Grain Free, Raw Meat Diet?
Grain-free, raw meat diets are hugely popular with pet owners who like the idea of feeding their cats and dogs a diet that’s closer to what their ancestor ate in the wilds.
The problem is, there’s no hard, scientific evidence that raw meat–based diets (RMBDs) are any healthier than traditional dry or canned pet foods. According to clinical veterinary nutritionists at Tufts University, https://vet.tufts.edu/ grain-free foods are one of the fastest-growing segments of the pet food market. They’re often marketed as being more natural (read: healthier) for pets than grain-based diets. But, while sometimes disparaged as “fillers,” the opposite is true:
· whole grains can be a source of valuable nutrients to pets’ diets, including vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and fiber.
· “by products” do not include any part of an animal that we would not want to eat. They are a pure protein source
Now, new research published this month in Vet Record shows that RMBDs could actually pose a health threat to both pets and humans.
What they found is enough to make you sick. Literally:
· They found potentially deadly E. coli bacteria in 28 products, or 80% of all the pet foods tested. More worrisome, they found E. coli 0157:H7 in 8 products, or 23% of the total. 0157:H7 is a particularly virulent strain of E. coli responsible for an infectious outbreak that’s killed two people and hospitalized more than 50 in the United States and Canada over the past seven weeks. In those cases, contaminated romaine lettuce rather than meat is believed to be the culprit.
· Listeria monocytogenes was present in 19 products, or 54%, and other listeria species were found in 15, or 43%. Researchers wrote that the results of the study clearly demonstrate the presence of potential zoonotic pathogens in frozen RMBDs that may be a source of bacterial infections in pet animals and, if transmitted, pose a risk for human beings.
Of course, it’s not just handling raw pet food that can make people sick—people should thoroughly wash their hands after handling any kind of raw meat, including the meat they buy to feed their families.