Six infants reported sick after pet foods recalled due to salmonella contamination

By Lisa Marie Basile | Fact-checked by Jessica Wrubel
Published November 17, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Several dog and cat foods manufactured by Mid America Pet Food have been recalled after being contaminated with Salmonella. 

  • Seven people in seven states have been reported sick. Six are infants. 

  • Healthcare providers say Salmonella infections can lead to diarrhea, fever, and stomach pain. While most infections are mild, some can be severe, requiring hospitalization. Pediatric dehydration is a key risk in children. Patients should be treated quickly.

A major Texas-based pet food manufacturer, Mid America Pet Food, is expanding a recall of several dog and cat food items due to potential Salmonella contamination, according to a November press release shared by the company.[]

The contaminated food items have already led to sickness in seven people across seven states—with at least six of them being infants, according to CBS News. The states include California, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Florida, Alabama, and Hawaii.[][][]

An initial voluntary recall in September involved just one lot of Victor Super Premium Dog Food, which came in a five-pound bag. That initial recall wasn’t linked to any reported illnesses in humans or pets, but the recall occurred because the food “has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella,” their press release reported.[] 

The problem persisted. On October 30, the company expanded the recall, pulling three lots of Victor Super Premium Dog Food, Select Beef Meal & Brown Rice Formula. “This voluntary recall was initiated after a third-party conducted random sampling and product associated with three lots tested positive for Salmonella,” the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) said.[]

Since then, the recall expanded again, with dozens of items made at the company’s Mount Pleasant facility being recalled. These items include, according to the company, “Victor Super Premium Dog Foods, Wayne Feeds Dog Food, Eagle Mountain Pet Food, and some Member’s Mark varieties with Best By Dates before 10/31/24.” A full product list is here. The pet foods are sold at distributors and retailers across the country. The items, again, were recalled “due to the products’ potential to be contaminated with Salmonella,” the press release states.[] 

As of November 9, the FDA notes that they are “investigating seven human cases of Salmonella Kiambu infection potentially associated with pet food made by Mid America Pet Food.”[]

How did the patients get sick? The World Health Organization (WHO) says that “Salmonella can pass through the entire food chain from animal feed, primary production, and all the way to households or food-service establishments and institutions.”[] 

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reported that people who had gotten sick with salmonellosis in this outbreak likely touched the recalled foot or the bowls it was placed into. Further, patients may have touched the feces or saliva from the dogs who had consumed the food.[] 

For patients who may have Mid America Pet Food at home, the FDA recommends consumers do the following: “Clean and disinfect all pet supplies, including all storage containers, bowls, utensils, food prep surfaces, pet bedding, litter boxes, toys, floors, and any other surfaces that the food or pet may have had contact with. Clean up the pet’s feces in places where people or other animals may become exposed. Consumers should thoroughly wash their hands after handling the product or cleaning up potentially contaminated items and surfaces.”

What you need to know about possible contamination

Salmonella kiambu is just one of many serotypes of Salmonella enterica. 

According to Praveen Guntipalli, MD, founder of Sanjiva Medical Spa located in Dallas, TX, Salmonella infections (known as salmonellosis) typically lead to diarrhea, fever, and stomach pain. There are an estimated 1.35 million salmonellosis infections annually in the United States alone. [] []

Daniel Ganjian, MD, FAAP, board-certified pediatrician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA, adds that symptoms range from mild to severe, with most cases being mild. However, Dr. Ganjian says, “In children, the effects can be particularly concerning due to their vulnerable immune systems.”[] 

Pediatric dehydration is one major risk—which could have affected the infants who’d contracted Salmonella from the brand’s pet foods. Dr. Ganjian says that severe salmonellosis can lead to hospitalization.[]

Treatment, he says, should focus on rehydration to counteract fluid loss caused by diarrhea and vomiting. “Intravenous fluids may be necessary in severe cases, while antibiotics are generally reserved for severe infections or complications,” Dr. Ganjian says. 

Accurate diagnosis of Salmonella is key, Dr. Ganjian adds. You’ll want to use laboratory testing—typically a stool sample analysis. “[Stool samples] allow healthcare professionals to identify the specific strain of Salmonella and tailor treatment accordingly,” he says. Suspected patient cases of Salmonella should be tested and treated rapidly since untreated salmonellosis can lead to prolonged illness and even possibly long-term complications, he adds. 

Preventing Salmonella can be tricky if you aren’t sure if something is contaminated, but patients should be taught effective preventative measures regardless, Dr. Guntipalli says. “Thorough cooking of meats, and good hygiene practices” are key. Healthcare practitioners should aim to educate parents and caregivers on these measures. “Prevention is better than a cure for safeguarding children's health,” he stresses. 

According to Food Safety News, pets can also contract salmonellosis, leading to lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting, decreased appetite, and abdominal pain—although a pet may not have all of the above symptoms at once. If your patients have bought this pet food for their household, it must be destroyed “in a way that children, pets, and wildlife cannot access,” they state.[]

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