Pets, peanut butter and salmonella: a cautionary tale

Editor’s Note: This column was originally published on and is reproduced here with the permission of the author.

Phyllis Entis

Between September 2008 and April 2009, 714 confirmed cases of Salmonella typhimurium were reported in the United States from contaminated peanut butter produced by the American Peanut Company. The outbreak claimed nine lives.

In addition to the casualties from contaminated peanut butter, the CDC reported a laboratory-confirmed case of Salmonella infection in a dog in a family in Oregon. A private laboratory recovered Salmonella strains similar to the outbreak strain from samples of Happy Tails multi-flavored dog biscuits.

Some cookies in the package contain peanut butter.

On January 23, 2009, just days after the dog became ill, Happy Tails cookies were recalled.

In another incident, a dog in Georgia died after being fed Austin peanut butter cookies. The cookies are one of a long list of products recalled in response to the salmonella outbreak.

Since 2009, peanut butter has been linked to several other Salmonella outbreaks and an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that has sickened 93 people and hospitalized 23.

Jif Peanut Butter Situation
CDC now reports 16 confirmed cases of Salmonella Senftenberg in 12 states. Two people have been hospitalized.

Ten of the 10 outbreak victims interviewed by state and local public health officials said they ate peanut butter in the week before they got sick. Nine out of ten people reported eating Jif peanut butter. The tenth victim did not know what brand of peanut butter he was eating.

On May 20, 2022, the recall of Jif peanut butter products has triggered at least 15 recalls in the United States by manufacturers who used the recalled product as an ingredient.

While no pet food or pet treats have been recalled to date, contaminated Jif peanut butter products still pose a risk to pets.

Many dog ​​owners use peanut butter-coated treat balls to keep their pets busy when they’re alone.

Others use peanut butter to make pills more palatable, or to appeal to the appetite of dogs who aren’t interested in food.

Although dogs are less prone to symptoms of Salmonella infection than humans, they can become asymptomatic carriers and shed the bacteria in their feces for several weeks after infection.

Keep yourself, your family and pets safe

  • If your pet has consumed one of the recalled Jif Peanut Butter products, be aware of symptoms of salmonellosis, including diarrhea, loss of appetite or vomiting, and take your pet to the veterinarian immediately if these symptoms occur. If possible, bring a fresh stool sample to the veterinary office and ask for a Salmonella test.
  • If your pet is showing symptoms of salmonellosis, take extra precautions, keep young children away, and be alert for signs of salmonellosis in household members.
  • Always wash your hands with soap and water immediately after handling any pet food or treats.
  • If possible, store pet food and treats away from human food storage or preparation, and away from young children.
  • Do not use your pet’s feeding bowl to scoop food. Use a clean special spoon, spoon or cup.
  • Always follow any storage instructions on the pet food bag or container.

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