Aug
15
2012

Feeding a raw protein diet can endanger the health of both people and animals, according to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).

AAHA plans to release a position statement discouraging pet owners from feeding raw protein diets later this week.

The second major veterinary group to take a stand on raw protein diets in recent weeks, AAHA says it is doing so because it wants to strengthen the valued relationship between human and animal.

"We value the relationships between our pets and their families – we want to strengthen the human-animal bond by keeping both pets and people as healthy as possible," said Michael Cavanaugh, DVM, executive director of AAHA.

AAHA joins the likes of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), which passed a policy discouraging the feeding of raw protein diets at its yearly conference in San Diego in early August 2012.

AAHA leaders say its statement on raw protein diets was actually developed and passed by its board of directors prior to the AVMA policy. According to AAHA, the statement was developed without any input or knowledge from the AVMA.

The text of the AAHA statement emphasizes the danger of feeding pathogenic organisms to animals that may then shed those organisms through their stool, creating danger for both humans and animals that may come in contact with it.

"Homemade raw food diets are unsafe because retail meats for human consumption can be contaminated with pathogens," the statement reads. "Studies that have been done on both commercially available and homemade raw protein diets have found a high percentage (30–50%) of them contaminated with pathogenic organisms, and up to 30% of the dogs fed such diets may shed pathogenic organisms in their stool. Many of the pathogens found in raw protein diets can be transmitted to the human population by contact with the food itself, pet or environmental surfaces. A disturbing number of these organisms have also been shown to be resistant to multiple antimicrobials."

After publicizing its own raw diet policy, the AVMA received a flurry of online comments and discussion from consumers attacking the organization for its stance on the controversial topic. Many consumers have questioned the prudence of feeding commercial kibble in light of recalled dog foods that have sickened animals and humans alike.

On the website Thetruthaboutpetfood.com, author Susan Thixton supported raw protein diets, arguing that raw pet food isn’t any more dangerous than a visit to the meat department of the local grocery store.

"…All meat is dangerous. We, pet owners…take a risk each time you pick up a package of ground beef or chicken legs at the grocery. Raw pet food is NO more dangerous than any trip to the meat department of any grocery across the country," Thixton wrote. "However, there is one significant difference…most all pet owners that feed a raw meat pet food are fully aware of the risk. They are educated pet food consumers and they understand the need to handle the food properly. Perhaps this is reason why there has never been an incident of human illness linked to a raw meat pet food."

AAHA says its statement rests on scientific evidence revealing raw food diets to be a threat to other animals and humans.

"Past proponents of raw food diets believed that this was the healthiest food choice for pets," the statement reads. "It was also assumed that feeding such a diet would cause no harm to other animals or to humans. There have subsequently been multiple studies showing both these premises to be false. Based on overwhelming scientific evidence, AAHA does not advocate or endorse feeding pets any raw or dehydrated nonsterilized foods, including treats that are of animal origin."

The AAHA statement is based on over 50 different scientific citations.

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) and the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV) have both announced their support for the AAHA statement with official endorsements.

"The National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians strongly supports, affirms, and endorses the 2012 position statement by the American Animal Hospital Association regarding raw protein diets," the NASPHV wrote in support of the AAHA statement. "Raw protein diets are a public health concerns because the pathogens can be transmitted to humans via contact with the food itself, the animal, or contaminated surfaces."

Comments (24) -

Guest
GuestUnited States
8/16/2012 7:34:00 AM #

Please note that the AVMA resolution does NOT discourage the feeding of raw diets.  It clearly discourages the feeding of raw diets that *contain pathogens*.  

The top 5 manufacturers of raw diets (as well as some other companies not within the top 5) - who account for 75% of the marketplace sales - all have, and have had for some years - advanced pathogen controls in place.  They also have "test and hold" programs in place as well (all batches are tested and held from distribution until negative pathogen results are returned) .

These pathogen-free diets are fully acceptable to the AVMA and should be to AAHA as well.  AAHA has a responsibility to accurately portray the market place, not spread misinformation, and not create hysteria.  Therefore, it is important that any statements issued by AAHA accurately highlight and specify the differences between pathogen-treated raw diets and raw diets that may contain pathogens.

