New Study Focuses on Potential Dangers of Raw Meat Diets
Today’s world presents an interesting synergy as pet owners continually treat their dogs as extensions of the family but still try to keep them nutritionally connected to their primitive roots. For many, the best way to emulate those ancestral diets is by feeding dogs raw meat-based food, akin to what they’d forage in the wild. The market’s been flooded with raw food products as a result, but it seems this trend is serving up some apprehension.
A recent study published in the Royal Society centers on the concern that commercially available raw meat-based food could be dangerous for both dogs and their owners. The research was conducted by the Vetsuisse Faculty at the University of Zurich in Switzerland and centered around the fact that raw-based diets are not exposed to any sort of heat treatment before being frozen, meaning that the meat’s potentially harmful bacteria doesn’t have the chance of being cooked out.
To test the theory, the research team collected and analyzed samples of 51 different raw meat dog food products. All products contained either cattle beef, chicken, horse, lamb, turkey, rabbit, salmon, deer, duck, moose, ostrich, fish, quail or reindeer, with 31 one of those samples containing meat imported from Switzerland and the other 20 containing meat that originated in Germany.
The study revealed that 72.5 percent of the food analyzed did not meet the European Union’s (EU) hygiene criteria regarding the microbiological standards for enterobacteriaceae. Further, salmonella was found in 3.9 percent of the samples, antimicrobial resistant (AMR) bacteria was found in 62.7 percent of the samples—with 27.5 percent containing more than one distinct AMR isolate—and E. coli was found in 3.9 percent of the samples.
At this time, there is no evidence that people feeding raw food should start to worry. The study was conducted in Europe and compared against EU standards with a (very) small group of products that featured only Swiss and German meats. The report itself even concludes with, “The current lack of comparative data from other countries and the low sample size in our study prevent a conclusive evaluation of the microbiological quality of [raw meat-based diets].”