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FDA Starts Testing Pet Food for Salmonella

From the Chicago Tribune

The Food and Drug Administration has begun a year-long nationwide effort to test pet food for salmonella contamination, but the key concern is not the health of dogs and cats -- it's of their owners.

FDA investigators began in October taking samples of dry pet food, pet treats and diet supplements from distributors, wholesalers and retailers like PetSmart, PetCo, WalMart, Costco, Sam's Club and Target.

People turning to dog food for nourishment is "an urban legend," said Duane Ekedahl, president of the Pet Food Institute, but the FDA said in a memorandum released this week that it is "particularly concerned about salmonella being transmitted to humans through pet foods, pet treats and supplements for pets that are intended to be fed to animals in homes, where they are likely to be directly handled or ingested by humans."

Usually people get salmonella poisoning by eating contaminated food, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but it's also possible to get sick just "by putting objects or fingers contaminated with these germs into the mouth."

So wash your hands after feeding your pets and keep infants away from the dog's dish, the CDC warned.

And there is plenty of evidence to back up concern over human infection, the FDA said. The agency pointed to CDC data that show 70 people got sick from January 2006 through December 2007 in connection with salmonella-tainted dry dog food produced in Pennsylvania.

The 2006-2007 dog food outbreak featured a salmonella Schwarzengrund, according to the CDC, a bacteria known to be resistant to some antibiotics.

Antibiotic-resistant forms of salmonella have become a serious health problem because they cannot be treated with some common antibiotics.

Antibiotic resistance, according to the CDC, "can increase the risk of hospitalization or possible treatment failure in infected individuals."


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