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Dry Dog Food Blamed for 70 Cases of Salmonella

May 16, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

Salmonella poisoning in 70 people around the country has been linked to dry dog food.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it is the first time a Salmonella outbreak has been linked to dry dog food.

Last August, Mars Petcare US, Inc. recalled its Red Flannel Large Breed Adult Formula and  Krasdale Gravy Dry Dog Food because of  Salmonella contamination.  The Salmonella was traced back to the company's Pennsylvania factory.  

Now the CDC is blaming the dry dog food for 70 cases of Salmonella, most of which occurred in Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio.  There were also reported cases in Alabama, California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Carolina and Virginia.   About 40 percent of those infections involved infants, according to a report published in the May 16 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Of the 38 people for whom clinical information was available, 15 (39 percent) had bloody diarrhea. For the 45 persons whose hospitalization status was known, 11 (24 percent) had to be hospitalized. No deaths were reported, according to the report.

The CDC said that although no pets became ill, Salmonella was identified in feces samples from dogs that ate the dry food. In addition, Salmonella was found in open bags of the pet food fed to the dogs and in unopened bags of dog food made in the Pennsylvania plant.  

While this is the first Salmonella outbreak ever associated with dry dog food, some experts believe that food born illnesses from pet foods are more common, but are under-reported.  To avoid contracting food poisoning from pet food, it is important to avoid cross-contamination, anyone handling pet food should wash their hands with hot, soapy water when they are done. Likewise, pet food bowls, dishes and scooping utensils should also be washed after use. Dry food should be stored in a cool (under 80-degrees) dry place in its original bag or a container with a lid. Unused wet food should be refrigerated, and the thermostat should be no higher than 40-degrees. Any stale or spoiled food should be thrown away. Pet food also should not be stored or handled anywhere human food is stored or prepared.  Pet food should also be kept away from young children, who might be tempted to give it a taste.

Salmonella is a potentially deadly type of food poisoning, symptoms of which include fever, abdominal pain, nausea, gas and bloody diarrhea. Symptoms appear within 36 hours of exposure, and usually last four to seven days. In very severe cases, Salmonella can lead to kidney failure and other complications. Salmonella can be particularly dangerous for children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. Some victims of Salmonella will develop a disease called Reiter’s Syndrome, a difficult- to- treat condition that causes severe joint pain, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination. Reiter’s Syndrome can plague its victims for months or years, and can lead to chronic arthritis.


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