(NaturalNews) The most recent pet food recall from Mars Pet Care - due to salmonella contamination - appears to be becoming habit. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Mars Pet Care products have been having Salmonella problems for several years. Two years in a row, the same pet food plant has been known to cause Salmonella outbreaks. The CDC linked 62 cases of Salmonella infections from January 1, 2006 through September 4, 2007 to the Mars Pet Care plant. And now it has started all over again. What can petsumers do to protect their family?
On August 21, 2007 (last year) Mars Pet Care US announced a voluntary recall of two brands of dog food; Red Flannel Large Breed Adult and Krasdale Gravy due to salmonella contamination. Per the CDC, the Mars Pet Care pet food plant in Everson Pennsylvania suspended operations for cleaning and disinfection from July 26, 2007 to mid November 2007. Almost a year to the day the Mars pet food plant closed last year, and eight months after it reopened, the plant shut down again due to Salmonella contamination on July 29, 2008. On September 12, 2008 the company announced another recall of over 100 different brands and sizes of dog food and cat food due to potential salmonella contamination.
Before we look at a possible explanation as to why a pet food plant would shut down operations twice in 12 months and 3 days, here are the yucky facts: Salmonella bacteria lives in the intestines of many animals such as cows and chickens. People get Salmonella infection by ingesting these germs; usually by eating or drinking contaminated food or water but also by putting objects or fingers contaminated with the germs into their mouth.
According to AAFCO regulations, pet food manufacturers should utilize proper "clean-out procedures" in between batches of pet foods to "minimize the potential for cross-contamination that may endanger animal or human health." As an example, when one pet food batch is completed, before the next batch is processed, all the equipment involved should be properly cleaned and disinfected. If the first batch contained a contaminated or adulterated ingredient, some of that contaminate could remain on the equipment and infect the second batch. Since twelve different brands of pet food were recalled, pet owners can assume that the Mars pet food plant did not properly clean-out the equipment.
Or, giving the Mars Pet Care plant the benefit of the doubt, could the source of the Salmonella be from a common ingredient that is included in all of these pet foods? The Mars Pet Care website does not provide ingredient information on any of the pet foods except for Pedigree Dog Food – so finding common ingredients in the pet foods was challenging. Of the twelve different brands recalled I managed to find the ingredient listing of four different brands; Members Mark Pet Foods, Ol' Roy Pet Foods, Pedigree Pet Foods, and Special Kitty Pet Foods. The common ingredients found in each of these different brands of pet food that could possibly be a cause of salmonella infections are 'chicken by-product meal' and 'animal fat'. Could these ingredients be the source of the Salmonella contamination?
Chicken by-product meal consists of the rendered (cooked) left-over ingredients from the processing of human foods. Pieces of chicken carcass such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, and intestines all become part of this pet food ingredient. Animal fat is another product of rendering; the fat that rises to the top from the cooking process of all different types of animal parts (including euthanized animals) becomes the pet food ingredient animal fat. Both of these pet food ingredients can contain intestines, and remember, salmonella lives in the intestines. So, are these pet food ingredients the source of the Salmonella problem? There are no reports that could lead us to know for sure.
So now what? With the risk of salmonella infections everywhere (pet food, lettuce, spinach, peppers recently), what can pet owners…and even non-pet owners do to protect themselves and their pets? The FDA has begun allowing irradiation of lettuce and spinach to prevent salmonella and e-coli infections. Many health experts feel this is going in the extreme wrong direction. It's horrible to think that pet food might someday include a bonus ingredient of radiation to prevent salmonella (by the way, I've seen some dog chews that use radiation for this purpose).
A possible healthier solution could be electrolyzed water (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/08...). Science Daily reported that research has shown that electrolyzed water "produced by applying an electrical current to a very dilute saltwater solutions kills bacteria on fresh produce more effectively in some cases than heat or water containing chlorine." Research has also proven positive for safe killing of bacteria in food processing equipment (maybe Mars Pet Care should research this?). The Japanese have been researching the effects of electrolyzed water for many years and also claim there are many health benefits to its use. Sanyo has produced several electrolyzed water products, all backed by research proving electrolyzed water kills many bacteria's including Salmonella, E coli, and even Avian flu. Some research shows electrolyzed water can degrade aflatoxin, which is a deadly mold that commonly grows on grain and is a constant concern in the pet food and pet treat industry. This isn't speculation, there is research dating back to the 1950's on how effective electrolyzed water is when used to destroy bacteria. Wouldn't it be money well spent to invest in electrolyzed water systems instead of the billions of dollars it cost the tomato industry (as just one example) when tomatoes were suspect earlier this year?
