Over the course of Summer 2019, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, together with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and State partners, investigated a link between pig ear pet treats and human cases of Salmonellosis. As of October 30, 2019, CDC reported that this outbreak appears to be over, as the rate of new human illness reports has slowed and returned to baseline levels.
During the outbreak there were 154 cases of human Salmonella infection in 34 states that were tied to exposure to pig ear pet treats. CDC reported that many of these cases were multidrug-resistant. The 154 people infected ranged in age from 1 – 90 years, 27 cases were among children younger than 5 years, and 35 infected people were hospitalized.
The FDA has traced some of the pig ear treats associated with cases of illness to sources in Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia. Three U.S. firms associated with cases in the outbreak have recalled. Some of these treats have tested positive for Salmonella.
Based on the slowed rate of human illness reports, the FDA and CDC are no longer recommending that people avoid purchasing or feeding pig ear pet treats entirely. If you do choose to feed them, exercise caution and practice good hygiene to prevent human exposure by monitoring your pet while it has the treat, picking up the treat when your pet is done with it, keeping the treats away from small children, cleaning the areas the treat contacted, washing hands thoroughly after handling the treat, and not allowing your pet to lick people or surfaces in your home.
Although the outbreak appears to be over, FDA will continue to work with impacted firms to remove any contaminated pig ear pet treats from the marketplace and identify places where they may have been distributed. The agency will also continue to monitor the marketplace as product is introduced and will provide the public with any new information as it becomes available.
Read the full FDA Alert for more information on this topic, including what retailers need to do, what Salmonella is and its symptoms, and what to do if you suspect Salmonella infection in people and pets.