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  • Mandy Tam 6:29 pm on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Meat safety, , pets   

    (Meat) Pet Food Safety is As Important As Human Food Safety 

    Cute Cat

    Surprise! Human is not the only species on earth that consume meat. Cats and dogs we have at home consume meats as well. As raising pets in the family become more and more popular, pet food becomes a high demand in the market. Industrialization comes along and a lot of companies try to lower their price by using many different methods.


    Chemical Structure of Melamine Cyanurate


    One of the method was to lowering the protein content by substituting meat with wheat gluten. Wheat gluten itself does not cause any harm to animals, however, the additional of melamine and cyanuric acid does. Melamine contains 66% nitrogen and it is used for plastic production (Suchy et al., 2009). Cyanuric acid is a bleaching agent and it contains non-protein nitrogen like melamine (Suchy et al., 2009). The combination of melamine and cyanuric acid forms melamine cyanurate and it is an insoluble compound that can block renal function (Suchy et al., 2009). Eventually, it causes renal failure in animals and eventually death (Suchy et al., 2009).


    At late 2006 and early 2007, gluten suppliers in China decided to add melamine and cyanuric acid into the wheat gluten to higher the nitrogen value (FDA, 2009). Most protein analyses were based on amount of nitrogen in sample so a higher nitrogen value could trick buyers by claiming a high protein value for their product (FDA, 2009). Buyers would not know that they were buying wheat gluten with non-protein nitrogen chemicals like melamine and cyanuric if the chemicals were not listed out. Pet food companies purchased the wheat gluten and added into their pet food products without knowing the danger of it (FDA, 2009).


    “cut and gravy” style pet food


    In many affected brands, Menu Foods Limited had the highest impact. Menu Foods Limited was a company based in Canada and it sold pet foods across Canada and United State (Smith, 2007). The company “cut and gravy” style pet food was first reported to cause renal failure and death (FDA, 2009). It was also the first company began to recall and had the largest recall in comparison with other companies (Smith, 2007).
    Although there were 8500 animal deaths reported to FDA in related to this incident, there were no specific number of affected animals according to FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) because of lack of surveillance network (FDA, 2009; Heavey, 2007).


    After the incident, FDA developed a network called Pet Event Tracking Network (PETNet) to improve surveillance (Dangin et al., 2015). The database allows FDA and state agencies to share information about potential outbreaks and pet-food related incidents instantaneously (Dangin et al., 2015). The system was finally finalized at 2011 (Dangin et al., 2015). You might think surveillance would improve after this tragedy, however, nothing has really changed.



    Jerky Dog Treat That Required to Be Recall at 2015


    In September 2015, a jerky dog treat has reportedly contaminated with amantadine and required to be recall (FDA, 2015a) . Amantadine is an antiviral drug to treat Parkinson’s disease (FDA, 2015b). Certain farms and plants used it to treat avian flu (FDA, 2015b). Although it is allowed to use as a medication for animal in certain countries, it is not approve to be in pet food in the U.S. (FDA, 2015b). This is not the first time that happen in human history. In 2014, there were more than 4800 complaints in regarded of jerky pet treats (Desk, 2014; FDA, 2015b). More than 1000 dogs were reportedly dead because of jerky pet treats from China (Desk, 2014; FDA, 2015b). Although there is no definite correlation with amantadine and the 2014 incident, it is one of the potential cause (Desk, 2014). In term of the source of illness, it is still unknown according to a report given out by FDA in February 2015 (FDA, 2015b). Moreover, complaints in regard of jerky pet treat is still continuing in 2015 (FDA, 2015b).


    Dogs and cats cannot choose what they eat. Human have a great responsibility on what they provide to their pets. In 2015, nothing has really improved in term of pet food safety. In the future, we should really make sure that no more poor animals are dead because of our greediness; therefore, we should continue to improve our regulations and surveillance program to protect them.





    1. View on the incidents
    2. Do you think people are simply over reacting or should there be more regulation?
    3. Is globalization good for the food industry or not?


