Effect Measure

Human Salmonella from pet food

So we have more Salmonella contamination out and about. This one is in dry pet food. But it wasn’t the pets that were getting the Salmonella:

Salmonella-contaminated dry pet food sickened at least 79 people, including many young children, and could still be dangerous, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Thursday.

Even though the affected brands have been recalled and the factory in Pennsylvania closed, pet owners could still have the cat and dog kibble in their homes, the CDC said.


“Dry pet food has a 1-year shelf life. Contaminated products identified in recalls might still be in the homes of purchasers and could cause illness. Persons who have these products should not use them to feed their pets but should discard them or return them to the store,” the CDC said in its weekly report on death and disease.


“Consumers and health departments should be aware that all dry pet food, pet treats, and pet supplements might be contaminated with pathogens such as Salmonella, and consumers should use precautions with all brands of dry pet food, treats, and supplements,” the CDC report reads. (Maggie Fox, Reuters)

The pet foods are made by Mars Petcare. The company’s website, www.petcare.mars.com, has the full list, which include (among others), Special Kitty, Pedigree and Member’s Mark. Only dry foods are affected. CDC says that canned dog and cat food is unlikely to have bacterial pathogens because of the way they are manufactured.

While the pet food was recalled last year, new cases are continuing to appear. So far no deaths from this bug, Salmonella enterica serotype Schwarzengrund. Most of the cases are young children. The pets themselves seem unaffected. CDC believes that the children may be putting the foodin their mouths or have become exposed while handling it. The idea that the pets were health carriers apparently was considered. Stool samples from 7 dogs were tested and no Salmonella found. Still, while in this case this does not seem to be the route of exposure, pet feces are always a potential route.

So pet food contamination doesn’t just endanger pets. It’s a public health problem, not just a veterinary one. And it’s a pretty pervasive one:

Since 2006, at least 13 recall announcements involving 135 pet products (e.g., dry dog food and cat food, pet treats, raw diets, and pet supplements) have been issued because of Salmonella contamination. These recalls have resulted from contamination with multiple serotypes of Salmonella and have been associated with multiple pet food manufacturing plants in the United States. Pet products typically are recalled after product testing indicates contamination with Salmonella. To date, no human illness has been associated with these other pet food recalls. (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports, CDC)

Another reminder of the complicated chain of food production that binds us all together. Not just humans but the animals who live with us.


  1. #1 anon
    November 8, 2008

    I’m surprised no one unearthed the fact that most cats, dogs, and other carnivores are not nearly as subsceptible to salmonella as we are. That’s all. Check with any vet.