Health officials are investigating a multi-state outbreak of salmonella infection in humans. The suspected cause? Pig ear dog treats.

Pig Ear Dog Treats Making Humans Sick? The FDA Is Investigating!


UPDATED: Sept 28, 2019

Health officials are warning pet parents to stay clear of pig ear dog treats, saying to avoid buying or feeding them. Plus, they’re urging retailers to stop selling these products. This comes in the midst of a multi-state outbreak of salmonella in humans. 


The Backstory

Back on July 3, 2019, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and State partners released a notice about their investigation into a suspected link between pig ear treats and human cases of salmonellosis.

They’ve since released several updates. Now, they’re reporting even more illnesses spanning across US states. 


People Affected By The Outbreak

The CDC is now reporting 143 cases of human infection with Salmonella.

  • Of 110 ill people with available information, 33 (30%) have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
  • 26 illnesses (20%) are among children younger than 5 years.

A List Of States

This outbreak is spreading across the United States, now spanning 35 states. Infections were reported in:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

Reported illnesses started on dates ranging from June 10, 2015 to July 30, 2019.


Must-Know Info From The CDC

“Health and regulatory officials from Connecticut, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and FDA collected pig ears from ill people’s homes, retail locations where ill people reported buying the products or from suppliers and distributors to those locations. Testing identified Salmonella in over 90 samples, with many different strains.”


“Some of the tested pig ears were imported from Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia. Some product labels indicated that the pig ears were irradiated; this process should kill Salmonella. Salmonella identified in products labeled as irradiated indicate they may not have been irradiated or there was another issue that led to Salmonella contamination.”


About Salmonella

Salmonella can affect both human and animals. 

Humans: People with salmonella infection can experience diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. Most people symptoms 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria. The infection usually lasts for 4-7 days and most people recover without treatment. However, for some people, diarrhea may be so severe that they need to be hospitalized. Young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness.

If you suspect you may have salmonella, contact your doctor immediately. According to the CDC:

“If antibiotics are needed, infections related to this outbreak may be difficult to treat with some commonly recommended antibiotics, and may require a different antibiotic choice.”

Animals: Additionally, if your pooch experiences similar symptoms then you are urged to call your vet immediately. 


Tips For Pet Parents 

  • Do not feed any pig ear to your dog.
  • If you have pig ear dog treats in your home, throw them away in a safe container so no pets or other animals can get them.
  • Always wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling pet meals and treats. This includes pig ears.
  • Clean items in your home that may have come into contact with contaminated pig ears — like floors. 
  • Did you know animals can actually shed the bacteria? That’s why it’s important to pick up and dispose of your dog’s poop in your yard and public parks where people or other animals may become exposed.
  • Children younger than 5 should not touch or eat dog food or treats, according to health officials.

Watch Out For Pig Ear Recalls

Right now, all retailers are being urged not to sell any pig ear pet treats. However, several companies have actually issued recalls for pig ear products because they might be contaminated with Salmonella.

  • On July 3, 2019, Pet Supplies Plus recalled bulk pig ears stocked in open bins because they might be contaminated with Salmonella.
  • On July 26, 2019, Lennox Intl Inc recalled pig ears because they might be contaminated with Salmonella.
    • A few days later, on July 30, 2019, Lennox Intl Inc expanded their recall for pig ears because they might be contaminated with Salmonella.
  • On August 16, Dog Goods USA LLC recalled external icon bulk and packaged Chef Toby Pig Ears.
  • On September 3, 2019, Dog Goods USA LLC recalled external icon all 30-packs of Berkley & Jensen brand pig ears sold at BJ’s Wholesale Club stores.
  • On September 20th, 2019, TDBBS of Richmond, VA, recalled a limited distribution of 2 pig ear pet treat products sold via Amazon.com.

Reporting Illness

This is an ongoing investigation. FDA officials encourage consumers to report complaints about pet food products electronically through the Safety Reporting Portal