    Here is a news report summarizing what happen at 2007:


    Here is a news report about jerky pet treat:


    Dangin, A., Murphy, J., & Melluso, C. (2015, October 5). PETNet: An Information Exchange for Pet Food Related Incidents. Retrieved November 30, 2015, from http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/Products/AnimalFoodFeeds/PetFood/ucm278278.htm

    Desk, N. (2014, May 20). FDA Update: 1000+ Dog Deaths Potentially Linked to Chinese Jerky Treats. Food Safety News.
    FDA. (2009, October 7). Melamine Pet Food Recall – Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved December 2, 2015, from http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/RecallsWithdrawals/ucm129932.htm

    FDA. (2015a, September 23). Enforcement Report – Week of September 23, 2015. Retrieved December 2, 2015, from http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/enforcement/enforce_rpt-Product-Tabs.cfm?action=select&recall_number=V-261-2015&w=09232015&lang=eng

    FDA. (2015b, February 19). FDA Issues Update on Jerky Pet Treat Investigation. Retrieved December 2, 2015, from http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/NewsEvents/CVMUpdates/ucm434865.htm
    Heavey, S. (2007, May 4). U.S. petfood recall widens on cross-contamination. Thomson Reuters.
    Smith, J. (2007, March 16). Huge pet food recall launched. Toronto Star.
    Suchý P, Straková E, Herzig I, Staňa J, Kalusová R, Pospíchalová M. Toxicological risk of melamine and cyanuric acid in food and feed.Interdisciplinary Toxicology. 2009;2(2):55-59. doi:10.2478/v10102-009-0010-6

    • Winston Liang 7:56 pm on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I remember a couple years ago, the government is taking my initiatives on ensuring consumers are more aware on whats coming into the country – including proper labeling. Do you think enough is being done? What opinions do you have to the government or consumers to ensure more transparency of what is going into our pets mouths?

    • Jasmine Lee 11:14 pm on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It is terrible to hear that a few pet food manufacturers are only concerned about lowering costs and maximizing profits. They are not considering any repercussions that may result from substitution with ingredients of lower value, even if the product is intended for pet consumption. Additionally, this matter may be worrisome for some members of the human community. I have read that a few individuals consume pet food as part of their diet for the purpose of losing weight or to gain nutrition due to the unaffordability of what is generally accepted as “human food”. These vulnerable individuals will be unknowingly exposed to these harmful substances as they are solely relying on the package labels. I agree that there is an urgent need for better regulations and surveillance programs of pet food quality.

    • elaine chan 1:03 am on December 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      A nice take on this food blog by talking about animals as victims from consuming food products! I agree with Jasmine’s comment above, it’s certainly disheartening to hear that there are companies out there, that are willing trading their soul for some extra money. The purchasers of this gluten product, and the customers of the pet food products are definitely innocent victims. More specifically, the purchasers ordered this product thinking that it will supply the stated about of nitrogen, so it can meet the consumers’ requirements and produce a nutritious product. And on the customer’s end, they purchased the pet food hoping that it would provide the nutritional value required by their pets. In a situation like this, it’s definitely hard for customers to determine what’s best for their pets because they can only know so much about a product by reading the label. However, on the purchaser’s end, hopefully they can implement more strict raw material testing procedures to help ensure that their final products are safe for consumption by pets.

    • Jenny T 9:36 am on December 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Very informative piece Mandy! This topic on pet food and safety is rarely talked about but is equally important for pet owners to know. This reminded me of the baby formula incident a while back, but pet versoon. Both the pet owners and pets are the victims here because as much as we all want to choose the best product, we place our trust in the FDA and the manufacturers to do their jobs right and ethically. What is worse is that pets won’t be able to tell us what is wrong until it might be too late and they are so reliant on us. I hope the PETNet proves to be effective and FDA does more thorough testing in preventing further incidents like this. Thanks for making us more aware of this issue with this post!

    • ColleenChong 12:51 pm on December 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you for sharing this information. I also remember the incident in china where melamine was added in to baby milk formulas, which caused many health problems to infants. Similar to this incident the compound was added in to the formula to increase the protein content to add value to the product. I agree with Jenny how pet food safety is not considered as important in public. Before reading this blog post I was no aware that this also happens in the pet food industry. I think government regulatory organizations needs to be more proactive in pet food inspection to prevent any alternation of foods that is deemed unsafe to the consumers.

    • dgozali 6:29 pm on December 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Its so sad to hear that pet food safety is not a topic that has been widely discussed or treated as seriously as human food safety. As i have pets myself, I can really identify with this issue as I would try to look up the nutritional content on pet food packages to make sure that the food is healthy for my own pets. I definitely think that it is worth it to create more regulations in order to prevent pet food manufacturers from adding dangerous ingredients. Especially since there are so many pet owners out there and lots of people who support animal welfare causes, they would greatly support the implementation of more regulations to ensure pet/animal safety.

