Rip Off Britain on Raw Food

Rip Off Britain discusses raw food for dogs. Gloria Hunniford covers the subject - she has acquired a new Cavalier pup. The piece is at 18.20 minutes into the episode. Gloria discusses the subject with clinical nutritionist and lecturer Mike Davies and visits the British Veterinary Association for it’s opinion.

There is an all too familiar account of an itchy dog whose condition has been transformed by having raw food. A while ago I read that it is now thought that storage mite allergy in dogs is more common than once supposed. I therefore wonder if some of these dogs are being helped by the elimination of storage mite rather than the raw diet itself. If so, the same thing could be achieved by home cooking or feeding a good quality, grain free wet food. The other thing that occurs to me is that you rarely hear of what the dog was fed before and this makes comparisons all but impossible.

Mike Davies does not recommend raw feeding for puppies because of the nutritional element of it and explains quite clearly why.


Thanks for the heads up Dottie.

It seemed to me that the segment covering raw feeding tried to be pretty fair in the short time available. Though an unsurprising mixture of answers given by the show-ring folks as to what they fed. :wink:

Overall, I felt the BVA slanted slightly more towards the fears surrounding pathogens in raw meat.

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Yes, these items are usually too short. I can see Gloria’s point in discontinuing raw feeding. Sounds like she was very ill. I have a friend who is in the process of taking her dog off raw food because she is due to have surgery which will be very close to the brain. She is looking for an alternative food so would like to have known what Gloria chose.

The BVA’s stance on raw feeding/pathogen risk is well known. Mike Davies looked at it from a nutritional aspect and I found that interesting, particularly in relation to puppies.

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Yes it sounds like Gloria is at this time veering towards moving away from raw food and this may indicate a change to Polly’s diet, but at the same time is saying “the jury is still out” implying that she may not…keeps us guessing awhile methinks!

Naturally this is an owner’s decision to make, yet I can’t help feeling that as this is being discussed on the BBC, it may prompt the Kennel Club Accredited Breeder (who has weaned the pup onto raw food) to also desire a discussion of a possible change to the pup’s diet. We shall see!

Mike was rightly concerned with the need to get the nutrient balance right in a raw food diet. One point he made was feeding too much meat would lead to a shortage of calcium. Yet adding more calcium as a supplement would affect other minerals such as zinc and copper.


I watched the footage.

No compelling evidence that appropriate raw feeding is a health risk to healthy dogs.

The same bacteria risks arguably apply to handling uncooked meat used for human meals if basic hygiene precautions are not undertaken.

Many anti-raw brigade eat home prepared roast dinners & eat in restaraunts where staff handle uncooked meat.

Not having the correct ratios of meat, bone & offal is a separate issue to bacteria concerns & can be easily addressed or avoided.

Nothing mentioned convinces me that feeding well sourced, suitably stored & prepared raw food is dangerous…that is assuming people are capable enough to take basic hygiene steps.

Thought it was a great watch.

I find it hard coming to terms with the raw diet due to the increased risk of pathogens. No matter how you think about it, raw chicken around in the house just carriers more bacteria, fact.

I also have concerns over the nutritional completeness of a lot of the meals too.

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Coaster - your last sentence is very pertinent. My job involved going into houses and believe me, the basic hygiene steps of which you speak vary widely. The dog in the film was eating stuffed hoof and happily dragging it all over the floor! It doesn’t take much imagination to consider what might happen if/when a baby or toddler comes along and the parent hasn’t washed the floor.

Anyone who has been involved in dealing with infections, particularly antibiotic resistant ones is going to take a more serious view of this. People who work in the medical professions are seeing these problems on a regular basis so it is hardly surprising that they are not in favour of anything that poses an unnecessary risk. By and large, the majority of dogs do not need to eat raw meat - they thrive perfectly well on alternative food.

