UPDATE: FDA issued a Q&A for industry on 8/22/2019
Outbreaks are horrible, and we sympathize with the 127 individuals to date and their families that are suffering the effects of salmonellosis linked to pig ear pet treats and pets. At the same time, an industry is waiting for the US federal agencies to clarify their advisories and offer guidance on the safe processing of this product under preventive controls for animal food.
On July 31, 2019 CDC issued an outbreak update and advisory for consumers to not feed pig ear pet treats to pets and to discard any pig ear pet treats, and on that same date FDA advised consumers not to buy and retailers not to sell pig ear dog treats. At least some implicated pig ears originated in Argentina and Brazil. So, what does this mean to the U.S. companies that have been compliant with FDA’s Preventive Controls for Animal Food? FDA should clarify now as companies that are compliant, and families they employ, are being impacted.
Here are some suggestions for retailer and industry guidance:
Advise retailers they can purchase from any processor of Pig Ears that has been audited by FDA or state agencies to Preventive Controls for Animal Food, that has identified Salmonella in hazard analysis as a preventive control and that has validated that control.
Advise retailers to clean and sanitize all retail consumer display bins, cases, and transport vessels, where pig ears from multiple sources could be co-mingled and where actual canine presence (in stores) could impart risks.
State to industry that in lieu of having been audited by FDA / state agency, several post-packaging inactivation steps could be validated and applied to address the hazard.
Much like past blanket advisories to consumers not to eat leafy greens, this has impacted an entire industry, so its time for an update.