    • Silvia Low 4:07 pm on December 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I had a close encounter with contaminated pet food products before! My sister had purchased a bag of treats for our dog in the past (which he loved) and when he finished it, she asked me to go buy another bag of it. So i went to the store and looked all over for it but couldn’t find it. I asked the sales associate and they said they didn’t sell the brand but that was strange because my sister had bought it from the same store. What i did next is what everyone does… i googled it. And i found out that there was a massive recall on the product just a couple months back because the product was contaminated in the factories they originated from in China. So my dog may have consumed the same contaminated products without us even knowing! But he turned out okay so I’m happy. 🙂

    • cheryl lau 3:12 pm on December 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Great article! As a cat owner, the content of this article is very disconcerting. I agree that it is up to us pet owners to determine if the food is safe for our pets to consume. However, I also think it is important for pet food producers to do their own testing on their raw materials as well. After this incident, I assume that the pet food company has reassessed their procedures on approving suppliers. Although it is quite common in the food industry to choose cheaper raw materials and sacrifice the quality, the consequences can sometimes be very severe, as shown in this article. The protein supplier may have wanted to lower the costs as profit margins are quite low for raw material suppliers, but there are other less harmful ways to do so.

    • AngeliMalimban 9:28 pm on December 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This definitely hits close to home since I have my little dog at home, who just loves to eat everything and anything. I think a lot of companies and people do not realize that what is bad for us is [most likely] bad for dogs, and that there are so many things that we consume that are not good for them either! There definitely should be more regulation for pet food… it really does surprise me that they are only doing something about it now and it was only recently finalized. It sickens me that the companies would add more nitrogen to trick the people into getting more protein… just because it has a higher nitrogen content does not mean the proteins are complete or good for the dog (or even just protein in general). I hope pet owners are smarter than that to believe those tricks. I definitely should check out the ingredients on the label, especially since my dog is becoming old.

    • DeniseZhang 7:08 pm on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I was quite surprised by these contaminated pet foods cases. I haven’t heard of any related cases before. I do believe we need to pay the same amount of attention on these pets foods, as we live with our pets and there might be a chance that these contaminated pet foods can affect human beings as well. After reading above comments, as an animal lover, I can’t believe this issue was that close to us. I hope officials can work on improving surveillance on pet foods and even farm animal feeds in the future.

    • Ya Gao 11:19 pm on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This is a tragedy to see. I personally have two dogs accompanying me. When I tried to buy treats for them from Amazon, I saw those comments about avoiding dog foods from China at all cost. I didn’t look into specific details until now I know. It is such a pain to see people putting someone else’s pets on danger for money. Because for us, as pet owners, they are part of the family. What I saw in the article above is not just number, I saw heart broken families who lost their beloved family members. This is not one of food borne outbreaks that are sometimes unpredictable. This is an intentional crime!!! The company that added chemicals to pet foods that are known to cause harm on animals should pay for this.

    • MichelleLui 10:35 pm on December 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I agree there are much improvement needed in regulating the pet food. Many pet owners now read the nutrition label for wholesome ingredients or choose reputable brand. Some even cook for their pets. Consumers will have to voice out their concern when it comes to the food safety of pet food. Pet food industry will need to work on controlling the quality and food safety of the ingredients. They need to come from an approved source (e.g. federally registered meat establishment) with certificate of analysis (e.g. heavy metals, pathogens).

  • amreenj 3:00 pm on November 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Expired, Fast Food, , Meat safety, Scandal   


    In July 2014, the parent company of Shanghai’s Husi Foods, OSI Group LLC., recalled all products made by its Shanghai unit as reports arose regarding the quality of their meat and poultry. Investigators suggest that Shanghai Husi Foods, has been selling beef, chicken and pork beyond their expiration date, by repackaging them as freshly packaged products. This isn’t the first time OSI has found themselves in hot water, with similar allegations being brought forward regarding a U.S. based plant by a former employee.

    Shanghai Husi Foods - China

    Shanghai Husi Foods – China

    OSI is the major distributor of meats to large international corporations such as McDonalds, YUM! Brands Inc. (KFC/ Pizza Hut), and Starbucks Corporation.

