JOPLIN, MO.--- The Food and Drug Administration proposes preventive measures to protect all animal foods from food-borne illnesses. The FDA has suggested three rules be implemented into the animal food manufacturing process. Requiring a safety plan and import rules would help prevent disease causing bacteria in all animal foods.
"The government steps in when people are being made ill by the food and basically that's what's happening. Enough people now in the U.S. have been made ill from handling pet food that the government has decided to do something about it," said Dr. Ben Leavens, DVM Main Street Pet Care Veterinarian.
Doctor Ben Leavens is a veterinarian at Main Street Pet Care in Joplin. He says the risk is not very big, but people are getting sick.
"Contamination in pet food is salmonella and other types of bacteria. People would touch those foods and then they would not wash their hands well afterwards, and they would ingest those bacteria," said Dr. Leavens.
Doctor Leavens says even last year a plant in Missouri had unknowingly manufactured food that was contaminated.
"It didn't make very many pets sick, but a little over 30 people became very critically ill from it. That was from handling the pet food, not washing their hands and then contaminating their own body," said Dr. Leavens.
The new rules would ensure that the manufacturing process of animal food is taking steps to prevent food-borne illnesses and other contaminants.
"They have to make sure that food reaches the right temperature, temperature process to kill bacteria. They have to make sure there's not contamination from a contaminated area. One of the biggest things is that they have to have a plan in place to address the safety concern in the food," said Dr. Leavens.
Health advisors say reptiles are notorious for carrying salmonella, especially the ones who live in water.
"If their environment isn't clean and you touch the frog or the turtle or whatever animal has the salmonella, and don't wash your hands after you touch those animals, then you can ingest the organism that causes the gasterial intestine upset," said Karen Watts, Freeman Infection Control Officer.
Karen Watts is an infection prevention officer at Freeman Health System in Joplin. She says you should wash your hands for at least twenty seconds before and after touching animal food. She also adds with the holidays coming up, parents should be aware of their pets bowl and their children.
"It's always a good idea to keep an eye on children who are learning to crawl or walk, to make sure they're not consuming food that isn't made for human consumption," said Watts.
Dr. Leavens says it's also important to purchase quality food for your pet. The Food and Drug Administration proposed the animal rules in July, but the public has 120 days to comment on the new rules before they are passed. You can find a link to the official dockets by clicking here.
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