Certain canine raw food diets and human health risk

Certain canine raw food diets ‘massive’ human health risk, Vet Times.


I have raw fed my two girls -Shih Tzu’s for around 7/8 yrs and have never had an issue. Yes you have to be aware of cleanliness but no more than how you would treat preparing your own raw chicken for example. Making sure the surfaces are clean and spray with a suitable Antibacterial cleaner which most would do anyway. So personally I don’t buy into that statement. Vets don’t like raw feeders as they are not selling their own kibble and in many a case fewer trips to the vet.

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I don’t know about vets in general but mine don’t sell food in the surgery and won’t usually recommend one type over another. The vets don’t seem keen on raw feeding but they don’t make an issue of it. Apparently they are seeing a lot more cases of campylobacter than previously but whether it is connected with the popularity of raw feeding cannot be proved. I don’t know whether fewer trips to the vet as a result of raw feeding is the norm. Dogs can do very well and be perfectly healthy when fed alternative diets. As you say, good hygiene is a must when raw feeding. Sadly, not everyone has high standards and although the information is sparse, maybe that was a factor with the incidents in the report.

Public Health England advice on handling raw pet food is here.

I note this allegedly relates to green tripe and 3 cases relate to one supplier.

I am sure many people will be handling frozen and fresh uncooked turkeys in coming days…no doubt with less hygiene OCD than many raw dog food feeders.

Regadless of my comments the alleged tragic consequences cannot be ignored.


Coaster - I agree, it is tragic. The information in the links is frustratingly short of detail as to how the Shiga toxin producing E. coli was transmitted and if it could have been prevented. This would have been useful, especially for raw feeders. Good hygiene in the kitchen may go a long way towards preventing the spread of disease. Unfortunately, what it doesn’t stop is bacterial shedding by the dog once they have eaten infected meat.

I stand by my prior comments, however, some may feel that the alleged comment posted on the VT link is relevant…

" Weren’t the strains of STEC different in the raw dog food from the ones that infected people? In one case, where the strain of STEC was identical to the other infections, wasn’t there was no family link to a raw fed pet?…oh yes, and putative only means “generally considered”, ie “not proven”. "

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Here is a link that will download a PDF of the Public Health England (STEC) investigation.

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Thank you Seaweed. What did you make of it? It’s an interesting report although some of it is difficult for the lay person to understand as it contains scientific data. It does help us to understand why the issue is so complex.
I was interested in this comment:

There is evidence of salmonella, listeria and campylobacter being carried by clinically health companion animals (page 15).
On the same page there is information pertaining to statutory microbiology tests performed by companies:
Meanwhile, there are legislative requirements for regular microbiological testing for salmonella and enterobacteriaceae , where findings demonstrate microbial levels above those stipulated in the regulation, rapid action is taken to address this non- compliance including recall of product where appropriate.(ACAF paper). Testing, however, **is not required for listeria, campylobacter or STEC.** (my bold) The IMT concluded therefore, the best approach to reduce the risk of infection is to improve awareness of risk and promote good hygiene practices when handling raw pet food.
A friend’s dog (not raw fed) was recently very ill due to campylobacter. The vet couldn’t say how the dog had become infected but noted that they are seeing increasing numbers of animals (not raw fed) with this infection. Although it cannot be proved, they are wondering if it is due to picking it up from carrier/shedding raw fed dogs.


Handling & preparing poultry for home cooked meals &/or driving to shops to get same present higher risks.


Yes, Dottie an interesting and serious investigation. However I will continue to passionately feed raw complete with of course sensible hygiene standards. Granted that many do not wish to do so for a variety of reasons. Paleo Ridge Raw put hygiene instructions on their product labels whether other companies follow suit or whether they put hygiene instructions in with the order I don’t know. The pioneers on dog food nutrition and longevity such as Dr Karen Becker, Rodney Habib and our own Nick Thompson plus others talk passionately of getting off of processed food and on to raw. I don’t think I’ve ever read a passionate article on feeding processed dog food.


This incident will probably not deter many raw feeders. Like the people you mention, they tend to be passionate about this method of feeding. Also, there is no personal aspect to it. Had the incident been in the media it would (arguably) have had more impact. It is good to that some companies are adding hygiene advice to their packaging. However, I still feel that the issue of vulnerability to infection should be addressed by companies.

