FDA alerts public after pet food tests positive for...

FDA alerts public after pet food tests positive for Salmonella

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UPDATED: Comments from producer added.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is cautioning pet owners not to feed their pets certain lots of Darwin’s Natural Pet Products raw cat food after samples from these lots tested positive for Salmonella. 

The FDA recommended that Arrow Reliance Inc. voluntarily recall these products and notify the public, but the company has not done so. 

There is a risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.

These foods have been associated with cases of illness in three kittens in a single household. 

The products are manufactured by Arrow Reliance Inc., doing business as Darwin’s Natural Pet Products, and are sold online direct to consumers.

Because these products are sold and stored frozen, the FDA is concerned that people may still have them in their possession and feed them to their pets. 

Products subject to alert:

  • Darwin’s Natural Pet Products Natural Selections Antibiotic & Grain Free Chicken Recipe for Cats, Lot 9116, manufactured on May 2, 2022.
  • Darwin’s Natural Pet Products Natural Selections Antibiotic & Grain Free Turkey Recipe for Cats, Lot 9121, manufactured on May 4, 2022.
  • The products are sold in white and clear plastic packages with blue and green labeling. Each pack weighs two pounds and consists of four separate units. The lot codes are on the front lower left unit of the package.

The FDA collected and analyzed unopened samples of products from these two lots after receiving a report of illness in three kittens in a single household that had consumed the food and developed diarrhea. A stool sample from one of the kittens tested positive for Salmonella. A fourth kitten did not eat the food and did not become sick. 

Whole genome sequencing of the Salmonella in the two products revealed that the turkey product contained Salmonella Typhimurium, while the chicken product contained Salmonella Typhimurium and Kentucky.

Darwin’s Natural Pet Products released a memo on Aug. 4 stating that they believe the FDA’s alert is not necessary. “We believe the FDA’s request is wholly unnecessary; there are no pet health risks to address. We also believe the FDA’s request is based on flawed regulatory decision-making and have taken steps to make our position clear with the agency.” The full memo can be viewed here.

Consumers who have either of the two Darwin’s Natural Pet Products Natural Selections Cat Foods listed above should stop feeding it to their pets and throw it away in a secure container where other animals, including wildlife, cannot access it. 

Consumers who have had this product in their homes should clean refrigerators/freezers where the product was stored and clean and disinfect all bowls, utensils, food prep surfaces, pet bedding, litter boxes, toys, floors, and any other surfaces that the food or pet may have had contact with. 

Clean up the pet’s feces in places where people or other animals may become exposed. Consumers should thoroughly wash their hands after handling any pet food product or cleaning up potentially contaminated items and surfaces.

About Salmonella infections in pets

Pets do not always display symptoms when infected with Salmonella, but signs can include vomiting, diarrhea (which may be bloody), fever, loss of appetite and/or decreased activity level. If a pet has these symptoms, the owners should consult a veterinarian promptly. Consumers should also be aware that infected pets can shed the bacteria in their feces without showing signs of being sick.

Pet foods contaminated with Salmonella are of particular public health importance because they can affect both human and animal health, according to the FDA. Pets can get sick from Salmonella and may also be carriers of the bacteria and pass it on to their human companions without appearing to be ill. The FDA is aware of cases in which humans and/or animals have gotten sick from exposure to Salmonella-contaminated pet foods 

Because animals can shed the bacteria when they have bowel movements, it’s particularly important to clean up the animal’s feces in yards or parks where people or other animals may become exposed, in addition to cleaning items in the home.

About Salmonella infections in humans

Human or animal food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria does not usually look, smell, or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection. Infants, children, seniors and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.

Anyone who has come in contact with any of the recalled products and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise, healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients require hospitalization.

Older adults, children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.

Some people get infected without getting sick or showing any symptoms. However, they may still spread the infections to others.

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