It seems that commercially prepared raw food for pets – dogs and cats – is of poor quality because the standards required in preparing this food is lower than that required for preparing human grade food.
The lower standard results in commercially prepared raw pet foods containing a variety of pathogens which are hazardous to pet health.
However, the study which came to this conclusion is based on a small sample size and it was carried out in the Netherlands – Paul Overgaauw at Utrecht University. The Dutch set high standards so I’d expect the study to have validity but the products that they tested may have been manufactured to lower standards than those demanded in the USA or UK.
However, they tested 35 raw (but frozen) meat-based pet food products available in the Netherlands.
Fifteen products (43%) contained ‘other’ Listeria, 28 products (80%) contained Listeria moncytogenes, eight (23%) contained Escherichia coli (E coli) and seven (20%) contained Salmonella. Further, eight products (22%) contained two types Sarcocystis (a parasite) and two (6%) contained Toxoplasma gondii. Potential zoonotic pathogens where present in the products.
So, with regret, is has to be reported that raw pet food available in the Netherlands is often tainted with pathogens. The research team say:
“Feeding of freshly prepared, non-frozen raw meat based-diets to companion animals can not only result in infection and disease in the animals, but also poses a risk to public health and livestock farming through shedding of pathogens into the environment.”
They gently suggest that buying human grade raw foods and making your own raw pet food is safer. I’d would odd that you have to make sure that you know how to handle and store raw foods to avoid bacterial contamination.
They make another observation. Preservatives in raw pet foods may not be labelled correctly. They suggest that they may be toxic to cats and dogs.
The issue here though is whether these scientists are being unbiased. Were they funded by a large pet food manufacturer? They could well be. In fact I’d expect it. They say that ‘parts of this study’ were funded by a foundation but where did the rest of the money come from?
These large pet food manufacturing companies do all they can to keep cats and dogs on their commercial diets which are often less than ideal.
I agree that there is a need for a full-blown scientific study on the benefits and quality of raw pet foods. However, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that it is beneficial to cat and dog health with specific reference to illnesses associated with the gut and digestion.
I have a page on raw food diets for cats and it is mainly about home prepared foods. I am a fan of raw food diets by the way. I think they should be used far more often.
The information comes from the study: Zoonotic bacteria and parasites found in raw meat-based diets for cats and dogs. Only the summary is available without charge.