Are you safely handling your pet’s food and dishes? Study finds most people at risk for illness

A new study found that most dog owners in the United States do not know how to safely handle pet food and dishes, putting them at an increased risk of foodborne illness. The study, published in the journal PLOS One, found that 95% of more than 400 dog owners were not […]

A new study found that most dog owners in the United States do not know how to safely handle pet food and dishes, putting them at an increased risk of foodborne illness.

The study, published in the journal PLOS One, found that 95% of more than 400 dog owners were not aware of the FDA’s guidelines for the safe handling of pet food.

The tips include washing your hands before and after handling pet food or treats, preparing dog food on separate surfaces from the ones used for human food, and not using the feeding bowl as a scoop.

You are also supposed to wash and dry food bowls and scoops after each use. The study tested nearly 70 dog food dishes for bacteria before and after giving three different sets of instructions for handling food.

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It found less bowl contamination from owners who followed the FDA’s food handling guidelines. Those guidelines are available below:

Tips for buying pet food

  • Buy pet food products (cans, pouches, or bags) that are in good condition. Check the packaging for visible signs of damage, such as dents, tears, and discolorations.

Tips for preparing pet food

  • Begin and end with clean hands. Both before and after handling pet food and treats, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and hot water.

  • Wash pet food bowls and scooping utensils with soap and hot water after each use.

  • Do not use your pet’s food bowl as a scooping utensil. Use a clean scoop, spoon, or cup instead. Use the scooping utensil only for scooping pet food.

  • Throw out old or spoiled pet food in a safe way, for example, by placing it in a securely tied plastic bag in a covered trash can.

Tips for storing pet food

  • Promptly refrigerate or throw out unused or leftover canned and pouched pet food. Tightly cover refrigerated pet food. Set your refrigerator to 40 F or below.

  • Store dry pet food in a cool and dry place. The temperature should be less than 80 F. Excess heat or moisture can cause the nutrients to break down.

  • Store dry pet food in its original bag and keep the top of the bag tightly folded down.

  • Keep pet food in a secure location to prevent your pet from eating an entire supply at once.


Love your pet? Don’t have one, but you’re thinking about getting one? View our All 4 Pets coverage here to see adorable animals and learn more about pet ownership.


Looking for more information? Some helpful links are available below:

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