Handling Dog Treats Linked To Salmonella In Canada

Several cases of Salmonella poisoning in Canada were traced to human handling of pet treats with dried beef. Sixty-one such cases of Salmonella have been reported in Canada since 1998, with 21 infections reported in 2002.

Johann Pitout, a medical microbiologist with Calgary Laboratory Services, started researching the cases when he “recognized a strange susceptibility pattern among a Salmonella isolate…that was more resistant to various antibiotics than noticed before in Calgary,” he said. His research was published in the October 2003 Journal of Clinical Microbiology. For more information visit the journal website at http://jcm.asm.org.

In the US, several incidents of Salmonella poisoning have been linked to the handling of dog chews over the last three years. Nationally it’s estimated that Salmonella species are responsible for approximately 1.4 million illnesses and 600 deaths annually, according to Dr. Pitout’s research.

In 1999 and 2000 the US Food and Drug Administration issued recalls of different brands of dog chews. After publication of the Canada study, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a recall of Merrick Pet Treats.

To prevent Salmonella contamination, manufacturers must protect products from fecal material after they have been sterilized, said Dr. Pitout. Some manufacturers have started to irradiate pet treats in an attempt to decrease the chance of contracting the infection though Dr. Pitout advises all consumers to wash their hands thoroughly after touching pet treats with dried beef.