There is enough research to indicate that there is a risk, particularly from shedding but maybe it is a question of how much. If folk want to feed raw then that’s ok but they should at least be made fully aware of the potential problems so I am glad that programmes like this are educating the public. They might well encourage people to feed raw responsibly.

From personal experience, I am not quite sure that companies do enough to get the message about bacteria in raw meat across, particularly for households that include vulnerable people.

BTW does anyone know whether or not every single batch of raw food destined for pet food is tested for bacteria?

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My frustration is that many who express concerns re raw batteria also handle uncooked meat usec for human meals. Rightly or wrongly…many home & commercial chefs/cooks don’t wash their hands every 5 minutes !

Most owners pick up dog faeces & get licked by dogs after they have been rolling in, licking, scavenging & sniffing allsorts.

I would be interested to see any evidence of serious human illnesses that have been linked to raw dog food or exposude to shedding dogs fed on raw. Maybe those concerned should NEVER stroke another dog without proof raw has never been fed !

Bateria control info on products that I mainly currently feed contained within this CLICKY article … I cannot evidence what measures are in place for every BARF supplier.

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I would be interested to know the following…

Do you ever handle raw poultry or other meat when preparing meals in the home ?

Do you eat food from restaraunts, cafes, take aways ?

I agree quality can vary … Any specific products that you have nutritional concerns about ?

Sometimes it is worth stating the obvious…sorry if this sounds like it is just that… the obvious! Nonetheless, there must be those suitably correct degrees and standards of hygiene in place for handling all food albeit raw food, or not - surely that is a given.

When we handle raw food with the intention of cooking and eating the food ourselves, the greater ‘risk’ to us is during storage and preparation of the raw food; in other words the pre-ingestion stage! Our responsibility lies with ensuring the raw food is cooked correctly, along with thoroughly cleaning the storage and preparation areas appropriately.

When we handle raw food with the intention of feeding the food to our dogs, then in addition to those ‘risks’ (of storage and preparation of raw food), there are further important and relevant ‘risks’ to ourselves and others when the dog is actually in the process of eating raw food (the ingestion stage) and of course after the dog has eaten raw food.

And if your dog is possibly one to always eat every raw meal in the same place and always from a dog’s bowl then any associated ‘risk’ is naturally lessened…However, in reality, dogs thoroughly enjoy dragging along and chomping down on their raw food. [I’ve known many to enjoy a raw rack of lamb bones in this way!!] And hand-in-hand with that method of feeding come the associated and necessary responsibilities.

This is one of many reasons why feeding a dog raw food must surely absolutely be an individual choice.

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Thanks for the reply.

I am glad we seem to agree that humans contacting raw dog food is of similar risk to contacting raw meat for human conumption.

As for the risk to humans from raw dog food ingestion …Ours get fed outside or occasionally in a cleaned porch. I discourage kissing/licking after a feed, (as indicated dogs regularly mouth contact arguably worse things…thankfully Lycozyme kills many germs).

Feeding any food is an individual choce. My issue is not with those that do not feed or promote feeding raw. My issue is that shared misinformation or part information might genuinely cause some to make an ill informed individual choice.

Quite simply I felt the programme article included some contributions which were not fully evidenced, were misleading &/or lacked context.

Yes I understand what you are saying, and I agree that if information (in context) is being supplied inaccurately and is further compounded by being shared as such, then in it’s own way, this is less desirable than not being given the information in the first place! :-\

Coaster, can you please say what information was wrong?

I feed raw food to my dogs. I like to think I apply sensible hygeine measures to all the food I prepare. Whilst not wishing to go off on a tangent it is worth noting people have suffered ecoli and samonella from eating washed bagged salad. Indeed 2 people died from eating bagged rocket. We seemed to have lost all common sense approach to handling food.

IIRC the programmes that have recently been on television about the risk of feeding raw food to dogs have not been specifically about handling it but more geared towards shedding of pathogenic bacteria by the dog. There are studies which have indicated that this can, and does occur. Also, some dogs can by asymptomatic carriers of bacteria.

