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: August 2, 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.

On July 31, 2019, health officials released an update. Now, they’re reporting even more illnesses spanning across the US states. 

People Affected By The Outbreak

The CDC is now reporting 127 cases of human infection with Salmonella — 26 people have been hospitalized. Of the illnesses, 24 (that’s 21%) are among children younger than 5 years old. No deaths have been reported at this time.

This outbreak is spreading across the United States, now spanning 33 states. Infections were reported in:

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

Photo via CDC

Reported illnesses started on dates ranging from June 16, 2015 to July 6, 2019.

A Statement From The CDC

“State health and regulatory officials in several states and the FDA have tested pig ear dog treats at various suppliers and identified many different strains of Salmonella. No single supplier, distributor or common brand of pig ear treats has been identified that could account for all the illnesses. This is why CDC and FDA are now advising people to not buy or feed any pig ear dog treats to pets.”

About Salmonella

Salmonella can affect both human and animal health. 

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.

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.

Reporting Illness

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