Overgaauw noted that while the parasites are rendered harmless by freezing, bacteria are not, and that both posed a risk in home-prepared raw meat diets - not only to the pet but owners as well, either directly, as a result of cross-contamination of human food, or through exposure to pathogens shed by the animals. The study, led by Professor Paul Overgaauw from Utrecht University and published in the Vet Record, has found that raw meats can easily become contaminated with bacteria and parasites.
The team said the bugs risked the health of the animals themselves, as well as their owners.
It is reported that humans could encounter bacteria from raw foods in several ways, including direct with the food or with an infected pet; through with contaminated household surfaces; or by eating cross-contaminated human food.
But if you're feeding Mittens a raw meat diet because "it's so natural" and "just what her wild ancestors would have eaten", it looks like science may not be on your side.
A growing trend has seen pet owners plump for products such as meat, bones and organs which can be bought frozen and then thawed before being fed to dogs and cats.
They wrote: "The presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in RMBDs could therefore pose a serious risk to both animal health and public health - not only because infections with these bacteria are hard to treat, but also because of the potential of it contributing to a more widespread occurence of such bacteria".
Raw meat-based pet-food diets (sometimes referred to as RMBDs) have become increasingly popular around the world, the study authors wrote in their paper.
Things are probably better if you only purchase meat intended for human consumption, as the hygiene requirements for producing that are usually stricter than for the giblets, entrails, and other byproducts deemed suitable for raw pet food. More than half of the food had listeria species present, 20% contained salmonella and 23% had sarcocystis - a parasite that causes anorexia, nausea and abdominal pain. "I think that in the USA especially, owners are much more liking the convenience, and buy these products instead of preparing raw food on their own". "They think they are feeding dogs how they would eat in nature, like a wolf".
New research from Utrecht University in the Netherlands suggests that in addition to a lack of evidence for any health benefits, raw meat diets for pets can cause dental and gut injuries, growth problems, deficiencies in certain nutrients, and infection.