The Real Truth about Raw Pet Food – Truth about Pet Food

Does raw pet food scare you? After you learn the facts, you might not be as worried.

Everywhere pet owners turn, someone is warning against giving your pet a raw pet food diet.

The FDA warns pet owners raw pet food is “Dangerous“:

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warns raw pet food can make you or your pet sick:

And some veterinarians speak out stating pet owners should be warned about the “infectious potential” and “public health risk” of raw pet food:


How can raw pet food be considered “dangerous” and a “public health risk” when raw chicken (sold in your grocery) poses a significantly higher risk?

The USDA – the governing federal agency over raw meat in the US allows a certain percentage of meat products to be contaminated with Salmonella. For slaughter facilities, per USDA regulation – “FRN Docket No. FSIS 2014-0023” (and see chart page 10 Here), the following “Salmonella Performance Standards” are allowed for human food:

And with ground chicken, the USDA Salmonella Performance Standard:

But what about the poop?

Another argument against raw pet food, pet owners are told dangerous bacteria could be shed in your pet’s poop – causing human illness. Well…

Dog and cat poop does have the potential to contain pathogenic bacteria, but it is not nearly the risk some pose it to be. Quoting the study FDA uses to warn pet owners against raw pet food: “Fecal samples (2,965) solicited from 11 geographically dispersed veterinary testing laboratories were collected in 36 states between January 2012 and April 2014. The overall study prevalence of Salmonella in cats (3 of 542) was <1%. The prevalence in dogs (60 of 2,422) was 2.5%.”

Comparing the Salmonella risk allowed in whole chicken sold in your grocery to the Salmonella risk of picking up after your dog:

But what about that FDA pet food study?

In a two-year study spanning from October 2010 through July 2012, the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) screened over 1,000 samples of pet food for bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses.” The FDA results of their study found:

Significant to note: over this two year FDA study, the agency found only 1 Salmonella positive product from testing 240 different dry cat and dog foods. These are very surprising results as during this same time frame, the largest Salmonella pet food recall in history took place. Millions of pounds of pet foods were recalled during early 2012 manufactured by Diamond Pet Food, yet FDA testing seemed to miss all those products.

That aside, the FDA states their study found 15 Salmonella positive samples of 196 raw pet foods tested. That’s 8% of raw pet food samples positive for Salmonella.

Going back to what the USDA allows into human food ground chicken products (raw pet food is ground – direct comparison):

What FDA testing found in raw pet food is significantly less than what is legally allowed by the USDA in ground raw chicken sold in groceries across the US.

The question has to be asked…

Why do (some) veterinarians, the FDA, and the CDC continue to warn pet owners that raw pet food is “dangerous” and a “public health risk” when in no uncertain terms, raw meat in your grocery poses a significantly higher risk?

The facts are: any raw meat has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. The same risk applies to lettuce, flour, melons, peanuts…and cat and dog poop.

Common sense – wash your hands, surfaces and kitchen tools after handling/preparing ANY raw food and picking up after your pet.

If you want to provide your pet with a raw pet food, don’t let the fear tactics of some stop you. Human grade ingredient raw pet food is no more of a risk to bring into your home than chicken, lettuce and/or melons purchased from your grocery. (The same cannot be said of feed grade ingredient raw pet food or any style of feed grade ingredient pet food.)

Human grade raw pet food means that all ingredients (including supplements) are human edible and the pet food is manufactured under USDA inspection. The pet food manufacturer is not allowed to disclose this information on the label, pet owners will need to call or email their manufacturer to ask.

What’s actually “dangerous” is an unfounded bias against one style of pet food by so many of authority. What’s certainly dangerous is any feed grade ingredient pet food that is openly allowed by all regulatory authorities to violate federal food safety laws. Pet feeds that are allowed – with no warning or disclosure to the pet owner – to contain diseased animal material and meat ingredients sourced from non-slaughtered animals…that’s what is dangerous and a public health risk.

Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
Association for Truth in Pet Food

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