From RapidMicrobiology.com: "The economic cost of Salmonella infections in the United States is estimated at $3 billion. Denmark has taken active steps to not only monitor but also control Salmonella. A study shows that in 2001 a control program costing US $14 million saved Denmark US $25 million by controlling Salmonella." Now, more important to pet owners, what can you do to protect yourself and your pet from pet foods contaminated with Salmonella? Is there an electrolyzed water system for people and pets? Well, sort of. But just in case you still have an ounce of trust in the FDA, here is their webpage with explicit instructions on hand washing to prevent Salmonella infections: http://www.fda.gov/consumer/updates/petfoodt....
What…drink electrolyzed water? If you do a Google search for Electrolyzed Water you will find a slew of information – mostly all positive information backed by research. Some of the research is directed towards the health promoting capabilities of electrolyzed water; which again, the Japanese have been studying for years. One of the health benefits reported from drinking electrolyzed water shows it helps to remove "acidosis from the body". "Acid wastes build up in the body in the form of cholesterol, gallstones, kidney stones, arterial plaque, urates, phosphates and sulfates. These acidic waste products are the direct cause of premature aging and the onset of chronic disease." http://glowing-health.com/alkaline-water/aci...
For many pet owners (cat and dog owners whose pets are prone to kidney/UT problems pay close attention here), a key to potential better pet care from electrolyzed water would be the removal of acid waste from our pets – a sort of natural maintenance program aiming to prevent mineral buildup, kidney/bladder stones and blockage. This is NOT A TREATMENT – only – maybe – a preventative. To date – unfortunately – there is no research for pet owners to prove how beneficial the water can actually be to our pets. And even if there was, the FDA would probably then determine that the electrolyzed water is a drug and then stop it from being used. In the meantime, here is a website that cites many different human clinical studies on the benefits of electrolyzed water: http://glowing-health.com/ionized-water-clin... After you read these, you will probably be interested in drinking electrolyzed water yourself! Here is one more bit of information you might want to read. A US chicken production company has recently installed an electrolyzed water system to prevent bacteria in a natural way. This is the Reuters announcement: http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/...
A home supply of electrolyzed water could be sprayed on fresh fruits and vegetables – as opposed to radiation – to kill Salmonella and E coli bacteria. It could be sprayed on chicken, eggs, and even pet food to prevent Salmonella contamination from spreading. We could clean counter tops, cutting boards and knives without the use of chemicals. A non-toxic, environmentally friendly, research proven safe and effective method to control bacteria; and that is not even considering the reported health benefits. Electrolyzed water sounds like a win/win. The links above for home electrolyzed water products were the best value I found on the Internet. I had a lengthy conversation with the company owner and have already ordered the products for myself and my furry family.
Wishing you and your pets the best,
About the author
Susan Thixton has an international pet people following providing dog and cat lovers a trusted source for pet food and pet food ingredient information. She's been called courageous, perseverant, even "the Caped Crusader for Pets" for her 16 year study of pet food. Susan Thixton is the author of hundreds of pet industry articles and the 2006 released book Truth About Pet Food (currently being updated for a second edition). She developed and publishes the pet product consumer magazine Petsumer Report and is a frequent speaker and radio guest all over the U.S. and Canada with more than 70 appearances in the last 2 years. If you are looking for straight forward pet food information that can have an almost immediate impact on your pet's health - subscribe to the free newsletter, and subscribe to Petsumer Report to see reviews of close to 700 dog and cat foods and treats (adding 40+ each month). Susan Thixton's 'truth' will help you find a safer, healthier dog or cat food that could add years to your pet's life. http://www.TruthAboutPetFood.com