We look forward to seeing responsi

Guest
GuestUnited States
8/16/2012 7:41:00 AM #

(continued from prior comment that was apparently truncated)

We look forward to seeing responsible revisions in the wording of your final statement.

We would also like to work with AAHA to help you better understand the facts and the myths of the industry.  An open and informed relationship between our industry and yours will better serve all stakeholders.

Melinda Miller
President
North American Raw Petfood Association Inc.
serving the raw diet industry since 2005
info@rawpetfood.org

Guest
GuestUnited States
8/17/2012 6:04:00 AM #

If your goal is "...strengthen the human-animal bond by keeping both pets and people as healthy as possible" I feel the focus is a bit misplaced.  The % of dog owners that feed raw is likely very low compared to kibble.  However, the % of dog owners that feed poor quality dog food (with extremely high amounts of corn, carbs for examples) is pretty high.  Why doesnt the AAHA and AVMA put out statements recommending why types of kibble (ingredients not brands) for owners to feed their dogs?  Surely, if your goal is to have healthy pets (which are not obese) you would focus on something like this which would have a much larger impact to the pets and their families as a whole.    Regards, Clay Bunyard

Guest
GuestUnited States
8/17/2012 9:02:00 AM #

You people are full of crap!     Rendered meat and garbage in commercial pet food and treats from China is OK?    Who is lining your pockets?   Why dont you check the pathogens that come out of your poop!      

Guest
GuestUnited States
8/17/2012 9:52:00 AM #

Historically, the threat to human health has come from kibble contaminated with pathogenic bacteria. Science based evidence clearly points to risks associated with kibble pet food diets.    As physicians, you should understand the importance of evaluating a diet based on balanced science, and included in your policy the evidence that kibbled pet food is as likely to be contaminated with foodborne pathogens as any raw meat on the market, whether for human or animal consumption.   One of the worst outbreaks of foodborne illness in recent history was directly associated with contaminated kibbled pet food.  The CDC has recognized the risk associated with kibble diets, so why have not the AVMA, AAHA, AAFP, and NASPHV.   Based on scientific evidence a balanced policy would include a statement that "feeding a kibble diet can endanger the health of both people and animals", therefore it would "discouraging the feeding of kibble diets".    In addition, it would "emphasizes the danger of feeding

Guest
GuestUnited States
8/17/2012 9:52:00 AM #

My family has been feeding our pets (dogs and cats) raw diets for 15 years. One of our kitties came to us with irritable bowel syndrome which cleared up after being put on a raw diet. No one in our family, children, adults, or animals have been sickened by our feeding practices.

Guest
GuestUnited States
8/17/2012 9:58:00 AM #

Historically, the threat to human health has come from kibble contaminated with pathogenic bacteria. Science based evidence clearly points to risks associated with kibble pet food diets.     As physicians, you should understand the importance of evaluating a diet based on balanced science, and included in your policy the evidence that kibbled pet food is as likely to be contaminated with foodborne pathogens as any raw meat on the market, whether for human or animal consumption.    One of the worst outbreaks of foodborne illness in recent history was directly associated with contaminated kibbled pet food.  The CDC has recognized the risk associated with kibble diets, so why have not the AVMA, AAHA, AAFP, and NASPHV.    Based on scientific evidence a balanced policy would include a statement that "feeding a kibble diet can endanger the health of both people and animals", therefore it would "discouraging the feeding of kibble diets".  In addition, it would "emphasizes the danger of feedin

Guest
GuestUnited States
8/17/2012 10:00:00 AM #

Animals have been eating raw food for their meals for the entire history of the world with the exception of the last 100 years. The studies that say raw food is both unsafe and unhealthy for carnivore captive animals and the scientific citations are based on what? Studied funded by big pet food?  I am disgusted to see that the AAHA has taken stance with the AVMA. Now we know clearly and without a doubt that veterenarians, pet food companies and their standardizing agencies can absolutely NOT be trusted.  Those of us with some sanity and some critical thinking skills who have no ties or needs to be a part of pet food politics for big money will continue to pass the truth out.  Raw pet food with balanced nutrition is the best food for cats and dogs, period.  

