Salmonella Now in Pet Food, Recall Issued

In the midst of a rash of nationwide Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria outbreaks in human foods, <"">Salmonella has now turned up in pet food.  Mars Petcare US has recalled 100 of its 20-pound bags of PEDIGREE Complete Nutrition Small Crunchy Bites sold at some Albertsons in Southern California and Las Vegas, Nevada.  Although Mars also makes Nutro pet food—which consumers nationwide are blaming for a recent rash of illnesses, and some deaths, in dogs and cats—Nutro products are not included in the Mars recall.

Mars said a “component” that tested positive for Salmonella was inadvertently shipped to its Tracy, California, plant and used in the production of 100 bags of PEDIGREE pet food.  The affected bags indicate “best by” dates of July 7, 2009.  “Our primary concern is the safety and welfare of our pet owners and heir pets,” the company said in a statement.  “Although the finished product tested negative and we have received no reports of illness of pets or their owners, out of an abundance of caution we are issuing a voluntary recall of the limited number of bags of Pedigree Complete Nutrition Small Crunchy Bites containing the component in question.”  Consumers who bought the food should return it to Albertsons for a full refund.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that Salmonella can cause infections in dogs and cats and can also be transferred from pets to people who ingest or handle contaminated products.  Children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems are most at risk.

The FDA offers some suggestions on how to safely handle pet food:

  • Only purchase products in good condition, without signs of damage to the packaging such as dents or tears.
  • Before and after handling pet foods and treats, wash hands for 20 seconds with hot water and soap.
  • Wash pet food bowls, dishes, and scooping utensils with soap and hot water after every use.
  • Never use the pet’s feeding bowl as a scooping utensil; always use a clean, dedicated scoop or spoon.
  • Dispose of old or spoiled pet food products in a safe manner, such as in a securely tied plastic bag within a covered trash receptacle.
  • Refrigerate the food promptly or discard any unused, leftover wet pet food.  Refrigerators should be set at 40º F.
  • Dry products should be stored in a cool, dry place in temperatures under 80º F.
  • If possible, store dry pet food in its original bag inside a clean, dedicated plastic container with a lid, keeping the top of the bag folded closed.
  • Keep pets away from food storage and preparation areas.
  • Keep pets away from garbage and household trash.

The FDA does not advocate a raw meat, poultry, or seafood diet for pets; however, because the FDA understands that a growing number of people prefer to raw food diets to their pets, it is increasing its efforts to minimize the risk such foods pose to animal and human health.

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