Pig Ear Dog Treats Recalled Amid Salmonella Outbreak Investigation

July 09, 2019 - 10:24 am

DETROIT (WWJ) - Attention pet parents: This is a recall alert you'll want to read. 

With the recent announcement that the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating contaminated Pig Ear Treats connected to a Salmonella outbreak, Pet Supplies Plus has issued a recall for bulk pig ear products sold at all stores nationwide.

Bulk pig ears were stocked in open bins. Prepackaged branded pig ears are not included in the recall. Consumers who have purchased bulk pig ears should discontinue use of the product and discard it.

To date, 45 individuals in 13 states have been diagnosed with Salmonella related illness linked to pig ears. Although none of the cases are confirmed to be a result of purchasing pig ears from Pet Supplies Plus, testing by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development revealed that aging bulk pig ear products in one store tested positive for Salmonella (the location of that store was not provided).

The Investigation

The FDA is coordinating with the CDC to investigate a multistate outbreak of multidrug-resistant cases of human Salmonella infection with a suspected link to exposure to pig ear pet treats. 

As of July 2, a total of 45 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella have been reported from 13 states. Of those cases, seven are in Michigan. Other states included in the outbreak are California (1), Illinois (3), Indiana (3), Iowa (12), Kansas (3), Massachusetts (2), Missouri (3), New York (6), North Dakota (1), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (1), and Wisconsin (1).

Illnesses started on dates ranging from November 18, 2018, to June 13, 2019. Ill people range in age from less than 1 year to 81 years. Of 39 ill people with information available, 12 have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. Illnesses might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of two to four weeks.

Epidemiologic evidence indicates that contact with pig ear dog treats is the likely source of this outbreak. In interviews, 34 of 38 ill people reported contact with a dog before getting sick. Of 24 people with available information, 17 reported contact with pig ear dog treats or with dogs who were fed pig ear dog treats.

Officials from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development gathered pig ear dog treats at retail locations where ill people reported buying the products and sampled pig ears for Salmonella. Although the outbreak strain was not identified, other strains of Salmonella were. Investigators are checking to see if any human illnesses are linked to those strains. Retail locations where sampling occurred have removed pig ears from shelves.

A common supplier of pig ear dog treats has not been identified. 

Risk To Humans And Pets

Salmonella can affect animals eating the products and humans handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Individuals infected with Salmonella should monitor for the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

Some dogs may have Salmonella infection but may not look sick. Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, contact your veterinarian.

Advice To Dog Owners

Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after handling pet food or treats, including pig ears.

When possible, store pet food and treats away from where human food is stored or prepared and away from the reach of young children.

Don’t use your pet’s feeding bowl to scoop food. Use a clean, dedicated scoop, spoon, or cup.

Always follow any storage instructions on pet food bags or containers.

Don’t let your pet lick your mouth or face after it eats pet food or treats.

If you do play with your pet after it has just eaten, wash your hands and any part of your body it licked with soap and water.