CDC: Feeding your pets in the kitchen (and washing their bowls) can lead to salmonellosis

Pet food/feeding just wont go away. Following last week’s frozen pet food linked outbreak, researchers led by CDC have released a report detailing salmonellosis associated with dry pet kibble from 2006-2008 linked to 79 illnesses in 21 states.

According to AP and USA Today:

Dry pet foods are an under-recognized source of salmonella infections in humans, and it’s likely other illnesses since then were unknowingly caused by tainted pet food, said Casey Barton Behravesh, the report’s lead author and a researcher at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While young children were most often affected, there’s no evidence that they got sick by eating pet food, Behravesh said. They probably became infected by touching affected animals or dirty pet food dishes, and then putting their hands in their mouths, she said.
In her study, sick children were no more likely to have played with or eaten pet food than other children. Instead, people were at risk for salmonella simply because they fed their pets in the kitchen, Behravesh says. People who became ill may have spread the bacteria around the kitchen because they failed to wash their hands after pouring dog chow into a bowl or handing the cat a treat.
With an almost-two-year old inquisitive boy in our house, I know how appealing pet food, pet food bowls, feeding pets and playing/laying on pet beds can be to a child. What’s most interesting to me is the reportedly 4-times higher rate of infection from feeding pets in the kitchen – as is the spread from washing pet food bowls as a factors. How this translates to general household dishwashing (especially after use with potentially contaminated raw foods such as meat) is worth looking at further and modeling.
Doug and Randy Phebus created the below video at the time of the pet food-linked outbreak. They’ve both aged a bit but the info remains current.

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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.