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Today, I'm taking a break from sharing recipes to share my thoughts on a recent notice and voluntary recall. I recently received a message from my rabbit supplier, The Thogersen Family Farm, that the Washington State Department of Agriculture found that a sample of their food tested positive for listeria.
I couldn't care less.
Whenever there is a voluntary recall, people start running around like Chicken Little, screaming THE END OF RAW FEEDING IS NEAR, sharing articles, asking “what do I feed my dogs now?” in raw feeding groups, and making proclamations of “That's why I don't trust that brand, their food is nasty.”
At what point in time did we decided raw meat shouldn't contain bacteria? Exactly when did that become our truth?
Let's Talk About Listeria
Listeria is a bacteria found in raw meat. An overabundance of listeria or other bacterium are concern for pregnant women, seniors, and people with a compromised immune system.
The reason I'm not worried about the listeria in the rabbit I buy is that my dogs already ate it and they didn't have an issue. Plus, dogs can biologically consume raw meat and handle the bacteria – people cannot.
- Dogs have properties in their saliva that help them kill the bacteria in raw meat.
- Dogs have an acidic gut which isn't a happy place for bacteria to live.
- Dogs have a shorter digestive tract that helps them process food, absorb nutrients, and eliminate waste quickly and efficiently.
Plus, my dogs have dined on dead wild rabbits for a couple of days, in the summer, before I knew what they were doing and they were fine.
I get that not everyone is “FINE” with this. If you or your dog have a compromised immune system, I respect that you may have some concern. If this is the case, I suggest that you speak with your veterinarian about your risks.
How Much Bacteria is Dangerous for Dogs?
I have no idea and this is the question that comes to mind whenever I see an FDA warning or a voluntary recall. What I find interesting is the lack of transparency on this point. So, FDA and Department of Agriculture, how much is too much? Strangely, they're silent on this point. I've also noticed the shocking lack of news of dogs dying after being fed the raw listed in the recall notices.
In my opinion, these agencies count on our habit of only reading a headline and flipping out.
When Raw Food is Recalled
When I see that a raw food brand that I source meat from has issued a voluntary recall or is subject to a warning letter from the FDA, I ask the following questions:
- Were any dogs or cats harmed?
- If “yes,” can they prove that it was the food? Darwin's Pet food was accused of killing a kitten, yet all of the other kittens that ate the same food are fine – does that mean the food is harmful?
- How much bacteria was found in the sample?
- While the FDA is quick to warn us about bacteria in raw food, they have yet to tell us how much is harmful to pets and humans.
- What strain of bacteria was found in the sample?
- Also, I'd like to know about the different strains of salmonella and listeria and how they differ. Do some pose more of a risk than others?
- How was the sample collected, transported, stored?
- In the experience with Rad Cat, the sample was stored in a car (not in a cooler or freezer) in the summer as it was transported to a lab for testing. Of course, the sample tested positive for bacteria, they created the perfect environment for bacteria to grow!
I have yet to be concerned about feeding my dogs food from brands that have issued a voluntary recall. And based on my experience and research, I didn't feel that the recent voluntary recall issued by The Thogersen Family Farm was cause for alarm. Hell, I'm not eating the food raw, I wash my hands after handling raw meat, and I don't eat dog poop. I think I'm good.
So I ordered 50 pounds of rabbit. It'll be arriving today.