My point was that there are risks from all sorts of foods, not just raw dog meat.

The programme featured 3 interviews during which contributors spoke of nutritional risks by getting ratios of meat, bone, offal & muscle correct. I accept this gives some risk but this can be achieved down DIY route with some care. Good raw complete products help negate this risk. The contributors making bacteria comments made some comments which lacked context.

I am mindful the programme made reference to shedding & that this has been discussed on here. Whilst I accept that some may have concerns I am yet to see any factual findings linking bacteria from shedding to human illness or risk of same. I am happy to consider any evidence offered on the subject with an open mind.

I accept that risks can vary depending on control factors, environment & differing individual vulnerabilities. I can see why some high risk households might have to take additional hygiene measures or perhaps even choose to feed other food types in extreme cases.

It would be more helpful if programme makers & dog feeding communities did more to cause owners to make informed decisions. For those that choose to feed raw, perhaps some new or uneducated in it might benefit from being imparted with good advice re do’s & don’ts rather than advised against feeding it.

I don’t want to seem to turn on anti-raw feeders, however, depending on various factors there can be risks with other food types - not least some kibbles. Again folk need to aware of potential risks & issues.

I should also add that whilst I happily feed raw complete now I am open minded enough to consider other food types for the future. I have prior fed kibble & it is no secret that I have prior taken an interest in cold pressed, air & freeze dried products. I am not opposed to decent home cooked meals either.

Finally & somewhat on a tangent…I think it is relevant that we consider the name of the TV show that featured the article on raw dog food “RIP OFF BRITAIN”

It is no secret that costs of feeding raw food to dogs can be relatively high. I am very mindful of the daily cost to feed ours on a decent quality raw complete. If manufacturers of decent quality raw complete foods genuinely want to continue to enjoy good business then some might argue that something needs to be done to reduce prices of raw complete food.

If raw complete prices were more competitive then I feel more existing customers might stay feeding quality raw completes instead of considering switching to the multitude of d.i.y. raw pet food suppliers… As has been highlighted on here before, the price differences per kg are huge. The reality is that many raw feeders start on raw complete, educate themselves & go on to source from more basic raw suppliers that serve the D.I.Y. customer base.

I hope some manufacturers or raw compete foods do more to retain existing customers or to attract them from d.i.y. suppliers, (of which there are many).


Knowing that manufacturers of pet food need approval from DEFRA to process animal by products (ABPs) into pet food (including raw dog food) is reassuring as (firstly) there are specific categories of food that may not be used - as defined in their guidance. Here is the link:

Animal by-product categories, site approval, hygiene and disposal - GOV.UK
Of note Category 1 APBs and Category 2 APBs - described and rated as high risk - reassuringly cannot be used in pet food. Whereas the definition of category 3 APBs is rated low risk and may be used.

And (secondly) these DEFRA regulations of 9 October 2014 issue specific information about raw food and reassuringly include that raw foods must be tested for bacterial infection.

Various quotes from the DEFRA regulations regarding manufacturing raw pet food are as follows:

“You must take samples from raw pet food”

“You must send samples to be tested for:
• Enterobacteriaceae
• Salmonella”

“Take a separate sample for Salmonella and Enterobacteriaceae from each of your product lines. You must have a different product line for:
• each species of meat or offal that you process
• each species of tripe that you process"

“Each sample should be made up of 10 sub-samples of 30 grams taken randomly from the product line.”

"The frequency of sampling will depend on several factors specific to each pet food facility.”

“The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) may ask you to carry out additional tests as one of your operating conditions.”

“Your sample will fail if any sub-sample contains any Salmonella colonies”

“A sample of raw pet food will fail if:
any of the sub-samples contains more than 5,000 Enterobacteriaceae colonies per gram
3 or more sub-samples contain more than 10 Enterobacteriaceae colonies per gram”

“Raw pet food must be packaged in clean leak-proof packaging.”

