No. 3 — The Goal Is to Eliminate the Fresh, Raw Pet Food Market
The FDA is pressuring fresh, raw pet food companies to sterilize their products to protect pet parents from pathogens. Sterilization can be done via cooking, pasteurizing or by using chemicals. If the FDA were to mandate sterilization of raw pet foods, these diets would no longer be "raw," thus ensuring truly raw pet foods are eliminated from the market (which also ensures profits for processed food manufacturers).
However, products that need to be sterilized often come from factory farming10 or other low-quality sourcing.11 Whether it's fresh produce or animal products, mass production is a dirty, dirty process that sterilization only "Band-Aids."
While cooking, chemicals or pasteurization can eliminate pathogens so a product may test as "safe" as it leaves the manufacturing facility, it also eliminates good, competitive bacteria that work as a protective mechanism after the product is packaged and shipped. Beneficial, natural bacteria can defend against your pet's food becoming a petri dish of pathogens while in transit and/or after you get it home.
How safe is unpasteurized, raw food? FDA recall statistics show that fully raw commercially available pet foods are 64 times less likely to experience a recall than kibble, while high-pressure pasteurized frozen foods are 1.5 times more likely than kibble to experience a recall. This proves that pasteurization doesn't solve sourcing problems.12
No. 4 — Salmonella in Pet Food Is Found Primarily in Kibble
The FDA continues to disregard published scientific data that proves that a 99 percent moisture product13 would only have to be heated for five minutes at 140 degrees F to kill all salmonella, while a product that is 10 percent moisture (e.g., kibble) would have to be heated for several hours at the same temperature or higher to kill pathogens.
Kibble products are, on average, heated at slightly over 200 degrees F for two to seven minutes in the extrusion or baking process, which is about 40 times less duration than is necessary to eliminate pathogens, especially if the ingredients are from factory farmed animals or other low-quality sources. Despite this, the FDA claims that the risk of pathogenic contamination is higher in raw foods.
Also, the only instances in which humans have ever gotten sick from handling pet foods involved kibble products (low moisture content, e.g., Diamond Pet Foods in 2007,14 Mars Petcare in 200815 and Diamond Pet Foods in 201216). A total of 190 people were infected with salmonella by handling dry kibble pet foods.
Further, a study published in 1972 noted that "dried dog foods were incriminated as the source of salmonella infections among colonies of laboratory animals as early as 1952,"17 so the FDA has been aware of this connection for nearly seven decades.
And last, the FDA claims that all serovars of salmonella pathogens are poisonous and dangerous to pets and people. However, of the 2,500+ strains in existence, the CDC lists only 1,023 as having ever been found in humans, and of those only 15 are considered concerning.18 However, raw pet food producers will be told to recall even if the strain of pathogen is not known to have ever caused illness in pets or humans.
FDA volunteer research studies have proven infective doses of salmonella to be fairly high in most cases.19 However, raw pet food companies are told to recall products even if State Departments and the FDA have not quantified the product to see if it contains infective doses of pathogens.
To make matters worse, current testing methods are unable to consistently differentiate between live and dead salmonella cells.20 So a product that only contains dead, nonviable and fully safe pathogens could still be subject to recall by the FDA.
- 10 One Green Planet (factory farming is unclean)
- 11 Wikipedia (mechanically separated meats are unclean)
- 12 Hero's Pets (FDA recall statistics, summarized)
- 13 FDA.gov (cooking does not kill salmonella)
- 17 Salmonella in Domestic Animals, C. Wray & A. Wray, CABI Publishing, May 2000
- 18 CDC.gov (complete list of salmonella serovars 2006-2014)
- 19 Journal of Food Safety, April 3, 2007 (infective doses of salmonella in humans)
- 20 Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2007 May; 73(10): 3283-3290 (salmonella tests don’t differentiate between live and dead cells)