Salmonella in Pet Food: Why All the Recalls?


It seems like there’s a pet food recall related to Salmonella several times a week lately. What’s causing all these recalls, and why is Salmonella apparently so rampant in pet food?

What Is Salmonella?

Salmonella is a bacteria that can affect food sources that end up in both human and pet foods. According to the CDC, “Most people infected with Salmonella develop fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps 12–72 hours after exposure. Illness usually lasts 4–7 days, and most people recover without treatment.” However, in some rare cases a person with salmonellosis, or the condition that results from ingesting Salmonella, may need to be hospitalized.

Salmonella results in similar digestive distress in pets.

Salmonella is most commonly found in raw or undercooked meats and unpasteurized dairy products. It can also be present in foods that have come into contact with infected substances. That means that if a facility does not properly clean or separate raw from cooked ingredients, contamination can occur.

Why Would a Pet Food Be Recalled?

If a pet food manufacturer has realized that conditions weren’t clean enough over a certain period of time, they’ll issue a “voluntary recall” of the affected products, specifying which lots are affected. The exact same brand and flavor of food could be totally fine as long as your package isn’t listed as one of the affected lots.

Sometimes, recalls are enacted before any pets experience illness, simply because there’s a chance of Salmonella.

Alternatively, the FDA can require a manufacturer to recall products, if an issue is discovered.

What Can I Do?

Subscribe to recall alerts (like ours, right here!) and check for any brands or lot codes you’ve bought. Stop feeding the food to your pet and dispose of it. Contact your vet if your pet gets sick, and contact the manufacturer and/or retailer for a refund or other information.

In addition, it’s always a good idea to practice good hygiene in your home, to reduce the spread of any bacteria:

  • Buy pet foods in good condition and use them before the expiration date
  • Wash hands after handling pet food and treats
  • Refrigerate all leftover wet pet food at 40º F
  • Store dry products in a cool, dry place at under 80º F
  • Wash hands after petting or touching your pet
  • Wash hands after cleaning pet waste
  • Wash hands before cooking or eating

Why All the Recalls Lately?

In the fall of 2011, the FDA conducted a year-long assessment of pet foods to look for Salmonella. In the wake of that assessment, it’s likely that both the FDA and food manufacturers are paying more attention to Salmonella risks and being proactive about recalling possibly contaminated products.

So it’s not necessarily that pet foods are more often contaminated than before, just that manufacturers aren’t letting any possibilities of a Salmonella issue go unannounced. Overall, that’s better for us and our pets.

If your PetCareRx purchase has been recalled, please call our pet specialists at 1-800-844-1427, and they will answer your questions and help you find an alternate product for your pet.

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