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Update to FDA Investigation on Pig Ear Pet Treats


November 1, 2019

The following was originally posted on the FDA’s site on July 3 and updated on October 30.

As of October 30, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are modifying their recommendation that people avoid purchasing or feeding pig ear pet treats entirely. This change in advice is based on the slowed rate of human illness reports. Consumers who choose to feed pig ears should take caution to practice safe pet food handling. If consumers choose to feed pig ear pet treats, they should exercise caution and practice good hygiene by: monitoring their pet while they have the treat, picking up the treat when they are done with it, keeping treats away from small children, cleaning the areas the treat contacted, washing hands and not allowing their pet to lick them, their family members or surfaces in their home.

According to the CDC, the rate of new human illnesses reports has slowed and returned to baseline levels. FDA continues to investigate and work with state partners to monitor the marketplace. FDA advises retailers who wish to introduce pig ear pet treats into the market to take appropriate steps to ensure that their suppliers are controlling for pathogens, and that products are not cross-contaminated after processing. FDA urges firms to remain vigilant about taking measures to control pathogens such as salmonella, and to conduct regular assessments, including testing, to ensure the effectiveness of their processing and the safety of their products.

FDA remains concerned about the hygiene risks posed by the pig ear pet treats stored and sold in bulk. Retailers, distributors and other operators who offer bulk pig ears for sale should regularly wash and sanitize bulk bins, other storage containers and any surfaces (e.g., counters, displays, floors) that have come into contact with potentially contaminated products. In addition, you should advise employees and customers to wash their hands after handling pet treats and food. If you are in possession of bulk product imported by any of the firms on the Import Alert before January 2019, these products should undergo further processing to kill potential pathogens before they are offered for sale. Alternatively, you may carefully dispose of the pig ear pet treats in a secure container where animals, including wildlife, cannot access it.

The FDA, CDC and State partners, investigated a link between pig ear pet treats and human cases of salmonellosis. The FDA traced back some of the pig ear treats associated with cases of illness to sources in Argentina, Brazil and Colombia. Three U.S. firms associated with cases in the outbreak have recalled. Some of these treats have tested positive for salmonella. Salmonella can affect both human and animal health. People with symptoms of salmonella infection should consult their healthcare providers. Consult a veterinarian if your pet has symptoms of salmonella infection. Although the outbreak appears to be over, FDA will continue to monitor the marketplace as product is introduced and will provide the public with any new information as it becomes available.

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