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Is this really a risk worth taking?
beagle and cat eating
A US study revealed 66 of 576 samples of raw dog or cat foods tested were positive for Listeria.

Should veterinary professionals be warning of the zoonotic risks of raw pet foods?

The Foods Standards Agency (FSA) has just published its ‘Food and You 2014’ survey report, based on information about peoples’ behaviours, attitudes and knowledge relating to food safety issues. It should prompt veterinary professionals to consider the advice they give to clients about feeding raw meat and poultry to their pets.

The survey, based on a sample of 3,453 interviews, provides data on people’s reports of their food purchasing, storage, preparation, consumption and factors that may affect these, such as eating habits, influences on where respondents choose to eat out and experiences of food poisoning.

Eight out of ten respondents reported cleaning behaviours in line with recommended practices, saying they always washed their hands before starting to prepare or cook food and after handling raw meat, poultry or fish.

Around half (51%) of those who reported storing raw meat and poultry in the fridge reported practices in line with those recommended to avoid cross contamination; and 49 per cent said they always used different chopping boards for different types of food.

Set against this FSA report, an article published in the September edition of Foodborne Pathogens and Disease entitled, ‘Investigation of Listeria, Salmonella, and toxigenic Escherichia coli in various pet foods’, should ring some alarm bells.

It reported that 66 of 576 samples of raw dog or cat foods tested in the US were positive for Listeria, including 32 that were positive for L. monocytogenes. In addition, 15 of the samples were positive for Salmonella and two were positive for Shiga toxin-producing E coli.

Not surprisingly, the authors conclude that consumers should handle these products carefully, being mindful of the potential risks to human and animal health.

This article is the latest in a series of studies warning of the problems associated with the feeding of raw pet foods – perhaps the most comprehensive recent overview being provided by Lisa Freeman and others at the end of 2013
[JAVMA 243(11) December 1, 2013].

The BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) and RMB (Raw Meaty Bones) lobbies and proponents of prepared pet foods continue to debate the health implications of their particular approaches to nutrition and the respective weight of scientific supporting data.  

Irrespective of this, isn’t there a more fundamental question as to the wisdom of introducing potentially contaminated food sources into the kitchen, unnecessarily, in the first place? And shouldn’t veterinary professionals be taking the lead in warning clients about it?

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BEVA gives vets access to free membership for three months

News Story 1
 BEVA has announced that it is cutting membership renewal charges for the next three months in order to support all veterinary professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Memberships for all existing BEVA members will be extended until 30 June 2020. Veterinary professionals who are not members of BEVA will also be able to sign up for a free membership until 30 June 2020.

BEVA president Tim Mair said: "In this extraordinary time of global crisis our profession, as with many industries, is under immense pressure. By offering free membership we are giving equine vets easy access to a wealth of supportive resources and online CPD."

To sign up please visit the BEVA website.

Image (c) BEVA. 

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News Shorts
LOVE Gorgie Farm seeking veterinary volunteers

LOVE Gorgie Farm in Edinburgh is looking for people with veterinary and animal care experience, who would be interested in volunteering to help care for its animals during these difficult times.

The community-owned charity farm opened to the public only last month, but decided to close temporarily amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Its three-person team is working to care for the animals behind the scenes and the farm is now operating as a food bank for the public, delivering free breakfasts to local school children.

In an effort to build a contingency plan to secure the welfare of its animals, LOVE Gorgie Farm is looking for volunteers who would be able to step in if any team members fell sick or needed to self-isolate.

Those interested in volunteering are asked to contact gorgie@l-o-v-e.org.uk