Safe handling of commercially prepared pet food and pet treats


Commercially prepared pet food and treats have been recalled by manufacturers because of contamination with organisms such as Salmonella. Microorganisms may cause serious illness in the pets that eat them as well as in the people handling the food and treats. Animals that become infected after ingesting contaminated food may also pose a risk to the people with whom they come in contact. The people who are most at risk from these infections are the young, elderly, pregnant, and immune-compromised. Pet owners should take precautions to minimize the risk of illness from contaminated pet food and treats in their pets and themselves.


  • Purchase only products that are in good condition at the time of sale. Avoid packages that are damaged, such as dented cans or ripped and torn bags.


  • Wash hands for 20 seconds with clean running water and soap after handling pet food and treats.
  • Wash pet food bowls, dishes, and scooping utensils with hot, soapy water after each use.
  • Use a dedicated spoon or scoop to place pet food in the bowl - to avoid contaminating the pet food do NOT use the unwashed bowl as a scoop.


  • Promptly seal and refrigerate any unused or leftover wet or moist pet food in a refrigerator set at 40°F or below, or discard.
  • Leftover, refrigerated wet/moist food should be used as soon as possible and according to label directions.
  • Dry pet food and treats should be stored in a cool, dry place at less than 80°F.
  • If possible, store dry pet food in its original bag inside a clean, dedicated container with a lid—if the original bag is not used, save the part of the bag with the complete product name, date of manufacture, lot number, and expiration date or best-by date. This information is helpful in an investigation where contaminated pet food is suspected and can help avoid the use of out-of-date food.
  • Keep all pet food out of reach of very young children to avoid direct consumption.
  • Dispose of spoiled or old pet food properly by placing it in a securely tied plastic bag and place it in a covered trash receptacle to avoid other pets and wildlife from accessing the food.

Related resource

Recalls and safety alerts