If you choose to feed raw pet food to your pet, it's important to take precautions to prevent the spread of bacteria like Salmonella and L. monocytogenes. These bacteria can cause foodborne illnesses and can be transmitted to humans. Follow these tips to reduce the risk of infection:
1. Hand Hygiene: - Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after handling raw pet food. Also, wash your hands after touching surfaces or objects that have come into contact with the raw food. - Be mindful of potential contaminated surfaces such as countertops, refrigerators, and microwaves. Clean and disinfect these surfaces regularly.
2. Cleaning and Disinfection: - Thoroughly clean and disinfect all surfaces and objects that come into contact with raw pet food. Start by washing them with hot soapy water and then use a disinfectant. - An effective disinfectant solution can be made by mixing 1 tablespoon of bleach with 1 quart (4 cups) of water. For larger quantities, mix ¼ cup of bleach with 1 gallon (16 cups) of water. Dishwashing can also help sanitize items.
3. Proper Storage and Thawing: - Freeze raw meat and poultry products until you're ready to use them. Thaw them in the refrigerator or microwave, avoiding countertop or sink thawing methods. - Handle raw and frozen pet food with care, avoiding cross-contamination with other food items. Refrain from rinsing raw meat, poultry, fish, or seafood as it can spread bacteria.
4. Separation and Leftovers: - Keep raw pet food separate from other food items to prevent cross-contamination. - Promptly refrigerate or discard any uneaten or leftover raw pet food. Cover and store it safely. - If you're using raw ingredients to make cooked pet food, ensure it reaches a proper internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria.
5. Pet and Human Interaction: - Avoid letting your pet lick your face, especially after consuming raw pet food. - After being licked by your pet, wash your hands and face thoroughly to minimize the risk of bacterial transmission.
Tips for Preparing Pet Food: - Begin and end with clean hands. Wash your hands with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling pet food or treats. - Wash pet food bowls and scooping utensils with hot, soapy water after each use. Avoid using the pet's food bowl as a scooping utensil and use a dedicated clean scoop, spoon, or cup instead. - Dispose of old or spoiled pet food safely by placing it in a securely tied plastic bag in a covered trash can.
Tips for Storing Pet Food: - Refrigerate or discard unused or leftover canned and pouched pet food promptly. Ensure the refrigerated pet food is tightly covered, and set your refrigerator temperature to 40°F (4°C) or below. - Store pet food in a secure location to prevent your pet from consuming excessive amounts at once.
By following these guidelines, you can minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses associated with handling raw pet food and ensure the health and safety of both your pet and yourself.