Pet Food Could Make Your Kids Sick (Even if They Don't Eat It)

Julie Ryan Evans
4

baby eating dog foodIf you have a dog and toddler, you've probably seen them share food more than once -- both from the table and from Spot's bowl. And while it's gross to think about your kid chomping on some Kibbles 'n Bits, it's never really been cause for concern ... until now.

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) details the first salmonella outbreak in humans that has been linked to dry pet food.

Between 2006 and 2008, 79 cases of salmonella were linked to contamination from dry pet food. Not surprisingly, at least half were in small children.

"This outbreak really raises concerns for us that dry pet foods might be an unrecognized source of illness, especially for children," Casey Barton Behravesh of the CDC told LiveScience.

But it's not eating the dog food that's making children sick ...

In fact, eating it doesn't actually seem to increase the risk for salmonella. It's other things, like touching the food to feed Fido or playing with it on the floor and then touching one's nose or mouth, that seem to carry the most risk, according to the study.

They found the risk rose fourfold if the pets ate in the kitchen.

"It looks as though the children were around the food bowl, handled it, played with it, maybe played with the water in the water bowl and it was that kind of association that led to the transmission of salmonella," Dr. William Schaffner told ABC News. "It would appear that the little children didn't eat the pet food, but I would question what parent would admit to that in a questionnaire."

The CDC recommends the following when it comes to handling pet food:

  • Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap right after handling dry pet foods and treats.
  • Wash hands before preparing food and before eating.
  • Keep infants away from pet feeding areas. Do not allow them to touch or eat dog food.

Another pet food warning from the FDA this week cautions that children under 5 shouldn't handle dead, frozen rodents that are used to feed reptiles or the reptiles themselves. They also pose a risk of salmonella.

Who knew feeding a pet could be so dangerous?

Does your pet eat in the kitchen and what steps do you/will you take to keep your children away from their food?


Image via  Robert S. Donovan/Flickr

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