Thursday, January 22, 2009

Nationwide Peanut Butter Recall trickles down into the Pet Food Business

I guess it was just a question of time to see this coming: The currently ongoing pretty substantial recall involving peanut butter products finally affects pet products as well. The market segment mostly concerned and possibly containing the recalled product is the treat sector. Today PetSmart became the front runner, voluntarily recalling its Grreat Choice Dog Biscuits since they apparently contain peanut paste made by PCA (Peanut Butter Corporation of America), the main company involved with the recall. I am sure there will be more to follow. Earlier today I sent out e-mails inquiring with our manufacturers of peanut butter treats about their status and involvement. What sort of upsets me is that it is going to take quite a while to get answers. These days everybody is horrified and scared of legal consequences by saying just one wrong word, so everything going out to the public and concerned consumers and pet owners will have to be blessed by legal advisors. Though I have to say I already did receive one reply, Sojos officially states that its peanut butter products are not involved and safe. I hope all my other manufacturers will follow with the same answer. PetSmart in its official press release stated that as of time and date of its press release they were not aware of any reported cases of illness related to the recalled product. However, as a precautionary measure all product was removed off the shelves and their website.
Let’s talk a little salmonella here: Usually when we talk or hear about salmonella infections it involves meats and raw foods. As a matter of fact, salmonella infection is one of the first arguments which is usually brought up against raw food by those who believe (contrary to facts and truth) there are better feeding solutions. According to the CDC (Department of Health & Human Services Center for Disease Control & Prevention) signs of a salmonella infection are as follows: “Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12–72 hours after infection. Infection is usually diagnosed by culture of a stool sample. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Although most people recover without treatment, severe infections may occur. Infants, elderly persons, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness. When severe infection occurs, Salmonella may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.” The FDA says on its website: “In an effort to prevent the transmission of Salmonella from pets to family members and care givers, the FDA recommends that everyone follow appropriate pet food handling guidelines when feeding their pets. People may risk Salmonella infection not only by handling these pet foods, but also by contact with pets or other surfaces exposed to these foods, so it is important that they thoroughly wash their hands with hot water and soap. Anyone who is experiencing the symptoms of Salmonella or Listeria infection after having handled the recalled product should seek medical attention. … Healthy cats and dogs rarely become sick from Salmonella. Animals ill with Salmonella will display symptoms similar to the ones listed above for humans. People who have concerns about whether their pet has Salmonella or not should contact their veterinarian.”
The FDA also publishes “FDA Tips for Preventing Food borne Illness Associated with Pet Food and Pet Treats: FDA is informing consumers of steps they can take to help prevent food borne illness, including Salmonella-related illness, when handling pet foods and treats. Pet food and treats, like many other types of foods, can be susceptible to harmful bacterial contamination. During calendar year 2007, 15 pet products have been recalled due to Salmonella contamination; however, to date none of these products have been directly linked to human illness. Salmonella in pet foods and treats can cause serious infections in dogs and cats, and, if there is cross contamination, in people too, especially children, the aged, and people with compromised immune systems. Salmonella in pet food and treats can potentially be transferred to people ingesting or handling contaminated pet food and treats. While the FDA has stepped up its efforts to minimize the incidence of food borne illness associated with pet foods and treats, it’s important that consumers be mindful of the potential risks. Pet owners and consumers can reduce the likelihood of infection from contaminated pet foods and treats by following some simple, safe handling instructions. Click here for more details such as buying, preparation and storage tips and raw food diets in general.
Altogether it sounds to me as if we got a relatively new situation on hand here since all information I have found so far deal with salmonella related to raw food and meat only. I will keep searching for more and try to keep everybody updated on the current recall. To me the most important thing about preventing salmonella when dealing with raw food is cleanliness. And it appears to me as if this simple piece of advice was not adhered to somewhere along the production of any of these recalled peanut butter products.

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