The Utrecht University researchers led by Paul Overgaauw tested 35 raw meat products from eight different brands widely available in the Netherlands and found that 23% of the products contained E-coli, while 80% contained an antibiotic-resistant strain of the bacteria. Toxoplasma gondii, the bacteria responsible for toxoplasmosis, was found in 6% of the diets.
"T$3 he claimed health benefits attributed to the feeding of raw meat-based diets are mostly anecdotal, and no studies have produced results in support of these statements", the team writes in the study.
Researchers in the Netherlands have analysed a range of raw meat-based diet products and concluded that the risks of contamination are super-high, even if the pet owners swear by the virtues of such a diet.
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Giving them the reason to ditch dry and canned pet foods and feed their pets raw meat-based diets (RMBDs).
What's more, a pet's raw diet may put humans at risk for these infections, too.
The foods contained raw meat, bones, and animal by-products from beef, duck, chicken, lamb, and horse, along with additional ingredients.
It said the pathogens can be transferred "through direct contact with the food; through contact with a contaminated pet, such as sharing the same bed and allowing licking of the face and hands; through contact with household surfaces; or by ingesting cross-contaminated human food". Even more worrisome, E. coli 0157-a particularly unsafe strain now responsible for a lettuce-based outbreak in North America-was found in 23% of the samples.
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This is important, researchers say, because the bacteria and parasitic pathogens found in the food may possibly be a source of infection in pets, which may also become a risk for humans.
"Feeding of freshly prepared, non-frozen raw meat based-diets to companion animals cannot 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", the researchers conclude. The food also carries a number of bacteria that could infect dogs and spread to their owners. That can have further implications for pet owners and for public health in general. They should be educated about proper handling of the products and personal hygiene measures, and the products should include warnings and handling instructions, the investigators said.
Caroline Kisko, the organisation's secretary, said: "We would recommend that dog owners speak to their vet about which option might be best for their individual dog, particularly if they have concerns over a product".
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