Guest
GuestUnited States
8/17/2012 10:16:00 AM #

Show us your studies and then show us how many people have been contamined over the years from kibble filled with pathogens!!

In the recent recall alone, there have been many. Why dont you spend your time recommending the correct ingredients and not kibble filled with unuseful grains, by-products and fillers along with "meat-meal" and the dreaded 4Ds. If you are really concerned about pet owners and their relationships with their animals seems you would do this versus provide info about the harm of feeding RAW.

I have been feeding RAW for over 10 years and my rescued Golden girl would not be here if it were not for RAW amongst other things. Weve been through Cancer and a whole other host of things, yet with great nutrition and vets who support our diet, my girl is thriving. How can you dispute that?

Who did you sell out to AAHA? Why dont you and the AVMA teaching your new and upcoming students who have passion about their profession more about nutri

Guest
GuestUnited States
8/17/2012 10:55:00 AM #

So next people shouldnt prepare their own food in their own kitchen?  What about fecal/oral contamination when they go to the bathroom?  How are we going to regulate that?  Who is going to be there to hand me the rubber glove so I can wipe my own back side?

This is ridiculous.  The argument isnt even a good one, studies or not.  So, do they make the kibble from other kibble, or is there inherent risk to factory workers at pet food manufacturing companies that is different from those of us who handle raw foods?  Do they hire exceptionally well trained microbiologists to manufacture pet food so no one takes the risk of wiping their nose or mouth with a hand that might have been exposed during work?

Veterinarians are not the ones making these statements.  Someone with a vested interest in manufactured pet food has a large hand in this.  Even for people food, there is always a "warning" at the bottom of the menu about eating undercooked meat, but I order mine bloody

Guest
GuestUnited States
8/17/2012 10:59:00 AM #

Its called soap and water...wash your hands..people have been doing it for centuries.

Guest
GuestUnited States
8/17/2012 1:49:00 PM #

Follow the money trail. If you research the key players in the AVMA anti-raw advisory you will find Purina behind it.   The last paragraph of the following quote is very incriminating for AAHA as well "... guidelines, made available through an educational grant from Hill’s Pet Nutrition..."   Obviously funding by BIG-Kibble companies has more influence than the truth!    The quote: (notice the last paragraph):  “Incorporating nutritional assessment into the routine examination protocol for every patient is important for maintaining optimal health, as well as their response to disease and injury,” said Michael Cavanaugh, DVM, Dipl. ABVP, executive director of AAHA.  “The goal of the new guidelines is to provide a framework for the veterinary practice team to help make nutritional assessments and recommendations for their patients.”  The guidelines, made available through an educational grant from Hill’s Pet Nutrition, are available at AAHAnet.org.

Guest
GuestUnited States
8/17/2012 1:57:00 PM #

Oh for Gods sake....just admit it...youre bowing out to Big Business...after all, who profits from HEALTHY pets? Not the vets, and certainly not the outrageously expensive prescription diet manufacturers. WE SEE RIGHT THROUGH YOU...SO STOP LYING.

Guest
GuestUnited States
8/17/2012 3:40:00 PM #

So as I finish reading this load of crap, I look to the top of the page and see an advert on a new way to manage hyperthyroidism in cats, by none other than Hills. Seriously, these big companies should be ashamed of themselves. Endangering the health and lives of our pets to ensure their products are still seen as the best nutrition. I dont know how you sleep at night, but I bet its in massive mansions. Shame on you. If only the masses of people would learn to see through these veiled attempts to protect them and their pets. They are obviously there to protect profits.

Guest
GuestUnited States
8/19/2012 8:12:00 AM #

The blog post just above this one....WAS FOR KIBBLE!!    And contact with KIBBLE!!!  Can you not see how freaking ridiculous you look?  Talk about ingnorance and arrogance!!  You are risking our pets lives, health, and our respect.  