I'm unaware of how many of the species that make up the Enterobacteriaceae family are tested. Suffice to say there is a helpful section on identification of Bacteria, in the “UK Standards for Microbiology Investigations”, issued by Public Health England dated 13 April 2015. Notably, the “bacterial family Enterobacteriaceae currently has 53 genera” (groups) and of these, “26 genera are known to be associated with infections in humans”.

So as well as testing specifically for Salmonella, it’s this particular family of bacteria (Enterobacteriaceae) that is tested, yet which specific of the 170+ known species is unclear.

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Yes I agree that dog owners could be helped to make better informed decisions on nutrition using the medium of TV. Currently owners are helped regarding raw feeding by using the threads in the Raw Feeding section in this forum, by researching through the vast amounts of currently accessible information, and by reading appropriate referenced articles in books and scientific papers.

I’d also say that whoever advises against feeding raw food would have their own reasons for doing so, and which we are probably not aware of, unless of course their reasons are explained. The obverse when advising to feed raw food is also true yet a raw food diet does not suit all dogs. So for example, having had a dog that did not thrive on a raw food diet, I would not use that as a reason to advise against feeding raw food per se. However, I would advise that whatever food is fed to a dog, it must be nutritiously appropriate for that individual dog.

I don't want to seem to turn on anti-raw feeders, however, depending on various factors there can be risks with other food types - not least some kibbles. Again folk need to aware of potential risks & issues.

It may be an idea to begin a thread on “Dog food - Potential risks and issues” ?

It is no secret that costs of feeding raw food to dogs can be relatively high. I am very mindful of the daily cost to feed ours on a decent quality raw complete. If manufacturers of decent quality raw complete foods genuinely want to continue to enjoy good business then some might argue that something needs to be done to reduce prices of raw complete food.

Absolutely agree with you that high quality raw complete dog food is pretty expensive at the moment!! This reminds me of when 5* kibble initially appeared at vastly inflated prices. :o

As you say there are those that feel able to supply a nutritionally correctly balanced raw food diet of their own making for their dogs; yet for others that wish to feed a raw diet, the proportional peace of mind that comes with supplying an already complete raw food could prove worth paying the extra cost.


Thank you for clarifying Meg - I am only partially reassured.

At this point, I would agree with Gloria that it is confusing for pet owners. Please may we turn the thread into one that might be useful for pet owners who are considering the change? My own suggestions are:

  • Why feed raw? Read up as much as possible about it before deciding. This is really important, especially if going down the DIY route as it is essential to provide a balanced diet. At the moment there is no evidence that it is ‘better’ for the dog in terms of health and longevity although adherents are often very enthusiastic about raw feeding. However, certain dogs with health issues might do better on raw. In such cases, discuss with the vet who is treating the dog.
  • Consider your dog’s age and lifestyle. Sedentary dogs might not be able to utilize the food to its full extent. Fat has the highest number of calories and excess protein that cannot be utilized by the dog is excreted and also laid down as fat. If you have to feed consistently below the lower RDA of 2% of ideal body weight to prevent weight gain, it might not be the ideal product.
  • Processing - if minimal processing is a priority for the pet owner, raw feeding is a good choice. Some good quality wet foods mimic raw in composition and might be worth considering. Some are steamed.
  • Vulnerable persons in contact with the dog. There has been scientific research that dogs who eat infected meat can pose a risk to humans. If in doubt, talk to your health care practitioner.
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… another suggestion with considering a change of diet to begin feeding your dog raw food is to assess the health of your dog beforehand.

It’s important to be aware that if your dog is experiencing or suffers from a gastrointestinal disorder, (and this includes for example vomitting, constipation, diarrhoea), then ‘food’ is not being dealt with at the normal rate, in the bowel. These circumstances would allow bacteria in raw food a greater opportunity to multiply.

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