In the new analysis of 35 commercial raw dog and cat foods, researchers found that 86% of products contained potentially dangerous bacteria.
“We see that more and more people are feeding (cats and dogs) this kind of product and we know that meat is infected with bacteria and parasites,” co-author of the new research, Paul Overgaauw.
Feeding pets raw meat, bones and organs in diets is a new growing trend. This diet is considered more “natural” by some owners. Although, scientists are saying that claims made in favor of this kind of diet are unfounded and can instead lead to dental and gut injuries, growth problems and malnutrition.
The risks don’t just apply to the pets, humans can get sick from bacteria and parasites lurking in raw-meat products. In fact, humans may face higher risks than their pets, who can be carriers and shedders of these pathogens even when they don’t become sick themselves.
The Netherlands-based study analyzed 35 frozen, raw meat pet foods, looking for evidence of contaminants like salmonella, listeria and E coli. They found that 23% of the products contained a specific type of E coli that can cause renal failure in humans and 80% had antibiotic-resistant E coli. More than half of the food had listeria species present, 20% contained salmonella and 23% had sarcocystis — a parasite that causes anorexia, nausea and abdominal pain.
Both E.coli and Salmonella infections in humans have been linked with serious illnesses.
Two potentially harmful parasites—Sarcocystis cruzi and Toxoplasma gondii—were also detected in 11% and 6% of the products.
“As an evidence-based working veterinarian, I don’t support these products,”says Overgaauw—not only because of the risk of infection, but because not all of them offer complete and balanced nutrients that dogs and cats need to grow and stay healthy.
The team concluded that warnings and handling instructions should be included on product labels and/or packages.