People charged with overseeing the safety of our food supply have a crucial role in society that is not properly appreciated. In a westernized community, food borne illness is so rare that citizens take food safety for granted. In the United States, the probability of a lethal food poisoning from any one meal is one in 73 million1. Such stellar success actually makes it difficult for authorities to get anyone to listen to them, except in moments of high drama or sudden fear.
So maybe we should be more attentive when they sternly rap the desk with a hickory rod and promise dire things. Perhaps it is understandable when authorities get a bit over-reaching when nobody will listen to them. Understandable, but not acceptable. After a long career in science, the last person I will listen to is the one telling me they know what’s good for me or they know the answer to my question. The person I want to listen to, intently, is the one who says, “I don’t know the answer. But, I can tell you this…” The person willing to admit ignorance on a subject, indeed compelled to, is the one who has studied it carefully and deeply, and the one best able to inform others. Sadly, we are surrounded by evidence of the myopia of establishment thinking and dogma. You don’t have to cite the world-is-flat doctrine or the Spanish Inquisition for proof. For example, according to the all-knowing authorities in the 1960s, butter would kill you and margarine would prevent death by butter. Today, exactly the opposite is known to be true. Butter is a rich source of anti-cancer nutrients, while margarine is proven to be full of carcinogens. Simple total blood cholesterol is now understood to predict nothing, but for decades entire societies remade themselves at the altar of cholesterol.
Level headed professionals do not attack raw pet food with fear mongering. Raw food, human or pet, may be a vector for pathogens, but it can also be a source of beneficial bacteria, undamaged vitamins and enzymes, higher palatability and greater digestibility. There are people who have been selling raw pet food for decades and never had a single problem with salmonella or listeria. Everybody counsels that proper food handling is imperative, just as for any raw meat. What I’m saying: In considering the place of raw pet food in the larger picture, I do not blindly accept the perceived wisdom of its market competitors or its market policemen. The perspective from these sectors is part of the fact gathering and due diligence, but so too is the point of view and insights of raw food proponents.
In the US, there is a pet for every other person. They are everywhere. From this we can conclude pets must be of import and value to people, bringing something worthwhile to their lives. It follows that there would exist an industry catering to pet owners. This is what happens in a free market society; entrepreneurs are rewarded for filling needs. Pet foods are a major portion of this support industry, with dry pet food the leading type. Dry pet food predominates because it is acceptable nutrition, economic and convenient. No argument here. Dry pet food is the cheapest and needs no refrigeration.
Dry pet food is acceptable nutrition but it is not the best nutrition. This should be another “no argument here,” but instead we run headlong into the entrenched thinking of the establishment. At this point, I consider any observation from the dry pet food industry as inadmissible; these people have an ax to grind and should recuse themselves from the debate about acceptable vs best pet nutrition. It is allowed, without hesitation, they have a sound argument for convenience and economy, but dry pet food is too high in soluble carbohydrates and not the best diet. Some people want the best nutrition for their pet and are willing to work harder and pay more to have it.
Keeping the home environment free of food danger is central to the mandate of regulatory agencies, and they see raw pet food as a vector for pathogenic bacteria to get into the home kitchen. Evidence they generated supporting their case: 7.6% of raw pet foods bought by the Center for Veterinary Medicine from on-line suppliers tested positive for salmonella (and 16% for listeria) compared to 0% of dry foods2. In the US each year, salmonella causes 1.2 million illnesses in people, 23,000 hospitalizations and 450 deaths. Chickens are the source of the vast majority of these cases. Over 92% of non-human, non-clinical positive lab reports for salmonella are from chickens. According to Dan Engeljohn, Assistant Administrator of USDA/FSIS field operations: “Salmonella will never be eliminated. Salmonella is so ubiquitous in the market that you wouldn’t have any raw poultry unless it was all irradiated” (sterilized with radiation). As a matter of fact, the agency has a “performance standard” for rates of Salmonella contamination on whole, raw chicken, allowing a prevalence of 7.5 percent. In practice, however, inspectors consider poultry plants to be in compliance when five in 51 tests, or nearly 10 percent, are positive for Salmonella3.
