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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, such as salmonellosis and listeriosis. Although FDA works hard to ensure food for all animals is safe, pet owners should be mindful of the potential risk of contamination. 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. Don’t buy the product if the packaging has 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 and measuring utensils with soap and hot water after each use.
  • Do not use your pet’s food bowl as a scooping or measuring utensil. Use a clean scoop, spoon, or cup instead and only use it for 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.

More safety tips for storing pet food and treats.

Raw Pet Food

FDA thinks that raw pet food poses significant health risks to both pets and pet owners. Because raw pet food is more likely than processed pet food to contain harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes, the single best thing you can do to prevent infection with these foodborne bacteria is to not feed your pet a raw diet. However, FDA understands that some people prefer to feed raw pet food diets to their pets. If you choose to feed raw pet food, you should be aware of the risks.

Additional Information


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