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Dog Food Danger

Remember being a kid and daring your brother to eat dog food?

Well, don't do that any more.

That timeless prank seems riskier in light of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's report last week about an outbreak of salmonella infections apparently caused by contaminated dry dog food. From 2006 to 2007, a least 70 people got sick -- 40 percent of them infants. And they didn't actually have to ingest any dog food to experience the fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain that salmonella brings. (That's just what otherwise healthy people are in for; those with weakened immune systems can have more severe symptoms or even die.) Merely handling the chow or the bowl the dog eats from, even the sink you rinse the bowl in, can put you in contact with salmonella germs.

No dogs appeared to have been sickened. But as the CDC estimates that only about 3 percent of human salmonella cases are confirmed in a lab, many more than 70 people were likely afflicted during this outbreak.

The Pennsylvania manufacturer of the 50-pound bags of Red Flannel Large Breed Adult Formula Dry Dog Food implicated in -- but not definitively tied to -- the outbreak voluntarily recalled the product and stopped making more while it cleaned its plant.

Salmonella's been linked to pet food --and treats -- before; just check this list maintained by the FDA, the federal agency that oversees pet-food safety. The FDA offers this set of tips for protecting yourself against salmonella should it be in the food you feed your dog. (There's no way of telling if it's tainted, by the way, short of taking it to a lab. I mean laboratory; your Golden Lab won't know.)

Of course, pet food's not the only source of salmonella infection (as I noted in this blog a few weeks ago). From pet turtles to raw eggs, it seems the stuff is lurking everywhere. (Remember last year's peanut-butter-borne salmonella outbreak?)

So what to do? I, for one, am careful what I touch and where I let infants and toddlers roam; I also wash my hands numerous times a day.

But one thing I'm not going to let myself do: become consumed with worry and fear that everything I touch or put in my mouth might make me or my family sick. Call it balancing my physical health with my mental health.

How do you maintain that balance? I'd appreciate your tips.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  May 20, 2008; 7:07 AM ET
Categories:  Family Health  
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Comments

Well salmonella is nothing new. It's been around a long long time. It has only recently in the past 10-15 years been a problem. I think a large part of it is our weakening defense against it due to the increasingly sanintary conditions. If you grew up in the 70s and 80's can you honestly tell me that your mom would wipe down the counters after making a chicken dinner with a anti-bacterial wipe (becuase they didn't exist back then)? Raw chicken is loaded with salmonella (so are live chickens for that matter). I bet I got exposed as a kid often, but it didn't affect me becuase I had the antibodies.

Posted by: akmzrazor | May 20, 2008 8:14 AM | Report abuse

There are organic, high-quality dog food available for dogs and other pets nowadays. Don't feed your pets cheap pet food. Why would I feed my puppy food that I am afraid to handle?

Posted by: BMG | May 20, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Just blame the Chinese and get over it.

Posted by: Blame the Chinese | May 20, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Broken link in story above:
"The FDA offers this set of [tips] for protecting yourself against salmonella should it be in the food you feed your dog."

Posted by: KLS | May 20, 2008 7:32 PM | Report abuse

BMG- Perhaps because some people can't afford organic food for themselves, never mind for their dogs.

Not everybody can afford to go to Whole Foods every week.

Posted by: KM | May 21, 2008 6:42 AM | Report abuse

I cook for my dogs. One has a special diet for bladder stones. The pet food companies have nothing to offer. People who laugh at people who feed their dogs homemade food should try eating the same nasty paste or kibble day after day. Dogs eat it because they have no other choice. Would you eat it?

Posted by: Pam | May 21, 2008 8:23 PM | Report abuse

I cook for my dogs. One has a special diet for bladder stones. The pet food companies have nothing to offer. People who laugh at people who feed their dogs homemade food should try eating the same nasty paste or kibble day after day. Dogs eat it because they have no other choice. Would you eat it?

Posted by: Pam | May 21, 2008 8:24 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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