Animal & Veterinary

Tips for Safe Handling of Pet Food and Treats

Pet food and treats, like many other types of food, can be contaminated with harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses. Although FDA continues our effort to reduce pet food contamination, pet owners should be mindful of the potential risks. You can lower your risk of getting a foodborne illness from contaminated pet food and treats by following these simple and safe handling instructions:

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. Refrigerating food quickly keeps most harmful bacteria from growing and multiplying. Refrigerators should be set at 40 F. Occasionally check the accuracy of the setting with a refrigerator thermometer.
  • Store dry pet food in a cool and dry place. The temperature should be under 80 F.
  • It’s best to store dry pet food in its original bag inside a clean plastic container with a lid. Use the container only for storing pet food. Also, keep the top of the bag folded down.
  • Keep pets away from areas where you prepare and store food.
  • Keep pets out of trash cans.

Raw Pet Food

FDA thinks that raw pet food poses significant health risks to pets and pet owners. However, we understand that some people prefer to feed raw pet food diets to their pets. To protect both yourself and your pet, we recommend you follow these safety tips when feeding raw meat, poultry, or seafood to your pet:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and hot water after handling raw meat, poultry, or seafood.
  • Keep raw meat and poultry products frozen until you are ready to use them.
  • Thaw raw meat and poultry products in your refrigerator or microwave, not on your countertop or in your sink.
  • Keep raw food separate from other food.
  • Thoroughly wash all surfaces, such as countertops; all utensils, such as cutting boards and knives; all bowls used to prepare and feed raw food; and all other items that come in contact with raw meat, poultry, and seafood with soap and hot water. Follow with a disinfectant. You can make an effective disinfectant solution by adding 1 tablespoon bleach to 1 quart (4 cups) water.
  • Cover and refrigerate leftovers immediately or throw them out safely.
  • If you use a plastic or other non-porous cutting board, run it through the dishwasher after each use.

Additional Information:


Page Last Updated: 07/12/2016
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