Pet food and treats, like many other types of food, can be contaminated with harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses, such as salmonellosis and listeriosis. Although FDA continues our effort to reduce contamination of pet food, pet owners should be mindful of the potential risks. You can lower your risk of getting a foodborne illness from contaminated pet food and treats by following these simple and safe handling instructions:
Tips for Buying Pet Food
- Buy pet food products (cans, pouches, or bags) that are in good condition. Check the packaging for visible signs of damage, such as dents, tears, and discolorations.
Tips for Preparing Pet Food
- Begin and end with clean hands. Both before and after handling pet food and treats, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and hot water.
- Wash pet food bowls and scooping utensils with soap and hot water after each use.
- Do not use your pet’s food bowl as a scooping utensil. Use a clean scoop, spoon, or cup instead. Use the scooping utensil only for scooping pet food.
- Throw out old or spoiled pet food in a safe way, for example, by placing it in a securely tied plastic bag in a covered trash can.
Tips for Storing Pet Food
- Promptly refrigerate or throw out unused or leftover canned and pouched pet food. Tightly cover refrigerated pet food. Set your refrigerator to 40 F or below.
- Store dry pet food in a cool and dry place. The temperature should be less than 80 F. Excess heat or moisture can cause the nutrients to break down.
- Store dry pet food in its original bag and keep the top of the bag tightly folded down.
- Keep pet food in a secure location to prevent your pet from eating an entire supply at once.
Raw Pet Food
FDA thinks that raw pet food poses significant health risks to pets and pet owners. Because raw pet food is more likely than processed pet food to contain harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes, the single best thing you can do to prevent infection with these foodborne bacteria is to not feed your pet a raw diet. However, we understand that some people prefer to feed raw pet food diets to their pets. If you choose to feed raw pet food, you should be aware of the risks.