Is Raw Safe?

August 11, 2010

What about E-coli, salmonella and other microbes? Is raw meat safe?

This is a very legitimate concern, and is often the first question pet owners have. It is an easy question to answer. Properly prepared raw meat-based diets are very safe for dogs and cats, and appear to have a better safety record than processed grain-based foods.

Dogs are scavengers and can eat foods humans can never eat.

For hundreds of thousands of years, dogs ate only raw foods; often old, rotten raw foods. For 99.99% of the history of dogs, nobody ever cooked for them. And they ate very little grain. Dogs are scavengers. Picture giving your dog a bone with some meat on it. She buries it in the backyard, digging it up weeks later. Or the dog drinking from a duck pond. They can thrive in the presence of microbes that would kill humans.

Cats and Dogs are natural carnivores that have evolved while eating their prey raw.

Cats were originally domesticated to protect granaries because cats would not eat grain, just pests that wanted the grain.  Similarly dogs come from the wolf who is a scavanger that eats meat and plants.  Both dogs and cats have short, highly acidic digestive systems.  Their shorter digestive time does not allow harmful bacteria an opportunity to establish themselves.

Steve’s high quality preparation and ingredients minimize any risk of bacterial problems.

Steve’s is produced at a human-edible meat processor that meets the highest quality standards in the country. For example, we produce the food in a refrigerated room (42° F), and we never allow the food to get over 27° F, and freeze all the ingredients for more than 72 hours to kill any latent trematodes, worms, and parasites.

In addition, we add Fructooligosaccharide (FOS, labeled as extract of chicory) which is a prebiotic compound that selectively stimulates growth of beneficial bacteria, including Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and Bacteroides species. Establishment of these beneficial genera in the colon reduces the numbers of harmful bacteria.

Properly prepared raw meat-based diets have proven to be very safe.

The rapidly increasing popularity of raw meat based foods alone is nearly proof that raw meat-based diets are safe. Much of the growth is through word-of-mouth and Internet chat groups. If there were problems, word would spread very quickly. At Steve’s Real Food, we know all the leading companies that sell raw meat-based diets. Together, the companies have fed hundreds of thousands of dogs for many decades without a single documented death due to a bacterial problem. We know most of the leading retailers nationally who sell raw meat diets, have exhibited at veterinarian conferences, and have met many thousands of consumers. If there were a safety problem with proper raw diets, we would know. We’ve heard of no documented cases of death due to bacterial problems from eating raw meat-based diets.

On the other hand, many grain-based foods have had major problems. Remember the vomitoxin problem many premium brands had a few years ago? Many dogs died. Vomitoxin is a by-product from the bacteria that infects the corn. In addition, pet foods that include peanut hulls are susceptible to aflatoxin poisonings.

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