How we feed our pets and wash their bowls can have negative health consequences, study finds

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A newly published study has found that how we feed our pets, store their food and wash their dishes can have negative health consequences if not done properly for both the owners and their animals.

The American study, published in the peer-reviewed online journal PLOS ONE, analysed the results of contamination levels when correct procedures for pet food handling were followed versus when they were not, reports CNN on April 10.

The importance of following good hygiene practice drastically reduced the likelihood of illnesses among humans after exposure to E. coli- and salmonella-contaminated dog food, especially when owners prepared raw food.

The researchers found only 4.7 per cent of 417 surveyed dog owners were aware of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pet food handling and dish hygiene guidelines.

Many followed bad practices: 43 per cent of participants stored dog food within 1.5 metres of human food, only 34 per cent washed their hands after feeding and 33 per cent prepared their dog food on prep surfaces intended for human use.

Pet food dishes have ranked highly among most contaminated household objects, sometimes even having bacterial loads close to those of toilets, according to studies published over the past 15 years.

FDA food handling tips recommend handwashing for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water; scraping food off dishes before washing; washing dishes with soap and water hotter than 71-degrees celsius for at least 30 seconds, drying thoroughly with a clean towel, or using a National Sanitation Foundation-certified dishwasher for washing and drying.

Dishes washed with hot water or a dishwasher had a decrease of 1.5 units on the contamination scale compared with those washed with cold or lukewarm water, the study found.

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Written by

Fergal MacErlean

Originally from Dublin, Fergal is based on the eastern Costa del Sol and is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]


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