Raw advocates agree that the FDA has recently done some unfairly biased targeting of raw pet foods, in their attempt to prove that raw pet food is not safe. Despite this, the number of recalls for kibble companies far exceed what scrutinized focus on the tiny raw industry has produced. Most raw-feeding pet parents realize that dogs and cats are biologically designed to handle some levels of bacteria in their food and scoff at the FDA’s regulation attempts of perfectly natural bacteria that is found in most supermarket meat. In the summer of 2015, the FDA tested every raw food on the market for E. Coli, Salmonella, and Listeria. It is the position of Steve’s Real Food that this wass unnecessary, ineffective, and unfairly targeted the raw food industry, as many kibble companies have been forced to recall pet food for these contaminants due to actual illness outbreaks (which we have never had), but they were not being targeted in this testing. We believe that the best way to maintain our public image should a recall take place is through education and increasing public understanding of the real risks.
In March of 2013 Steve’s Real Food recalled one lot of our Turducken patties due to possible salmonella contamination. The product was pulled off the shelf by the MN Department of Agriculture and tested. It returned a positive result for trace amounts of salmonella. We have not had any confirmed reports of sick people or dogs even though 90% of the food recalled had already been fed. The reason we have not had confirmed cases of sickness is because salmonella will not make a healthy dog sick and humans that feed raw know to wash their hands after touching raw meat. These two things combined make raw meat with much higher levels than were found perfectly safe.
Within the last year the FDA has have a huge increase in pet food recalls due to salmonella contamination. This is due to the Food Safety Modernization Act which switched the FDA’s roll from being a reactive organization, whose job it is to remove tainted product from the market, to a proactive organization who is required to test products regardless of whether illness has actually been reported.
For raw pet food the problem is that it is a known and common occurrence for salmonella to be in raw meat. This is why we are instructed to cook meat and poultry to a specific temperature. If there was not bacteria in chicken then we would eat it raw if we so desired. Therefore it becomes very difficult to distribute a raw pet food that is susceptible to random testing and forced to do a “Voluntary Recall” when it tests positive.
Several raw pet food manufactures have implemented High Pressure Pasteurization to remove all pathogens. We have decided to not use this since studies show that it removes good bacteria,(probiotics) and digestive enzymes. We are looking into incorporating a naturally occurring organic compound that shows a 95% reduction in salmonella. Although it is not 100% effective we still believe maintaining the nutritional integrity of the food is most important.
Here is a video from Dr. Becker who talks about the positive and negative effects of HPP.
Worried about Salmonella in raw dog food? There have been many more dry dog food recalls for salmonella than raw food recalls.