On Oct. 30, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the outbreak of Salmonella in the US, which affected 154 people across 34 states, has seemingly stopped as reports of the foodborne illness have slowed and returned to normal levels.

All 154 cases mentioned in the CDC’s investigation were tied to exposure to pig ear pet treats. Of those cases, 27 were children under the age of five and 35 overall were hospitalized because of the illness.

Several brands recalled these pig ear products after finding they tested positive for Salmonella, while other brands recalled the pig ear products without finding sources of contamination as a precaution.

The investigation began with an official recall on July 3 by Pet Supplies Plus of bulk pig ear products stocked in open bins at all its retail locations across 32 states.

On July 26, Lennox Intl Inc voluntarily recalled pig ear pet treats shipped across the US to distributors and retailers between May 1 and July 3, 2019, due to possible Salmonella contamination. The company expanded this recall on July 31 to include pig ear pet treats distributed between Nov. 1, 2018, and July 3, 2019.

Dog Goods USA LLC recalled several pig ear dog treat products on Aug. 16, then expanded that recall on Sept. 3 to include additional pig ear pet dog chew products. Brutus & Barnaby, a Clearwater, Florida-based dog treat company, announced a recall of its pig ear dog treats on Aug. 27. Finally, TDBBS recalled five lots of pig ear pet treats under its Best Bully Sticks brand “as a strictly precautionary measure.”

The investigation found that many illnesses were caused through contact with pig ear pet treats distributed by Lennox Intl Inc., which had sourced those products from Argentina and Brazil. Additionally, a product sample provided by Dog Goods USA LLC’s pig ear pet treat supplier, located in Brazil, tested positive for Salmonella.

Further traceback by FDA found that many of the people who became ill had encountered pig ear pet treats that were distributed by Lennox Intl Inc. Lennox reported that it sourced these pig ears from Argentina and Brazil. FDA worked with Lennox and other firms to identify the source of the pig ear treats and where they were distributed.

The FDA reported during the investigation that contaminated pet treats that were found to cause human illness were traced back to sources in Argentina, Brazil and Columbia.

Since the outbreak has slowed, the FDA and CDC said they “are no longer recommending that people avoid purchasing or feeding pig ear pet treats entirely.”

The report, released by the FDA indicating the outbreak has ended, states: “FDA advises retailers who wish to introduce pig ear pet treats into the market to take appropriate steps to ensure that their suppliers are controlling for pathogens, and that products are not cross-contaminated after processing. FDA urges firms to remain vigilant about taking measures to control pathogens such as Salmonella, and to conduct regular assessments, including testing, to ensure the effectiveness of their processing and the safety of their products. Consumers who choose to feed pig ears should take caution to practice safe pet food handling.”

Read the FDA’s official statement on the investigation between Salmonella and pig ear pet treats for more details.

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