The U.S. Food and Drug Administration published consumer advice on Monday warning pet owners about their pets’ risk for contracting Salmonella or Listeria monocytogenes from raw food. “Feeding raw foods to pets increases the risk that both the pet and the people around the pet will encounter bacteria that cause foodborne illness, particularly if the products are not carefully handled and fed,” says William J. Burkholder, Veterinary Medical Officer in FDA’s Division of Animal Feeds. “This is certainly one factor that should be considered when selecting diets for your pet.” Because raw foods consists of meat, bones and organs that haven’t been cooked, they’re more likely to contain pathogens. FDA recommends cooking raw meat and poultry to kill these bacteria. In addition to sickening dogs and cats, raw food can sicken humans if handled improperly. When handling raw foods, consumers should wash their hands, and anything else that comes into contact with the product, with hot, soapy water for at least 20 seconds. In addition to the potential for cross-contamination, pets may become carriers of Salmonella even if they don’t get sick from ingesting the bacteria. They can then transfer the pathogen to surroundings, spreading contamination. “FDA does not believe feeding raw pet foods to animals is consistent with the goal of protecting the public from significant health risks,” states the agency’s consumer advice. Salmonella bacteria are commonly found in raw or undercooked meat, poultry and eggs. Salmonella can also contaminate raw fruits and vegetables and raw or unpasteurized milk and other dairy products. Symptoms of Salmonellosis in animals include vomiting, diarrhea (which may be bloody), fever, loss of appetite and decreased activity level. Listeria bacteria are commonly found in uncooked meats, vegetables and unpasteurized milk and soft cheeses. Unlike most bacteria, Listeria like cold temperatures and can grow and spread in the refrigerator. Symptoms of Listeriosis in animals include nausea, diarrhea and fever, and neurological disease can happen in a small percentage of situations.