FDA and CDC Advises Retailers to Cease Selling Pig Ear Pet Treats
Officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are advising pet retailers and distributors to stop selling pig ears while they investigate the possible link between the pet treats and 127 human cases of salmonellosis.
Pet retailers and distributors are being advised by two government agencies to stop selling pig ears due to the suspected link between the pet treats and 127 recent human cases of salmonellosis, reported from 33 states. The agencies—the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC)—are also recommending that people avoid purchasing or feeding any pig ear pet treats at this time.
“The FDA takes seriously our responsibility to protect both human and animal health,” said Steven M. Solomon, DVM, director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. “Multiple products have tested positive for numerous types of Salmonella resulting in two 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.”
Those who have sold pig ears should wash and sanitize bulk bins, other storage containers and any surfaces (e.g., counters, displays, floors) that have come into contact with potentially contaminated products, FDA officials said in a statement.
“In addition, you should advise employees and customers to wash their hands after handling pet treats and food,” officials said. “Carefully dispose of pig ear pet treats in a secure container where animals, including wildlife, cannot access it. Alternatively, retailers who choose not to immediately dispose of pig ear pet treats should securely and safely store packaged product while they determine next steps.”
Lennox Intl Inc., a distributor of pig ear pet treats in Edison, N.J., announced a recall for some of its pig ear pet treat products on July 3, and then expanded the recall on July 30. The recalled products, as outlined in its latest company announcement, were shipped to nationwide distributors and/or retail stores from Nov. 1, 2018, to July 3, 2019.
The product comes in an 8-pack branded pouch under UPC 742174 995163, 742174994166 or packaged individually shrink wrapped under UPC 0385384810 and 742174P35107. All UPC codes are located on the front label of the package. Individually shrink-wrapped packages may be labelled with “Lennox” or without brand information.
Individually shrink-wrapped product tested by FDA tested positive for Salmonella, company officials said. Lennox’s pig ears are also sold bulk unwrapped, officials noted.
In its first company statement, Lennox officials said it was “aware of two cases of our pig ears that caused dog illnesses which may be related to the potential Salmonella contamination.” Its latest statement said that company officials are also “aware of cases of human illness related to an ongoing Salmonella outbreak in which several people identified Lennox pig eat treats as the brand they purchased.”
Pet Supplies Plus, a chain with headquarters in Livonia, Mich., has also advised consumers that it is recalling bulk pig ear products that were supplied to all locations by several different vendors due to the potential of Salmonella contamination. Bulk pig ears were distributed to Pet Supplies Plus stores in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and West Virginia. Bulk pig ears were stocked in open bins. Prepackaged branded pig ears are not included in this voluntary recall, according to officials from Pet Supplies Plus.
“Testing by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development revealed that aging bulk pig ear product in one of our stores tested positive for Salmonella,” company officials said in a statement. “We have pulled bulk pig ear product from the shelves at all of our stores and have stopped shipping bulk pig ears from our distribution center. We are working with the FDA as they continue their investigation as to what caused the reported Salmonella related illnesses.”
Salmonella can affect animals eating the product and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products which are solely for the consumption by dogs, according to FDA officials.
People who think their pets have become ill after consuming contaminated pet food should first contact their veterinarian, officials said. People who think they have symptoms of Salmonella infection should consult their health care provider, officials added.
FDA officials said it will release additional information about the investigation as it becomes available.