For pet owners who cannot, or do not want to feed raw meat but are not wholly content with processed food, freshly cooked food might be worth considering. Butternut Box has been particularly innovative in this field and I look forward to seeing more companies coming along. Good quality wet food might also be acceptable.

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The Daily Mail ran a short article recently on Public Health England and raw dog food, “Deadly bugs in trendy raw pet foods 'pose a risk to owners”.
Natures Menu have responded to the article.
UK pet company hits back at raw food claims. https://pettradextra.newsweaver.com/Newsletter/1te92yyej4b?a=1&p=3202033&t=535

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An interesting read, but if you have common sense and treat the raw food with care, then all should be well. We do live in a nanny state and the media are very good at making us paranoid.
I did a lot of thinking before I put my Dog onto raw, as I was worried about the food, but on speaking to Sammy at Luna and me she put my mind at rest. I always give my dog a clean bowl when he has a meal and when he has finished I then put the bowl in the dishwasher and clean down the surface I have been using and wash my hands.
My dog has been on lots of different food as he has a sensitive tummy and he does the best on raw. :slight_smile:


The original article by Public Health England did not go into detail as to how this alleged transmission occurred so we are left in the dark about it. Anyone who earns their living working in people’s homes will know that hygiene standards vary enormously, some being extremely poor. It could be that correct procedures were not adhered to but of course that equally might not be the case.

Re the piece by Natures Menu, in light of the lack of detail about the case, he is brave to take on the statutory body (Public Health England) who investigated these incidents. Of note are his comments:

“We therefore believe that the risk to customers in **handling** raw pet food is no higher than that of handling raw meat for their own consumption, **providing basic hygiene rules are implemented.** (my bold)

“Raw feeding responsibly is completely safe…(my bold)

Of course he is correct about following good hygiene rules but handling meat is not the whole issue. There is evidence that shedding of bacteria can occur after consuming bacteria laden food url=https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/infection-and-global-health/research/pet-health/raw-pet-food/[/url] but this doesn’t seem to be mentioned.

He says it is ‘completely safe’ yet recalls due to infection do occur. I am aware of dogs who were made ill by eating contaminated raw food - the recall was too late. Those dogs had diarrhoea and were probably shedding salmonella into the environment. Some time ago I too inadvertently fed a raw food product that was recalled due to salmonella. Fortunately the dogs were alright. Can any food be guaranteed to be ‘completely safe’?

Perhaps this might be one reason why Public Health England state that with the increased uptake of raw feeding they are expecting more problems. The key is in the word ‘public’ - this government body is concerned with the wider issue of public health, not just the individual.

How fashionable raw meat dog food could see pet owners risk suffering dangerous bugs including E.coli when ‘kissing’ their pooches after eating is an article that is in today’s Daily Mail newspaper.

The article is about research that was published in the BMJ Journals Veterinary Record - Occurrence of Salmonella, Campylobacter, Clostridium and Enterobacteriaceae in raw meat-based diets for dogs. It was a six month trial in 2017 and the sample size was 60. According to the labels, the products originated from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany and the UK. The pdf version is here. Another article on the same piece of reseach here.

In the conclusion, the authors give the usual hygiene advice and advice re use of raw pet food where the dog is in contact with vulnerable people:

“Dogs in families with infants, elderly people or immunocompromised individuals should also not be fed RMBD, as these groups are more susceptible to infections.”


Thank you for posting on the BMJ study Dottie and well spotted.
Dr Conor Brady, Re the Recent “Don’t Kiss the Raw-Fed Dog After Dinner” Article in the Paper Yesterday, That Advice Goes for a Dry Fed Dog Too, Why do They Keep Missing That?

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Agree with that.

The PFMA respond to the “Occurrence of Salmonella, Campylobacter, Clostridium and Enterobacteriaceae in raw meat-based diets for dogs” study.
Feeding commercial raw pet foods safely and responsibly. https://www.pfma.org.uk/news/feeding-

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Raw diets for dogs and cats: a review, with particular reference to microbiological hazards. (April 2019) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jsap.13000

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