FDA Targets Salmonella from Tainted Pet Food

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has begun testing pet food for <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/food_poisoning">Salmonella in an effort to protect human health. In a memorandum released this week, the FDA said it began the year-long testing program because it is “particularly concerned about Salmonella being transmitted to humans through pet foods, pet treats, and supplements for pets that are intended to be fed to animals in homes, where they are likely to be directly handled or ingested by humans.”

According to a report from Dow Jones News Wires, the FDA is testing dog and cat foods, as well as products for rabbits, reptiles, birds, aquarium fish and rodents such as hamsters, mice and guinea pigs. This month, it began testing samples of pet food from distributors, wholesalers and retailers such as PetSmart, PetCo, Walmart, Costco, Sam’s Club and Target.

Salmonella tainted pet food can sicken humans who come in contact with it. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 70 people became ill from January 2006 through December 2007 from Salmonella-tainted dry dog food produced in Pennsylvania. Illness can develop as a result of ingesting contaminated feed or putting objects or fingers contaminated with these germs into the mouth.

The CDC advises that consumers take the following precautions to avoid contracting Salmonella from tainted pet food or sick pets:

• After contact with animals, their food, or their environments, wash your hands well with soap and running water.

• Clean up after your pet. If you have a cat, scoop the litter box daily and dispose of the stool in a tightly sealed plastic bag. If you have a dog, clean up the stool while on walks or from the yard daily and dispose of the stool in a tightly sealed plastic bag.

• Children younger than 5 years of age should not be allowed to touch or eat pet food, treats, or supplements and should be kept away from pet feeding areas. Young children are especially at risk for illness because their immune systems are still developing and because they are more likely than others to put their fingers or other items into their mouths.

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