August 10, 2007: Pennsylvania Salmonella Infections may be Linked to Dry Dog Food

The Pennsylvania Department of Health issued a press release warning consumers of a possible connection between dry dog food and 21 cases of Salmonella infection. The release also listed steps that can be taken to prevent illness when purchasing and handling pet food products.

The outbreak, which has been ongoing since January 2006, was caused by an uncommon strain of Salmonella, known as Salmonella serotype Schwarzengrund.

Many of the infections have involved infants and children, and most have occurred in households with pets or where people have been in close contact with pets. It is not believed that individuals consumed any of the pet food.

Dr. Calvin B. Johnson, State Health Secretary, warned that, “While the department is working very closely with federal investigators to identify a specific cause and source for these illnesses, it is important that pet owners understand and follow steps to prevent Salmonella infection from occurring.”

He also recommends these simple precautions when handling pet food:

Buying Tips:

  • Purchase products (canned or bagged) with no visible signs of damage to the packaging, such as dents, tears, discolorations, etc.

Preparation Tips:

  • Preferably, people should feed their pet in areas other than the kitchen.
  • Begin with clean hands.
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds with hot water and soap before and after handling pet food and treats.
  • Wash pet food bowls, dishes and scooping utensils with soap and hot water after each use. The bowl or utensils used for pet food should not be washed in the kitchen sink. In households where there is no alternative, the sink area should be adequately sanitized after these items have been cleaned and removed.
  • Do not use the pet’s feeding bowl as a scooping utensil – use a clean, dedicated scoop, spoon or cup instead.
  • Dispose of old or spoiled pet food products in a safe manner (example: in a securely tied plastic bag in a covered trash receptacle).

Storage Tips:

  • Pet food should not be handled or stored in areas where food for humans is prepared. If this happens, it increases the potential for cross-contamination from pet food to foods being served to people.
  • Promptly refrigerate or discard unused, leftover wet pet food (cans, pouches, etc.). Refrigerating foods quickly prevents the growth of most harmful bacteria. Refrigerators should be set at 40 degrees F. The accuracy of the setting should be checked occasionally with a refrigerator thermometer.
  • Dry pet food and pet treats should be stored in a cool, dry place under 80 degrees F.
  • If possible, store dry pet food in its original bag inside a clean, dedicated plastic container with a lid, keeping the top of the bag folded closed.
  • Keep pets away from food storage and preparation areas.
  • Keep pets away from garbage and household trash.

Salmonellosis is an infection caused by a bacterium called Salmonella. Salmonella is one of the most common causes of foodborne illness. Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps within 12-72 hours after infection.

According to the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are an estimated 1.4 million cases of Salmonella food poisoning in the United States each year, with more than 500 of those cases resulting in death. The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to suffer severe illness.

The Law Firm of Eric H. Weinberg currently represents victims of recent Salmonella outbreaks involving Arby’s, Peter Pan Peanut Butter, Veggie Booty, and Taste of Chicago. If you or a loved one has been harmed by Salmonella food poisoning, and you have a question about your legal rights, please call us toll free at 1-877-934-6274 for a free case evaluation, or click on free case evaluation to submit your question. Please click on food poisoning lawyer to learn more about the Law Firm of Eric H. Weinberg. For more information about Salmonella and other types of food poisoning, visit the web page Salmonella food poisoning.

For information regarding recent food poisoning outbreaks and recalls, please see Salmonella Minnesota, Salmonella Milford Valley Farms, Salmonella Attorney, and Michigan E. coli Outbreak.