Lots of students have pets at home or on campus. Did you known that dry pet foods and treats can be a health risk for humans? The CDC recently published a report about outbreaks of intestinal infections with a bacteria called Salmonella, that was linked to humans handling certain dry foods for their pets. These outbreaks were in multiple states, with Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio leading the way.
How do you safely feed Fido or Frisky? Here are some tips:
- Purchase products (canned or bagged) with no visible signs of damage to the packaging, such as dents, tears, or discolorations.
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds with water and soap right after handling pet food and treats, and especially before preparing, serving or eating food, drinks or preparing baby bottles
- Preferably, people should feed their pet in areas other than the kitchen.
- Wash pet food bowls, dishes and scooping utensils with soap and hot water regularly. Avoid washing these items in the kitchen sink or bathtubs to prevent cross-contamination. In households where there is no alternative, the sink area should be adequately sanitized after these items have been cleaned and removed.
- Do not use the pet’s feeding bowl as a scooping utensil – use a clean, dedicated scoop, spoon, or cup.
- Pet food should not be handled or stored in areas where food for humans is prepared.
- If possible, store dry pet food in its original bag inside a clean, dedicated plastic container with a lid, keeping the top of the bag folded or closed.
- Promptly refrigerate or discard unused, leftover wet pet food and containers (e.g., cans, pouches). Refrigerating foods quickly prevents the growth of most harmful bacteria.
- Dry pet food and pet treats should be stored in a cool, dry place under 80 degrees F.
- Children younger than 5 years of age should not be allowed to touch or eat pet food, treats, or supplements and should be kept away from pet feeding areas. Young children are especially at risk for illness because their immune systems are still developing and because they are more likely than others to put their fingers or other items into their mouths.
Remember, washing your hands is the most important step to prevent many types of illness. Well, I just filled up Brutus’ food bowl, better go wash my hands!
Come on, boy, lets go!!
Roger Miller, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University