Guest
GuestUnited States
8/19/2012 8:28:00 AM #

1.dishonesty for personal gain (bing)   Is it dishonest that pathogens are present in raw diets?  No, not at all.  In fact pathogens can be found on any and all surfaces, foods, hands, feet, stool etc.    What is dishonest is the level of histeria with which these statements are forth coming about.  Demanding "pathogen free" food?  Really?  Is that a real standard?   cause Ill start starving my dog right now.  There is no such thing as pathogen free food, even for human consumption.    

Guest
GuestUnited States
8/19/2012 11:11:00 PM #

What does AAHA, AVMA and kibble have in common.  Answer: Full of crap Smile

Guest
GuestUnited States
8/21/2012 5:04:00 AM #

We need a new organization for holistic vets. Ive lost all respect for the AAHA and AVMA. Luckily I have a holistic vet who feeds raw - even sells it. The above mentioned are simply running scared. Theyre really getting desperate as more people become educated about the dangers of commercial pet foods, over vaccination, and continued use of pesticides and other pharmaceutical drugs. Stay educated people and dont let big corporations bully you into destroying your pets health.

Guest
GuestUnited States
8/21/2012 6:38:00 AM #

I have been RAW feeding my PACK of Aussies for OVER 14 YEARS with NO problems of bacteria.  But, gee,  I remember to wash my hands with plain soap and hot water.  Stop treating Americans like were STUPID.  Common sense tells "educated" dog/cats owners that RAW is BEST...NOT Krapple that you push.  And how about all the Krapple RECALLS and deaths over the past few years?  DUH

Guest
GuestUnited States
8/21/2012 12:10:00 PM #

"from consumers attacking the organization for its stance ,"  if they felt attacked maybe it was because their stance is wrong.  Maybe it is because we see right through their faux concerns.    Most likely though it is because the AVMA put their noses in the air, even after it was pointed out that 4 of the 6 studies found NO TRANSMISSION to the human chain.    Uh?  Go figure they are even misquoting their cited works.      If stating fact from the fiction you are pushing is attacking your organization....then that tells me you have betrayed the very pet owners and animals you claim to protect.  

Guest
GuestUnited States
8/21/2012 11:26:00 PM #

"We value the relationships between our pets and their families – we want to strengthen the human-animal bond by keeping both pets and people as healthy as possible," Do you really have absolutely no sense of shame to write something as ludicrous as the above? I mean….   Because reality check – the crappy food that is being sold by the people that are apparently behind this not so funny joke IS precisely the food that is making our pets sick. The foods sold by these Companies, or these Premium foods that are so well marketed on our shelves, are killing our pets – with obesity, diabetes, crystals, kidney disease, cancer, IBD, and yes, pathogens – ha! Raw is bringing back to health many pets that were doing poorly on your so called safe diets.  And you do this? You issue these irresponsible money driven policies lightly to sell another bag of crappy food? Give me a freaking break! Studies? What Studies! Show us the Studies! Don’t underestimate the intelligence of raw-feeders – if there i

Guest
GuestUnited States
8/21/2012 11:30:00 PM #

(Continued from below) Don’t underestimate the intelligence of raw-feeders – if there is one thing we are, is educated. Making blank statements saying that they are based on “overwhelming scientific evidence” is quite curious, when studies on feeding raw food are pretty much non-existing.  Raw feeding saved my cat’s life when no medicine, no other diet, including several brand of OTC and prescription wouldn’t. Don’t YOU tell me know that it is not safe for him or me. My cats have never been so healthy, and my vets agree – This is just as pathetic as it gets.

Guest
GuestUnited States
8/25/2012 9:20:00 AM #

Really? Who owns the AAHA?

Kathy
KathyUnited States
2/7/2014 4:48:33 PM #

I find it fascinating that providers of food for livestock and pets spend thousands upon thousands of dollars researching what the best nutrition is for each particular species, using the resources of hundreds of extreemly well-educated scientists and researchers, and yet some people believe that they are smarter than all of the research!  Many of the major manufacturers provide free food for our shelters, grants and other funding for our rescues, and sponsorship of agility trials, obediance and conformation, etc - in other words they give back TONS to the community in the way of support.  Yet these few people who believe in barf still think they know better.  People never cease to amaze me in showing their own ignorance.

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