Today’s headline from the FDA cautions pet owners not to feed Texas Tripe raw pet food after samples from some of the lots tested positive for Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes (L. mono). Texas Tripe Inc. has recalled 35 lots for each of 23 product varieties. The extensive list of the recalled products can be found on the FDA’s webpage “What products are involved?”
As with previous recalls of pet food contaminated with pathogens, the FDA warns that having contact with pet food contaminated with pathogenic bacteria represent a serious threat to human and animal health.
How did the government find out something was wrong with Texas Tripe’s products? It was when the Office of the Texas State Chemist collected 23 product samples at Texas Tripe and found that out of the 23 samples, 16 tested positive for L. mono and Salmonella; which means that almost 70% of the samples collected were contaminated with pathogenic bacteria.
FDA followed up these findings with an inspection of the facility and collected and analyzed samples, and their tests confirmed that some of the samples of the Texas Tripe pet food contained Salmonella and L. mono.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO WHEN A CONTAMINATED PET FOOD IS IN YOUR HOME
Clean, clean, and clean some more. While it is impossible to disinfect your home or your pet, the FDA offers the following advice:
Consumers who have had this product in their homes should clean refrigerators/freezers where the product was stored and clean and disinfect all bowls, utensils, food prep surfaces, pet bedding, toys, floors, and any other surfaces that the food or pet may have had contact with. Clean up the pet’s feces in yards or parks where people or other animals may become exposed. Consumers should thoroughly wash their hands after handling the recalled product or cleaning up potentially contaminated items and surfaces.
WHY WE SHOULD WORRY ABOUT PATHOGENIC BACTERIA
As with any product contaminated with pathogens such as Salmonella and L. mono, you need to know you can get sick after coming into contact with them.
The FDA and the CDC tell us why:
Salmonella is a bacterium that can cause illness and death in humans and animals, especially those who are very young, very old, or have weak immune systems. According to the CDC, people infected with Salmonella can develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps; In some cases, diarrhea may be so severe that they need to be hospitalized. In some patients, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other body sites.
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOUR PET IS SICK WITH SALMONELLOSIS?
Short answer? You don’t. Meanwhile, your pet could be a harbinger of the pathogens spreading it to you, your children, and your environment while appearing to be perfectly healthy.
The FDA explains how this can happen:
Pets do not always display symptoms when infected with Salmonella, but signs can include vomiting, diarrhea (which may be bloody), fever, loss of appetite, and/or decreased activity level. If your pet has these symptoms, consult a veterinarian promptly. You should also be aware that infected pets can shed the bacteria in their feces and saliva without showing signs of being sick, further contaminating the household environment.
HOW DANGEROUS IS LISTERIOSIS IN HUMANS?
As with Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium that can cause illness and death in humans and animals, especially those who are pregnant, very young, very old, or have weak immune systems. But there is a particular worry for pregnant women because the illness can have devastating consequences on them and their unborn child.
According to the CDC:
Pregnant women typically experience only fever and other flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue and muscle aches. However, infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn.
WHAT HAPPENS IF A PET IS A CARRIER OF LISTERIA MONOCYTOGENES?
The problem is, that with pathogens such as Salmonella and L. mono, pets may not show any signs at all that they are carriers of the bacteria.
The FDA explains how this can happen:
L. mono infections are uncommon in pets, but they are possible. Symptoms may include mild to severe diarrhea; anorexia; fever; nervous, muscular and respiratory signs; abortion; depression; shock; and death. Pets do not need to display symptoms to be able to pass L. mono on to their human companions. Once L. mono gets established in the pet’s gastrointestinal tract, the animal can shed the bacteria, further contaminating the household environment.
WHY IS THE FDA WORRIED?
As the FDA has warned numerous times, these pathogens are a serious concern. Just as with the recent nationwide pig ear treat recalls, Salmonella caused serious illness in some of the people that handled the treats.
The FDA warns:
Pet foods and treats contaminated with Salmonella and L. mono are of particular public health importance because they can affect both human and animal health. Pets can get sick from these pathogens and may also be carriers of the bacteria and pass it on to their human companions without appearing to be ill. People can get sick from handling contaminated pet foods and treats or touching surfaces that have had contact with the contaminated pet foods and treats. Additionally, if a person gets Salmonella or L. mono on their hands, they can spread the bacteria to other people, objects, and surfaces.
WHY PATHOGENS ARE NOT ALLOWED IN FOOD
As if anyone needs an explanation, it bears repeating that under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act it requires that all animal food, like human food, be safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled.
The problem that faces raw pet food manufacturers, like Texas Tripe, is that without effective control for pathogens their products are more likely to contain pathogens such as Salmonella and L. mono.
WHAT DO I THINK ABOUT RAW PET FOOD? READ ABOUT IT HERE:
*Before you go, I need your help*
The work that I do is entirely supported by individuals – readers just like you. Without it, this vital work could not continue.
The investigative journalism that you read here on Poisoned Pets is priceless – but it is not free.
So, the next time you find spare change in your couch cushions or a dollar in your laundry, keep in mind that giving a little can matter a lot. If you’re ready to help save lives, make a gift to Poisoned Pets today.