Prevent Foodborne Illness from Raw Pet Food
If you choose to feed raw pet food to your pet, be aware that you can infect yourself with Salmonella or L. monocytogenes by spreading the bacteria from the contaminated food to your mouth. For instance, you may accidentally ingest the bacteria if you touch your mouth while preparing the raw food or after handling a contaminated utensil. If you get Salmonella or L. monocytogenes on your hands or clothing, you can also spread the bacteria to other people, objects, and surfaces.
Here are some tips to prevent infection with Salmonella and L. monocytogenes:
- Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water (for at least 20 seconds) after handling raw pet food, and after touching surfaces or objects that have come in contact with the raw food. Potential contaminated surfaces include countertops and the inside of refrigerators and microwaves. Potential contaminated objects include kitchen utensils, feeding bowls, and cutting boards.
- Thoroughly clean and disinfect all surfaces and objects that come in contact with raw pet food. First wash with hot soapy water and then follow with a disinfectant. A solution of 1 tablespoon bleach to 1 quart (4 cups) water is an effective disinfectant. For a larger supply of the disinfectant solution, add ¼ cup bleach to 1 gallon (16 cups) water. You can also run items through the dishwasher after each use to clean and disinfect them.
- Freeze raw meat and poultry products until you are ready to use them, and thaw them in your refrigerator or microwave, not on your countertop or in your sink.
- Carefully handle raw and frozen meat and poultry products. Don’t rinse raw meat, poultry, fish, and seafood. Bacteria in the raw juices can splash and spread to other food and surfaces.
- Keep raw food separate from other food.
- Immediately cover and refrigerate what your pet doesn’t eat, or throw the leftovers out safely.
- If you’re using raw ingredients to make your own cooked pet food, be sure to cook all food to a proper internal temperature as measured by a food thermometer. Thorough cooking kills Salmonella, L. monocytogenes, and other harmful foodborne bacteria.
- Don’t kiss your pet around its mouth, and don’t let your pet lick your face. This is especially important after your pet has just finished eating raw food.
- Thoroughly wash your hands after touching or being licked by your pet. If your pet gives you a “kiss,” be sure to also wash your face.
Tips for Preparing Pet Food
- Begin and end with clean hands. Both before and after handling pet food and treats, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and hot water.
- Wash pet food bowls and scooping utensils with soap and hot water after each use.
- Do not use your pet’s food bowl as a scooping utensil. Use a clean scoop, spoon, or cup instead. Use the scooping utensil only for scooping pet food.
- Throw out old or spoiled pet food in a safe way, for example, by placing it in a securely tied plastic bag in a covered trash can.
Tips for Storing Pet Food
- Promptly refrigerate or throw out unused or leftover canned and pouched pet food. Tightly cover refrigerated pet food. Set your refrigerator to 40 F or below.
- Keep pet food in a secure location to prevent your pet from eating an entire supply at once.