’s so ridiculous I had to laugh. Someone (Mona) needs to do some major research.

    • Valerie Noyes says:

      Mona, I seriously want to address each and every sentence you wrote, but I am so angry with the nonsense you have spouted I simply cannot do it.

    • Laurie Matson says:

      No Mona, You have it really wrong. YOU need to educate Yourself!!! Quite obviously you do not follow Pet food as closely as you should be. If you did you never would have written the backward Comment you did. sorry, you are in the minority and uneducated about Raw meat, and Pet Food in general.

    • John Sturgess says:

      Mona = Lobbyist for the Pet Food Industry that she proclaims makes safe Kibble. Dr’s and Vets go to school and this is there area of expertise…. WOW ( Shaking my head – I guess Ron White is right , you cant fix S _ _ _ _ D ) Why is the FDA doing this – cause the LOBBYIST for PET FOOD Companies have the money to fight a dirty fight with payola, trips and future employment once you leave the Govt Sector. BIG MONEY PET FOOD , just like Coca Cola is seeing a decline in SUGARY DRINK, Kibble Makers are seeing a decline to al the new fresh raw food companies. Why do you see all these ads on TV for BRAIN FOOD for your pet or Breed specific Diets or no more grains – yet for decades they shoveled this junk with out remorse… You cant start making RAW and say Kibble sucks because your profit margins would shrivel away,,, its all about the Benjamin’s. Follow the money and the lobbyist

    • Andrea says:

      If raw is so ‘dangerous’ to our pets, then why didn’t they go extinct millennia ago? Cats and dogs have been eating raw for thousands of years. Big Pet Food won’t as you say, “jump on the bandwagon.” There’s no money in it for them. Why would they when they can use junk, cheap ingredients like Roundup GMO corn, discarded scraps from slaughterhouses, 4D animals, cancerous tumors, maggots, road kill, euthanized pets, zoo animals, etc. and make more profit? They then turn around and lie to vets and convince them that their product is superior and safer than raw meat. This creates even more profit for Big Pet Food and the vet. More sales for Big Pet Food, and more visits to the vet with sick pets.

    • Andrea says:

      Also, most processed pet food is loaded with carcinogenic ingredients. Cancer rates are up in pets more now, then before pet food was invented. I LOST a cat to cancer a couple years ago at the young age of 14. His type of cancer is commonly linked with the kinds of molds found in the grains used. Most of his life he was on cheap kibble. He was always throwing up. When he was 12, I took him off the cheap crap and put him on high protein, low carb, grain free kibble for 2 years. Energy increased when he was off the cheap junk. As soon as I put him on raw, he blossomed! Eyes cleared up, more energy, etc. (I only had 6 months to enjoy this transformation on raw before I lost him.) The truth is in the pudding! If a pet reaches their 20s on the cheap stuff, then they were just lucky. I would never knowingly risk my pets’ lives over a few bucks…

    • TS says:

      Mona, which BIG PET FOOD company do YOU work for??? If you don’t, maybe you should!
      Every single thing you stated is FALSE. And as for commercial Kibble manufacturers not jumping on the band wagon – there is 1 simple reason – PROFITS. They would need to charge so much per lb for high quality safe raw ingredients – to equal the ill-gained profits they currently enjoy from over processed garbage ingredients – no one would buy their food. Do you really think that Pedigree kibble dog food in 40 + lb bags at LESS THAN FIFTY CENTS a pound is safe OR that it contains high quality ingredients? Think again.

    • Anne says:

      Mona, do you work for Hill’s or Purina? I have educated myself about foods and nutrition. I am a degreed animal scientist with formal training in feeds and feeding animals. Feeding your pets foods that manufacturers have made with diseased, dead, dying, or euthanized animals is not in their best interests. Wise up, Mona. Or as the song says, “I’ve got some oceanfront property in Arizona”.

    • Grateful says:

      You want to know why Big Pet Food don’t make raw diets? Because it’s not as profitable as making kibble and cheap canned food. Raw food is real food, expensive to make. Kibble and cheap canned contains pure junk, very cheap to make, and keeps the pets at the vet too. Your ignorance about what an animal should eat is frightening.

    • Kristi Johnson says:

      I took the same “animal nutrition” course the vet students did back in ag college. It was how to maximize growth for livestock – chickens, sheep, cattle, hogs. You looked at fat, protein, lignin and fiber and basic “vitamins” like ir