Feeding pet dogs and cats with raw meat is fast becoming a popular but contentious trend. After all, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been actively warning the public about the dangers of eating uncooked food, particularly raw beef, chicken and pork, as well as eggs.
Background of the CDC and FDA Warnings
Scientific studies have already proven that raw meat contains two of the most harmful bacteria, salmonella and campylobacter. Both pathogens have been established as the most common causes of food contamination. When meat is consumed raw, or if cooked at a temperature not enough to kill the harmful bacteria, the risk of bacterial infection manifested by way of diarrhea or other foodborne illness, is high.
The CDC recently reported that of the average 48 million Americans who fall ill on a yearly basis, about 128,000 were hospitalized as a result of bacterial infection due to food contamination. Even worse is that around 3,000 had died from foodborne illness caused by harmful pathogens like salmonella, campylobacter, listeria or Escherichia Coli (E. coli).
It follows that if raw or uncooked meat is unsafe for human consumption, the same is true for pet animals. In addition, nutrition researchers say there is evidence that raw meat diets can cause intestinal injuries and dental problems.
However, proponents of the raw-meat-for-dogs movement argue that raw meat is a better alternative to feeding their pet with food containing additives, or contaminated as a result of processing. Moreover, they assert that feeding their pets with raw meat helps solve health disorders such as allergies and skin problems. Researchers though, refute such benefits; as they have not found evidence supporting those claims.
How Does Food Contamination Happen?
Cross contamination occurs when bacteria and viruses are transferred from a contaminated food or surface; such as when juices from raw meat drip onto other foods while in shopping carts, bags or on countertops. In some cases bacterial transfers happen when the same chopping board and utensils were used in preparing other food items. Handling and touching food with unwashed hands can also result in cross contamination.
Although bacteria can be killed when food is cooked at the right temperature, those that have been transferred to ready-to-eat edibles like fruits and vegetables not requiring high cooking temperature, can be ingested upon consumption. .
However, cross contamination can occur right from the very source and during distribution to grocery stores, restaurants, diners, cafeteria and even in hospitals. Pathogens and bacteria that thrive in farm animals can also spread in the environment through their feces. If not properly cleaned, it will allow the transfer of the harmful bacteria to other animals.
Hens with bacterial infection on the other hand will transfer the disease-causing pathogen through the yolk of the eggs they produce. If germs contaminate bins, surfaces, vans or food processing lines, those that are placed or that passed through the contaminated areas will likewise be defiled.
Now if dogs or pets regularly consume raw meat, and as a result suffer from diarrhea, their feces will become pathogen-carriers; likely putting a home under greater threats of cross contamination. The risks are greater if pets are allowed to wander inside the kitchen and/or dining area, as well as sit on couches or lie in bed with their owners.
In such cases, pets that regularly eat raw meat tend to exude strong, unpleasant smell that cannot be removed by ordinary deodorizers. Most homeowners faced with such problems find it necessary to call on a professional who renders pet odor and urine removal services.