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AVMA takes action against raw food feeding



Unfortunately, not one of the studies cited in support of the policy has included any steps to ensure these good practices are maintained in the study participants. Food sources are characterized only to the level of species (beef, chicken, turkey, ...), if at all. Inspection status regarding fitness for human consumption is not stated in a single study. Descriptions of methods are restricted to the methods of handling for fecal samples with no mention of food preparation methods or hygienic measures in homes or manufacturing facilities. Furthermore, no study cited in support of the AVMA policy included any control samples from commercially available meals prepared by standard methods (cooking, extrusion). Even the authors of the most extensive and methodologically sound of these studies[ii] acknowledged, "There is currently inadequate information regarding the safety of raw diets in terms of both animal and human disease." One study[vii] cited in support of the recently stated policy of Pet Partners to preclude animals fed raw diets from participation in animal therapy programs that involve hospital visitation did include limited canned and extruded products as controls. The finding suggested higher incidence of bacterial contamination in commercially available raw diets than in these more standard commercially available diets, but notably contamination was found in diets of all types. While it was one of the most rigorous studies in this area, it was not sufficiently powered statistically to prove this point to a scientific standard. As the authors noted in the study, "a limited number of samples of the dry and canned diets were included as controls, and this did not allow for statistical analyses or comparisons. Further investigation is warranted to make quantitative comparisons of the degree of bacterial contamination among those types of commercial diets." The broad finding of contamination in all diets reflect, in part the coarseness of the methods for detecting bacteria. In practice, the bacteria of greatest concern for human health are Escherichia coli O157:H7, one of hundreds of variants of E. coli, and a handful of serovars of Salmonella enterica enterica, out of thousands of serovars. This study and others have tested only for the presence or absence of E. coli-like bacteria or Salmonella species—not for species specific variants that are risk factors for clinical disease. Salmonella is an important but particularly common bacterial food contaminant, the basis for recent recalls of commercial dog food[viii], as well as of eggs, spinach and alfalfa sprouts, among other human foods. Because they are relevant human pathogens, several of the studies cited by the AVMA and Pet Partners policies also tested for Camplylobacter spp., Clostridium spp. and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)ii,[ix]. No relationship of any of these specifically pathogenic varieties of species and the use of raw food diets was found.
It is understandable that scientific research has yet to provide all the necessary answers for this somewhat contentious issue, which has emerged relatively recently. To be fair, scientific evidence for the benefits of raw food diets is limited as well, but it is important to recognize that this is the state of our understanding. Declarative policies should not close the door on practices without good evidence solely because they are relatively unfamiliar. It is not constructive to indiscriminately cite parades of bacteriological and parasiticological horrors to a public audience ill-prepared to evaluate them. For instance, one study cited in support of the AVMA policy described essentially every known pathogen of dogs, without any assessment of clinical or for that matter canine relevance.[x] Describing the risk of feeding everything from muskrat to walrus to pets is really more confusing than helpful, and discussion of anthrax, botulism and tuberculosis is little short of alarmist.
Good studies of practical raw meat diets representative of use by pet owners, prepared and presented with good, well-documented methods and including appropriate controls remain to be done. It is too early, on the basis of present evidence, to conclude that raw food diets properly handled are particularly risky, and to be fair it is too early to conclude that they are not. Good studies are called for.
There is legitimate basis for concern regarding bacterial contamination of raw meat and eggs. In the interim, it makes sense to practice good hygienic methods, use well-inspected ingredients, handle them carefully, and avoid contact of raw foods and food preparation materials by the very young, the very old and the ill. The evidence is not conclusive, but particular caution being warranted under the circumstances, the decision of Pet Partners to avoid raw diets in therapy animals working in hospitals seems sensible until more conclusive evidence is available.
Apart from the particular care due the infirm, it is reasonable to keep in mind that "no confirmed cases of human salmonellosis have been associated with these diets"[xi]
As for the AVMA policy, it is only reasonable if the first statement "Never feed inadequately treated animal-source protein to cats and dogs" is permissive of an interpretation that careful hygienic methods constitute adequate treatment. A blanket ban of raw food no matter how prepared and handled is unwarranted by the scientific evidence.
A recent review[xii] of the evidence surrounding raw food diets on the basis of standards of evidence conventionally used in medicine concluded: "Although there is a lack of large cohort studies to evaluate risk or benefit of raw meat diets fed to pets, there is enough evidence to compel veterinarians to discuss human health implications of these diets with owners." This is sensible advice. The evidence does not currently warrant a policy that may be interpreted as tantamount to a ban. All those interested in the safety and efficacy of raw food diets for pets should keep their minds open, and support the further research that will be required for better understanding of the risks and benefits of raw foods.




Here is the (of course uncited) information they put on the ragdoll site, amongst their own cheering victory:

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) -- The American Veterinary Medical Association passed a resolution Friday discouraging the feeding of raw meat to cats and dogs. Pet owners and vets have varying opinions on the matter, but the AVMA's reasoning behind the resolution lies with the health concerns for humans.

Pathogens such as Salmonella, E. coli and other bacteria can easily be transmitted from raw food to humans through the handling of the food, or through contact with the animal's feces.

Dr. Ashley Hughes of Friendship Hospital for Animals in Tenleytown says that feeding raw food in a house with children, elderly people or people who have weak immune systems is especially dangerous.

She hopes that the AVMA's resolution will help increase awareness of the dangers of raw food, because pet-owners are often getting a different message online.

Dr. Hughes says, "The Internet tells them raw food is the best thing to feed, and if they love their dog, this is what they should be feeding them, and so I hope people research it more and, you know, make an informed decision if that's what they want to feed."

Dr. Hughes warns that the bacteria that can be transmitted from raw food is very difficult to eradicate. Studies show that even with proper washing of bowls and utensils, the bacteria can persist and be transmitted to people.

Even though this isn't a ban, some pet owners still are wary of the AVMA's decision, fearing that the push against raw diets may be influenced by commercial pet food manufacturers.

Justin A. Frank, M.D. from the D.C. area, feeds his dogs raw ground beef, chicken and pork. "I say that somebody's payin' 'em off. I don't buy it. I think it's fine. They're good, they're healthy...they like it. I mean, a lot of people think it's not safe to eat sushi and it's not safe to eat steak tartare, and I don't agree with that."

Other pet owners simply avoid raw food altogether. Catherine Maltby from Silver Spring, Md. says, "I don't feed it to my dog because my vet recommends only dry kibble."

Dr. Hughes says that making an informed decision about the matter is key. "I think it's about discussing your feeding choices with your veterinarian and working out a system and a way of feeding that works for you and your pet."

Ultimately, the resolution is just a recommendation. The decision is up to pet owners to decide what they want to feed their furry friends.


Probably won't see anything official until Monday at the earliest, but since TruthAboutPetFood was at the meeting, I doubt she would post it unless it were true.


Site Supporter
This is all so ridiculous. Whats next? A "resolution" stating its unsafe to have more than one animal or breeds in one household because they might injure each other??? :mad:


Mine came close this morning during their morning wrestle so at least that's a policy that would be closer to the truth. :(


Savannah Super Cat
Well, they should also tell the Japanese that sushi is inedible and they, or whoever else likes sushi, can not make it or sell it.
I am glad my vet is not part of the AVMA.