Oh. So the federal regulatory agency considers 10% salmonella occurrence in grocery store poultry as “background noise” but 7.6% in pet food as cause for alarm? That’s hardly an even-handed approach to consumer protection. The thing that is most irritating about this report from a federal agency is it is biased and out of context in its focus on raw pet food. Granted, salmonella is bad, regardless what vector it rides into people’s kitchen, but the real issue here is chicken, from any source, from raw pet food or from the grocery store. A more useful trial from the consumer’s perspective would be to sample grocery store chicken and raw pet food with chicken as an ingredient, and contrast the percent salmonella positives. We already know what each assays independently—they are identical. For proper scientific validation, all that is lacking is to have the two together in the same trial. An additional trial incumbent upon the agency to run is to look at salmonella in raw pet food with and without chicken as an ingredient. Without chicken, it may be devoid of salmonella, which we’re entitled to know.
If raw pet food with chicken as an ingredient and grocery store chicken are identical in percent salmonella positives, then the logical nature of this discussion should be to alert the consumer (and cook) of the hazard of raw chicken and to provide education and guidance on how to properly handle and prepare chicken. Of course included in this discussion should be raw pet food that contains chicken as an ingredient. The point: It is behavior unbecoming a federal agency to recommend against raw pet food yet say nothing against grocery store chicken when both are identical in their failings and chicken is many times more commonplace in the American kitchen than frozen pet food in the freezer.
1. There are 330 million Americans eating 3 meals every day. That’s a billion a day for a total of 365 billion meals each year. CDC reports there are 5000 food borne illness deaths a year, or one for every 73 million meals eaten.
2. Get the facts. Raw pet food diets can be dangerous to you and your pet.
3. USDA: No Foster Farms recall of Salmonella-tainted chicken for regulatory reasons.
An additional reference stating the 7.5% permissible level of salmonella in whole chicken.
My aussie eats raw mice, decomposing groundhogs(marmota monax) and the occasional scrap of deerhide. Is that why he has that funny grin? Tom.
Yes-he knows what he is doing, it is what my pups did to stay alive on the farm while stupid us accidently thought we did well by giving them Ol Roy, eventually killing one. No more!!! Especially that dry kibble, raw and cooked all the way and the wild thing found is a blessing.
Good day Doctor,
For the past year I have been feeding our 2 dogs a whole food diet. We have,
▪ Sadie, a Labrador Retriever,
female, 11yrs, fixed,
light exercise due to a bad hip
over weight by 25 lbs.,
• Oscar, Labradoodle, male, 8yrs,
In tact, active
Overweight maybe 5 lbs.
This is the mix I use in their nightly meal.
I’m afraid of contaminants, so I slow cook the meats, (beef, chicken breast, pork or fish). However, organ meats are raw.
Veggies are slow cooked in homemade bone broth. With that I blend it all together with the bone from the broth, egg shells, berries, rishi mushroom, turmeric, ginger root, coconut oil and fish oil.
Nightly meal amounts are,
▪ 1/10th Veg mix, about a large ice
▪ Meat, 1 lb.
▪ Organ 1/10th
MY QUESTION IS,
How many calories should a large dog have per day including treats, for an ideally, eighty pound dog?
I appreciate asking an expert,
Hope you got your answer, but there are lots of raw food calculators online to help guide you, each dog may need to be adjusted depending on foods, health, age, issues, activity level and availability. A local knowledgeable vet or support group online or otherwise is also great to help guide. Ultimately you have to observe how your adored beast 🙂 is doing. It goes from 1-3% of their body desired body weight, including all raw meats, the percentage depends on whether they are losing, maintaining or needing to gain weight. Raw or barf diet can go from 70-85% muscle meat the remaining split evenly amongst appropriate bone, organs and vegs/fruits. We add rec. bones up to 3x a week, avoid beef when you can except in very large breeds, due to some enzyme found in beef naturally, forget what it is, see Dr Dobias. Remember dogs normally create their own vitamin C so don’t add unless there are unusual circumstances. Doc here wrote in Dogs Naturally Magazine, they have tons of great guidance on this and many topis. Do your checking and pray on what works best for you. I am an animal lover who is a homeschooling mom living in the mountains of NY and have raised and trained dogs for over 4 decades and more in the last decade rescuing adult/senior dogs that were all converted to Raw. They were not cured, but many things improved and I learned is support their system, provide for their system, and detox every 6 months, the same advice is great for us humans, also live a healthy lifestyle. The best and probably first advice, is don’t sweat the small stuff and everything is the small stuff, so enjoy life and just do your best, we can not know and do everything, it’s about the journey with each other, even our pets.
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