The War on Raw: Taking a Closer Look at Bacterial Contamination

It is important for pet owners like yourself to understand the different types of bacteria present in raw and dry diets, what role bacteria plays inside your pet's body and the steps you should take to prevent incidence of harmful cross contamination. 

Stephanie Minturn · September 11, 2018

Bacterial contamination has been a concern in the pet food industry for raw and kibble alike, yet the finger seems to continuously point to raw. This is an obvious assumption because raw meat diets equal harmful bacteria, right? Well, not exactly. It is important for pet owners like yourself to understand the different types of bacteria present in raw and dry diets, what role bacteria plays inside your pet's body and the steps you should take to prevent incidence of harmful contamination. 

First, I feel it necessary to address the elephant in the room. Yes, raw pet food contains bacteria. As a matter of fact, bacteria is one of the best components of a raw diet. The digestive system of dogs and cats are designed to tolerate harmful bacteria while soaking up the benefits of healthy bacteria and living enzymes. People everywhere have caught on to this concept for their own bodies, hence the reason probiotic sales are at an all time high. We eat yogurt for the "good bacteria" and the benefits it provides our intestinal flora. A raw diet for your pet is essentially the same thing. However, it is apparent that the fear of bacteria is not related to Fido, who is thriving on his raw-meat diet and happier than ever. The fear actually derives from cross contamination concerns. Pet owners are not worried that raw diets will harm their pet, they're worried it could harm their family. This is a valid concern and our team at BARF World is here to help! Your health and the health of your family and pets is our primary focus. We have been helping people feed their pets the best diet and preventing cross-contamination issues for nearly twenty years. We can help you too! 

Think about this fact; the FDA allows 25% salmonella contamination in human grade chicken. This is down from 47% which was permitted until 2016. This is the chicken breast you buy at your local grocery store and then prepare in your kitchen. Knowing this fact, are you going to stop serving your family that chicken parmesan? No, you will simply wash your hands and diligently disinfect your workspace with one of those handy-dandy antibacterial wipes. We do this because we are aware of the risk of contamination, therefore we take the appropriate measures to prevent it. That being said, you can do the same in reference to feeding your pets. Do you have small children in the home? No problem, feed Fido in an isolated area and immediately remove and wash his dishes. There are biodegradable dish options available to choose from to help reduce contamination risk. These precautionary steps solely rely on personal responsibility. We handle potentially dangerous items each and everyday. We don't stop using electricity when our babies begin crawling; we simply "baby proof" our homes and cover the outlets. So, why is there so much concern regarding cross contamination when handling raw food? It may have something to do with the recent outbreak of bacteria related illnesses that has sparked the public's interest, causing people to fear contamination now, more than ever. This has caused the FDA to enforce new guidelines and standards to help protect the public from potential danger. It's completely understandable to feel overwhelmed when deciding what type of diet is the safest and most beneficial. 

Yes, you understand all the incredible benefits the BARF diet provides, but all this talk about bacteria may have you thinking that you should just feed your pet the "best", top-brand kibble. This would eliminate all the risk of bacteria, right? Wrong. The FDA regularly reports brand after brand of dry kibble containing salmonella, listeria and other similar bacteria at dangerously high levels. Like raw feeding, you can avoid human contamination by practicing effective hand hygiene and sanitizing your environment. If you feed kibble, your method should be no different than that of raw feeders; keeping in mind that humans are at risk regardless whether they feed raw or dry. 

Pet foods contain bacteria. We get it. We also understand that our pets can handle bacteria and humans cannot. By practicing proper hygiene, we minimize the possibility of cross contamination. Did you also know that kibble contains other components which can actually harm your pet? That's right, it isn't just the salmonella and listeria that is causing a big problem, folks. Kibble poses threats that even handwashing cannot eliminate. These threats may not affect your family but WILL affect your pet. Not only does kibble have bacterial risks, but it also contains additional chemicals which have proven extremely hazardous for your pet. 

Two terms that you may have heard in the news and should be aware of are mycotoxins and aflatoxins. Mycotoxins are toxic metabolites produced by a fungus. Aflatoxins, the class of toxic compounds produced by certain molds found in food, are known to cause liver damage and cancer. These toxins are found primarily in grain-based products; specifically corn. Grown among corn crops, these toxins are highly carcinogenic and encourage tumor production.Cancers, kidney failure and digestive distress are the chief medical complaints of pet parents turning to raw after feeding kibble. It seems the focus should shift to removing these deadly toxins and steering away from grain-based diets rather than creating a panic over bacterias which are found in ALL of our food; whether it is intended for humans or pets. 

Dr. Karen Becker is an expert on the subject and states that she highly recommends "transitioning your pet away from all dry food to either a high quality, human grade canned food, or better yet, a balanced, fresh food diet." She goes on to express that "commercially prepared raw pet foods, including dehydrated raw can eliminate risk of aflatoxin ingestion". 

Other carcinogenic chemicals found in dry dog food include Butylated Hydroxyanisole, Butylated Hydroxytoluene and Propylene Glycol, along with toxic preservatives causing inflammatory disorders and digestive complications. The BARF diet is free of these toxins, preservatives, fillers, dyes and other by-products which increase the risk of serious complications. 

The answer is apparent. Don't be fooled by false accusations. Feeding your pet a raw diet does not increase the risk of bacterial contamination anymore than feeding kibble. 

Raw is the clear choice if you want to avoid carcinogens and feed your pet a natural and balanced diet. BARF World can help! Please call us at 1-866-282-2273 to talk to our Raw Food Specialists or visit BARF World by clicking here



Stephanie Minturn

Stephanie Minturn

Stephanie is a Registered Nurse and proud mother of 4 who has always loved animals and the purity and beauty they bring into the world. She enjoys researching current trends and evidence-based practice in the pet industry and relating it to the healthcare industry for humans. She has passion in discovering new-found knowledge with other pet owners like herself.


Jessica wemette
Sep 18, 2018

I am a nurse with my BSN and I see alot of wrong with relating information between humans health and dog food. Make sure the writer is citing the information correctly and using a crited wedsite. Webmd is not a reliable cite for information.

Stephanie Minturn
Sep 19, 2018

Hi Jessica! Thanks so much for your comment! I agree that comparing human and pet food may seem a bit odd but I felt it was necessary because we are not referring to consumption, we are referring to contamination. Meals are usually prepared and consumed in the kitchen, whether we're talking about dogs or humans. Cross contamination is the fear here. I want people to understand that there is more bacteria in YOUR food which you prepare everyday in your kitchen than what is being permitted in raw dog food. Why deprive your dog of such an incredible diet when there is more bacteria in your own food? It all relies on personal hygiene and sanitation practices. Please take a look at yesterday's article which explains the new standards set by the FDA. Here at BARF World, we are embracing the changes and securing a process which removes harmful bacteria and retains the living enzymes. All great news! This article was simply to raise awareness. Thanks again for the response, Jessica!

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What is BARF?

"BARF®" is our acronym that means Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. It is a complete and carefully balanced blend of raw meat, fruits, vegetables and bone. Our formula mimics what nature has designed our pet's to thrive on in the wild. The result is a pet free of allergies, digestive problems, and full of life!

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