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FDA Fast Facts: FDA updates regarding investigation into link between pig ear pet treats and human cases of salmonellosis

For Immediate Release: July 31, 2019
Media Inquiries: Peter Cassell, 240-402-6537, peter.cassell@fda.hhs.gov
Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA

October 30, 2019 Update: According to the CDC, this outbreak appears to be over, as the rate of new human illnesses reports has slowed and returned to baseline levels. FDA continues to investigate and work with state partners to monitor the marketplace. FDA advises retailers who wish to introduce pig ear pet treats into the market to take appropriate steps to ensure that their suppliers are controlling for pathogens, and that products are not cross-contaminated after processing. FDA urges firms to remain vigilant about taking measures to control pathogens such as Salmonella, and to conduct regular assessments, including testing, to ensure the effectiveness of their processing and the safety of their products. Consumers who choose to feed pig ears should take caution to practice safe pet food handling. More information can be found in our Animal & Veterinary Outbreaks and Advisories update.

September 4, 2019 Update: FDA and CDC continue to advise consumers to avoid all pig ear pet treats and retailers to stop selling all pig ear treats at this time. On September 3, 2019, Dog Goods USA LLC announced an expanded recall, including all 30-packs of Berkley & Jensen brand pig ears sold at BJ’s Wholesale Club stores.

August 29, 2019 Update: FDA and CDC continue to advise consumers to avoid all pig ear pet treats and retailers to stop selling all pig ear treats at this time. Updates include new case information and one additional recall.

August 20, 2019 Update: FDA and CDC continue to advise consumers to avoid all pig ear pet treats and retailers to stop selling all pig ear treats at this time. On August 16, 2019, Dog Goods USA LLC recalled non-irradiated bulk and packaged Chef Toby Pig Ears.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is coordinating with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state agencies to investigate 127 human cases of salmonellosis related to several types of Salmonella with a suspected link to pig ear pet treats, some of which originated from Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia.

The FDA and CDC are advising consumers to avoid all pig ear pet treats and retailers to stop selling all pig ear treats at this time. In July, Lennox Intl Inc., a distributor of pig ear pet treats, recalled some of the treats involved in this outbreak. - Also in July, Pet Supplies Plus initiated a recall of bulk pig ears after samples tested by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development tested positive for Salmonella. On August 16, Dog Goods USA LLC announced a recall of non-irradiated bulk and packaged Chef Toby Pig Ears. On September 3, 2019, the firm announced an expanded recall, including all 30-packs of Berkley & Jensen brand pig ears sold at BJ’s Wholesale Club stores. On October 11, 2019, Hollywood Feed announced on their website a recall of Made in South America Brand bulk pig ear pet treats sold in their retail stores after the firm identified positive samples during a self-initiated audit. To date, FDA does not have sufficient data about the firm’s third-party test results to determine whether or not the Salmonella is connected to the current outbreak or linked to any human illnesses.

On August 22, the FDA updated Import Alert 72-03 to include three firms that presented pig ears for import that then tested positive for Salmonella: Custom Pet S.A.S (Colombia), Suarko SRL (Argentina), and Anabe Industria e Comercio de Proteinas (Brazil). On November 1, 2019, the FDA added Vitapet Comercial, Industrial e Exportadora Ltda (Brazil).

“The FDA takes seriously our responsibility to protect both human and animal health,” said Steven M. Solomon, D.V.M., M.P.H., director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. “Multiple products have tested positive for numerous types of Salmonella resulting in three company recalls to date. Given this and the links to human illness, we believe the most effective way to protect public health at this time is to warn consumers to avoid purchasing or feeding their pets all pig ear treats and for retailers not to sell these products. We also continue to advise those who may have come into contact with potentially contaminated products to practice safe hygiene, including thoroughly washing hands and disinfecting any surfaces that have touched pig ear pet treats. The FDA will provide additional updates as our investigation further progresses.”

Snapshots By the Numbers (as of 8/30/19)
For the most up-to-date data, see the FDA update related to this outbreak
Outbreak Investigation Summary
  • The FDA has traced back some of the pig ear treats associated with cases of illness to sources in Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia. Three firms have recalled their products. Samples of these treats have tested positive for Salmonella, and further testing is ongoing to identify the specific Salmonella fingerprint.
  • The FDA is working with affected firms to remove pig ear pet treats from the marketplace and identify places where they may have been distributed.
  • Testing has identified several Salmonella types in pig ear pet treats, including Salmonella enterica serotypes I 4,[5],12:i:-, Cerro, Derby, Infantis, London, Newport, and Rissen.
  • On July 3, Pet Supplies Plus notified the public about a recall of all bulk pig ear products supplied to all its retail locations by several different vendors, including Lennox Intl Inc.
  • On July 26, Lennox Intl Inc. issued a public notification about a recall of its products. On July 30, the firm expanded that recall and issued an additional public notification.
  • On August 16, Dog Goods USA LLC announced a recall of non-irradiated bulk and packaged Chef Toby Pig Ears. On September 3, the firm announced an expanded recall, including all 30-packs of Berkley & Jensen brand pig ears sold at BJ’s Wholesale Club stores.
  • On August 22, the FDA updated Import Alert 72-03 to include three firms that presented pig ears for import that then tested positive for Salmonella: Custom Pet S.A.S (Colombia), Suarko SRL (Argentina), and Anabe Industria e Comercio de Proteinas (Brazil).On November 1, 2019, the FDA added Vitapet Comercial, Industrial e Exportadora Ltda (Brazil).
  • On October 11, Hollywood Feed announced on their website a recall of Made in South American Brand bulk pig ear pet treats sold between January 2019 and October 2019 in their retail stores located in AL, AR, FL, GA, IN, KY, LA, MS, NC, OH, OK, SC, TN, and TX after the firm identified positive samples during a self-initiated audit of potential hazards involved with bulk product displays. Hollywood Feed has named Dog Goods USA as its supplier, but to date, FDA does not have sufficient data about the firm’s third-party test results to determine whether or not the Salmonella is connected to the current outbreak or linked to any human illnesses.
  • Two firms have recalled pig ear pet treats for contaminated with strains of Salmonella that are not linked to the current outbreak:
    • On August 27, Brutus & Barnaby recalled all varieties of their Pig Ear Natural Treats for Dogs.
    • On September 23, TDBBS, LLC announced a recall of USA Thick Pig Ear 8 packs and 20 packs sold through Amazon.com.

Advice for Consumers

  • 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 have pig ear treats, throw them away in a secure container where animals, including wildlife, cannot access it. Wash your hands thoroughly and disinfect any surfaces that have come into contact with potentially contaminated products.
  • In general, if you choose to feed treats like pig ears, practice good hygiene by: monitoring your pet while they have the treat, picking up the treat when they are done with it, keeping treats away from small children, cleaning the areas the treat contacted, washing hands, and not allowing your pet to lick you, your family members, or surfaces in your home.
  • Salmonella can affect both human and animal health. People with symptoms of Salmonella infection should consult their healthcare providers. Consult a veterinarian if your pet has symptoms of Salmonella infection.
Outbreak Investigation
  • CDC reports 143 people infected with the outbreak serotypes of Salmonella
  • Illnesses have been reported from 35 states: AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, HI, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, ME, MI, MN, MO, NC, ND, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OR, PA, SC, TX, UT, WA, WI, VA, and MD.
  • Cases date from 2015 to the present.
  • There have been 26 people hospitalized.
  • No deaths have been reported.

This is an ongoing investigation and the FDA will provide the public with new information as it becomes available. For more information on this investigation:

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The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines, and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.