Contaminated Pig Ear Pet Treat Outbreak Appears to be Over, FDA and CDC Say
The outbreak of contaminated pig ear treats connected to human Salmonella infections appears to be over, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The two agencies began investigating the multi-state outbreak of Salmonella in June, and on July 3, issued a warning concerning the link between pig ear treats and human cases of salmonellosis. Pet retailers and distributors were also advised to stop selling pig ears due to the suspected link.
“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 officials said. “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.”
During the outbreak, there were 154 human cases of salmonellosis, according to the FDA. Many of these cases were multidrug-resistant, CDC officials reported. Breaking down the statistics: 35 people were hospitalized; ill people ranged in age from less than one year to 90 years old; and 27 illnesses were among children younger than 5 years.
Recalls of pig ear pet treats came from several companies over the course of the following months, including Lennox Intl Inc., a distributor in Edison, N.J.; Pet Supplies Plus, a chain with headquarters in Livonia, Mich.; Dog Goods USA LLC, a distributor in Tobyhanna, Pa.; and Brutus & Barnaby in Clearwater, Fla.
While the human cases were linked to pig ears imported from Argentina, Brazil and Colombia, these pig ears did not account for all the illnesses in this outbreak, FDA officials said.
“Pig ears in bulk bins (not packaged or wrapped) may be comingled from multiple sources, which does not allow the products to be distinguished,” officials said. “In addition, effective product irradiation may not have occurred for bulk products and for packaged or individually wrapped products.”
FDA officials said that they will continue to monitor the marketplace as product is introduced and will provide the public with any new information as it becomes available.