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Feeding raw meat to pets could be dangerous, say scientists

The raw meat diet for pets has been criticised by scientists, who say it could potentially be harmful to both animals and humans.

A team of researchers in the Netherlands have said that the foods could be contaminated with bacteria and parasites.

The raw meat diet has grown in popularity, as some believe it is healthier than feeding pets processed foods.

The Utrecht University researchers led by Paul Overgaauw tested 35 raw meat products from eight different brands widely available in the Netherlands and found that 23% of the products contained E-coli, while 80% contained an antibiotic-resistant strain of the bacteria.

Four of the products analysed contained the parasite Sarcocystis cruzi and four contained Sarcocystis tenella. Toxoplasma gondii was found in two of the products.

Salmonella was found in 20% of the products while species of sarcocystis were found in 23%.

Researchers said: “Cats and dogs that eat raw meat diets are also more likely to become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria than animals on conventional diets which could pose a serious risk to both animal health and public health.”

The research concluded that raw meat products should come with health risk warnings on the labels and packaging.

Greg Van Praagh, director of Benyfit Natural said of the research: “In the UK commercially available raw food products are tested and checked in line with industry specific guidelines. We have extremely robust guidelines for Microbiological testing and commercial raw pet food manufacturers must meet these standards.

“The study claims that 50% of Dutch people feed raw food, but doesn’t state how many cases of pathogens have been transferred to humans, or if any have caused harm.”

He added: “At Benyfit Natural, safety is fundamental when producing raw food. Health and hygiene are paramount, with all products being stringently tested in line with sector specific guidelines. We have a duty of care to make sure that best practice and “responsible raw feeding” is taking place.

“We advise the public to buy a commercially available raw food, from a reputable manufacturer that has the knowledge and experience to provide complete and nutritionally balanced raw food products.”

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