Pig ear treats from Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia implicated in four-year long Salmonella outbreak

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed 143 reports of Salmonella infections linked to contact with contaminated pig ear dog treats from South America.

The Salmonella outbreak, which has been underway since 2015, is responsible for 33 hospitalizations. Twenty-six of the outbreak victims are children under the age of five.

Outbreak details

Outbreak cases have been reported from 35 states, including: Alabama (1), Arizona (1), California (1), Colorado (3), Connecticut (1), Florida (3), Georgia (3), Hawaii (1), Illinois (10), Indiana (5), Iowa (23), Kansas (3), Kentucky (6), Louisiana (1), Maine (1), Maryland (1), Massachusetts (4), Michigan (14), Minnesota (1), Missouri (7), New Hampshire (1), New Jersey (3), New Mexico (1), New York (16), North Carolina (2), North Dakota (1), Ohio (8), Oregon (3), Pennsylvania (7), South Carolina (2), Texas (2), Utah (1), Virginia (1), Washington (1), Wisconsin (4).

Several different strains of Salmonella have been recovered from patients and from pig ear dog treats from Argentina, Brazil and Colombia. Both bulk and packaged treats may be contaminated with one or more of the outbreak strains.

Implicated products include both non-irradiated and irradiated treats. Irradiation, if carried out correctly, should kill Salmonella.

It is possible either that irradiated treats may have been commingled with non-irradiated treats, or that effective product irradiation may not have occurred for bulk products and for packaged or individually wrapped products, according to the US Food and Drug administration (FDA).

Salmonella serotypes I 4,[5],12:i:-, Cerro, Derby, Infantis, London, Newport, and Rissen have been recovered from outbreak patients, according to the US Food and Drug Administration. In addition, Salmonella serotypes Anatum, Brandenburg, Give, Livingstone, Panama, Seftenberg, Typhimurium, Uganda, and Worthington have been recovered from pig ear dog treat samples.

CDC is reviewing its database to determine whether any of these additional strains may also have been responsible for illnesses.

Recalls and Alerts

Investigations carried out by FDA and various state agencies have resulted product recalls by several companies, including: Lennox Intl Inc, Pet Supplies Plus, Dog Goods USA LLC, and Brutus & Barnaby LLC.

The recalls announced so far do not account for all of the 143 illnesses, according to CDC.

Twenty years ago, FDA initiated Import Alert 72-03 (Detention Without Physical Examination and Intensified Coverage of Pig Ears And Other Pet Treats Due To The Presence Of Salmonella) in response to an outbreak of Salmonella Infantis illnesses linked to pig ear dog treats from Canada.

The list of companies included under Import Alert 72-03 has expanded in the years since to include pig ears and other pet treats manufactured by one or more companies based in Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Germany, Hong Kong, Kyrgystan, Mexico, Nepal, New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Venezuela, and Vietnam.

As a result of its most recent investigations, FDA has added three companies to the Import Alert list: Custom Pet S.A.S. (Colombia), Suarko, SRL (Argentina) and Anabe Industria e Comercio de Proteinas (Brazil), and has intensified its sampling of imported pig ear dog treats.

Impact on animals

In addition to the human illnesses, eFoodAlert has learned that FDA is investigating 12 reports of animal illnesses. Pig ears from recalled product collected from homes with ill pets have been positive, but the connection with the outbreak strains has not been confirmed.

There are two reported possible human illnesses from cases where dogs were also ill, according to a spokesperson for FDA. However, there have not been any strain matches between human and pet isolates in the same household.

Situation in Canada

At the moment, there is no active outbreak investigation in Canada linked to pig ear dog treats, according to a spokesperson for the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Canada has very specific requirements for the importation of pet chews from third companies. These products must be subjected to a heat treatment sufficient to destroy microbial and/or pathogenic organisms, including Salmonella.

Every shipment must be accompanied by a zoosanitary export certificate issued by the veterinary competent authority to attest the sanitary requirements as well as a certificate of analysis issued by an independent accredited laboratory from the country of origin, indicating test results for Salmonella and Enterobacteriaceae, according to a spokesperson for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

What should consumers do?
  • The FDA and CDC recommend that people avoid purchasing or feeding any pig ear pet treats at this time. This recommendation may change as more information becomes available.
  • If you think you have symptoms of Salmonella infection, consult your health care provider.
  • People who think their pets have become ill after consuming contaminated pet food should first contact their veterinarians. Veterinarians who wish to have pets tested for Salmonellamay do so through the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (Vet-LIRN Network) if the pet is from a household with a person infected with Salmonella.
  • FDA encourages consumers to report complaints about pet food products electronically through the Safety Reporting Portal. This information helps FDA further protect human and animal health.




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