Have all the FDA raw pet food recalls got you a little scared? Well, something the FDA isn’t telling consumers might scare you even more (sorry).
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that each year 1.2 million human Salmonella illnesses are acquired in the United States. CDC estimates that food is the source for about 1 million illnesses, 19,000 hospitalizations, and 380 deaths.
Just for the month of March 2018 (through 3/27/18) there have been six raw pet food recalls, and fourteen human food (everything from mini-eclairs to coconut flour) or supplement recalls for Salmonella.
In other words…Salmonella is prevalent in all types of food, not just raw pet food.
The FDA considers a pet food to be “adulterated” if it contains live Salmonella bacteria: “FDA considers a pet food to be adulterated under section 402(a)(1) of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 342(a)(1)) when it is contaminated with Salmonella and will not subsequently undergo a commercial heat step or other commercial process that will kill the Salmonella.”
Notice the FDA states the pet food product is ONLY considered adulterated if the product does not go through a process that will kill the Salmonella. Salmonella itself is acceptable to the FDA, if the Salmonella bacteria is dead. But…the dead Salmonella poses another problem in pet food – a problem the FDA is ignoring.
Live Salmonella bacteria poses a significant risk to young or old pets and immune compromised pets.
Dead Salmonella bacteria poses a significant risk to all pets – young, old, sick, and healthy.
Salmonella is a gram-negative bacteria (E.coli is also gram-negative, Listeria is gram-positive). When gram-negative bacteria are killed – through FDA’s suggested “commercial heat step or other commercial process” – the dead bacteria produce a toxin known as endotoxins. And endotoxins can cause deadly results for pets that consume them.
A 2008 study published in Critical Care Medicine looked at the effects of endotoxins in dogs. They found (bold added): “There was positive correlation (r = .844; p < .001) between plasma leptin and ghrelin levels in endotoxin-treated dogs. Endotoxemia was associated with several-fold elevations in circulating levels of stress hormones, proinflammatory mediators, and hepatorenal (kidney) injury markers.“
In other words – endotoxins cause inflammation; inflammation is the foundation of disease. Science has linked endotoxins to obesity, diabetes.
“Endotoxin entering the body is carried to the liver where it is inactivated. Increased endotoxin levels can damage the liver. Moreover, when the amount of endotoxin reaching the liver is normal, the presence of another potential toxin can interact with endotoxin to damage the liver. The other substances are not necessarily toxins. They include vitamin A, copper and iron, and many drugs. Thus, any level of endotoxin can damage the liver. Exposure to endotoxin should be minimized as much as possible.”
Mycotoxins are stated to “aggravate exposure to endotoxins”. In a pet food industry/animal feed industry publication, regarding poultry and endotoxin exposure risk, it states that mycotoxins “increase intestinal permeability” to absorb endotoxins. Recent science (2014) found that propylene glycol – commonly used in pet foods – “increased the mortality rate in sepsis induced by the bacterial endotoxin lipopolysaccharide in mice.”
So…pet food consumers have a problem. Either way – live Salmonella or dead Salmonella – the bacteria causes health problems. Live Salmonella bacteria in a pet food is a problem, a serious problem that could turn deadly for some people and some pets. Dead Salmonella bacteria in a pet food is no problem for the human handling the food, but it is a problem for the pets consuming the food. Depending on the level of endotoxins, synergy with other substances in the pet food – it could also turn deadly (sepsis).
The FDA’s firm stance that ONLY live Salmonella is a risk, their lack of acknowledgement to the dangers of endotoxins in pet food – is a concern. In March of 2016, we had a meeting with FDA specifically addressing the risk of endotoxins in pet food. The agency was provided with a slew of scientific data but they refused to even begin a monitoring/testing program for endotoxin levels in pet food. I recorded that meeting…below is a short excerpt of what the FDA told us.
What can consumers do?
Send FDA and your State Department of Agriculture an email asking them to promptly establish a ‘No Significant Risk’ level for endotoxins in pet food. Endotoxins are a certain risk to pets, ignoring the problem is not of benefit to pets or consumers. You can email FDA at this address: AskCVM@fda.hhs.gov. Consumers can find their State Department of Agriculture representatives here: https://www.aafco.org/Regulatory
Consumers can also ask FDA to provide all pet food manufacturers with advice on how to prevent bacterial contamination. Currently the agency is doing little more than putting a band-aid on a large wound (with recalls). Preventing bacterial growth is the ONLY way to minimize the risk of Salmonella and endotoxins. FDA needs to become the proactive agency manufacturers turn to for advice on prevention, not the agency that ONLY contacts them to recall a product.
Ask your pet food manufacturer about preventative controls. Based on manufacturing requirements for human grade and feed grade pet food, human grade pet foods (using 100% human edible ingredients and manufactured per human food requirements) would be of lesser risk to endotoxin contamination. Human food ingredients and the manufacturing process are required to abide by preventative controls established to prevent the growth of bacteria.
On the other hand, feed grade pet food’s ingredient and manufacturing requirements are focused more on killing live bacteria – not so much prevention. But…this is not to say that some feed grade pet foods go above and beyond sourcing clean as possible ingredients and enlisting their own non-required preventative controls. Consumers can ask their pet food manufacturer what preventative controls they have in place to source bacteria free ingredients and methods established to prevent contamination before, during and after production of the pet food.
To learn more about endotoxins and how to prevent the damages of endotoxins, Click Here.
One more thing…
Opinion. It is my opinion that we are seeing so many raw pet food recalls of late because that is the ONLY style of pet food that is being tested. I believe if kibble pet foods were tested, we would not only find live Salmonella bacteria – I believe we would also find dramatic varying levels of endotoxins.
My personal opinion is that regulatory authorities believe they have the best interest of pet food consumers at heart – they honestly believe that consumers are at risk from live Salmonella bacteria and I believe THEY believe raw pet food is most likely to be contaminated.
But…my opinion is also that regulatory authorities are intentionally ignoring the significant risk of endotoxins. I personally believe that endotoxins kill far more pets each year than live Salmonella bacteria. I hope that thousands of consumers send their regulatory authorities an email asking for the risk of endotoxins in pet food to be acknowledged and a ‘No Significant Risk’ level be established.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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