Pets, peanut butter and Salmonella – A cautionary tale

Between September 2008 and April 2009, contaminated peanut butter manufactured by the Peanut Corporation of America caused 714 confirmed cases of Salmonella Typhimurium illnesses in the United States. The outbreak claimed nine lives.

3rd Birthday #1 Aug 2005In addition to the human toll extracted by the contaminated peanut butter, the CDC reported one laboratory-confirmed case of Salmonella in a dog from an Oregon household. Salmonella resembling the outbreak strain was recovered by a private laboratory from a sample of Happy Tails Multi-Flavored Dog Biscuits.

Some of the biscuits in the package contained peanut butter.

The Happy Tails biscuits were recalled on January 23, 2009, just a few days after the dog became ill.

In a separate incident, a dog in Georgia died after being fed Austin peanut butter crackers. The crackers were among a long list of products recalled in response to the Salmonella outbreak.

Peanut butter has been associated with several other outbreaks of Salmonella and one E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in the United States since 2009, resulting in ninety-three illnesses and twenty-three hospitalizations.

The Jif peanut butter situation

The CDC is now reporting sixteen confirmed cases of Salmonella Senftenberg across twelve states.

Two people have been hospitalized.

Ten out of ten outbreak victims interviewed by state and local public health officials reported having consumed peanut butter in the week before they fell ill. Nine of the ten reported having eaten Jif peanut butter. The tenth victim did not know what brand of peanut butter was consumed.

The May 20, 2022, recall of Jif peanut butter products already has triggered at least fifteen recalls in the United States by manufacturers who used one of the recalled products as an ingredient.

While no pet foods or pet treats have been recalled so far, the contaminated Jif peanut butters still represent a risk to family pets.

Many dog owners use treat balls smeared with peanut butter to keep their pets occupied when left alone.

Others use peanut butter to make pills more palatable, or to tempt the appetite of a dog that has become disinterested in food.

Although dogs are less susceptible than humans to developing symptoms of a Salmonella infection, they can become symptomless carriers, and shed the bacteria in their stools for several weeks after becoming infected.

Keep yourself, your family and your pets safe

  • If your pet has eaten one of the recalled Jif peanut butter products, watch for symptoms of salmonellosis, including diarrhea, loss of appetite, or vomiting, and take your pet to the veterinarian without delay if these symptoms appear. If possible, bring a fresh stool sample to the veterinary office and ask for a Salmonella test.
  • If your pet is showing symptoms of salmonellosis, take extra precautions to keep young children away, and be alert for signs of salmonellosis among household members.
  • Always wash your hands with soap and water right after handling any pet food or treats.
  • When possible, store pet food and treats away from where human food is stored or prepared and away from reach of young children.
  • Don’t use your pet’s feeding bowl to scoop food. Use a clean, dedicated scoop, spoon, or cup.
  • Always follow any storage instructions on pet food bags or containers.

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