    Considering that there are approximately 2000 McDonalds restaurants in China alone, serving thousands daily, the potential impact of this lapse in food safety, could be catastrophic. Michael B. Griffiths, a Shanghai –based qualitative research director at TNS China Co. fears that “this recall may spoil any remaining goodwill consumers have for fast –food restaurants.” According to distributors McDonalds restaurants in Hong Kong and Shanghai are serving a “limited menu” of fish burgers, having pulled Chicken McNuggets, the McSpicy Chicken Filet, and grilled chicken salads off the menu, as these products may contain expired and/ or contaminated meats.

    Although no illnesses have been reported, Yum! Brands Inc. will no longer do business with OSI in China, USA and Australia. A McDonalds spokes person also stated that the have stopped sourcing products from Shanghai Husi Foods. The company is in the process of conducting a thorough internal investigation into the possible failures that may have occurred.

    The consequences of meat production failures can be severe and are highly dependent on practices that occur at the processor, distributor, retail, and consumer levels. Failure at any level is unacceptable and can lead to significant economic and health consequences especially in foods with a limited shelf life.

    The date marking requirement is put in place and strictly enforced due to the potential of pathogenic organisms to grow at refrigerated temperatures including, Listeria monocytogenes and Yersinia enterocoloctica. Other microbiological contaminates include: Campylobacter spp., E.coli O157, VTEC, Salmonella , and BSE. These pathogenic bacteria can cause illness with symptoms including but not limited to: diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea, highlighting the importance that the date of expiration be accurate.

    Meat Safety Video

    According to the CDC, businesses should check for the following when receiving fresh meats:

    1. Check that the vehicle is clean and temperature controlled

    2. Check that the meat products are held at the appropriate temperature (41 degrees Fahrenheit)

    3. Reject deliveries if: there is evidence of temperature abuse, off odour or colour, or if meats have a slimy/ sticky texture

    OSI Group LLC, is a United States based company with 55 manufacturing plants in over 16 different countries. With the globalization of the food supply market, it is becoming increasingly prevalent for major corporations to obtain their products from outsourced processors and distributors. With this in mind, consumers and retailers must be cautious when purchasing meats and should only do so from trusted distributors. Furthermore, it is important to know WHERE in fact these products are coming from such that in case of an outbreak, measures are in place that, allow retailers to retrace their steps.

    The bottom line…

    Regardless of the date of expiration on these products, consumers (including those that are commercial) should ALWAYS check for signs of spoilage and take the appropriate measures to ensure that these products are discarded.

    For more information regarding Food Safety, feel free to check out: http://www.cdc.gov/features/befoodsafe/

    Works Cited
    Bora, K., International Business Times ( 2014). http://www.ibtimes.com/china-food-scandal-osi-group-recalls-shanghai-husi-made-meat-brings-new-management-team-1640430
    Bloomberg News. (2014)http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-07-28/mcdonald-s-supplier-recalls-meat-in-expired-food-scandal
    Centre for Disease Control. (2015). Food Safety Training. http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp/training/videos/presentations/foodprot.pdf
    Center for Disease Control (2015). Fighting Bacteria http://www.fightbac.org/food-poisoning/causes-symptoms/
    Kansas State – Meat Safety Video (2015). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qced9Du_3gc
    Wang, S. (2015). Lecture 14 : Meat Safety. FNH 413 Food Safety

    • ColleenChong 5:55 pm on November 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Amereenj thank for sharing this scandal. It’s surprising how such a big company would do something like this, which not only caused a huge loss in profit for the company but most importantly their established reputation they once had is ruined. This topic is controversial and I think it is wrong that the company is repackaging meat and selling them as “fresh” products. It can cause issues such as bacterial/pathogenic growth since it is not monitored. Although meat products has been kept beyond their expired date I think the raw meat products should be tested to see if it is still safe. If it is then meat can be incorporated in ready-to-eat processing plants because they will be further treated by heat to reduce the wastage of food. However, the meat products should not be repackaged and placed back on to shelf without processing because the untreated meat may still pathogenic bacteria to grow if present. I the company needs to find the people who are responsible for this action and give an apology to the public.

    • TamaraRitchie 8:58 am on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Repackaging meat and selling it as fresh is ethically wrong. I do think that best before dates are put in place for consumers to safely consume meats without any chance of spoilage, therefore there are days after the best before date when meat is still safe to eat. I agree with Colleen that if meat still is safe it should be incorporated back into ready to eat products as they will been cooked properly at the processing plants. It seems like this could be an issue due to cost, companies like Mcdonalds etc are paying very little for their meat products in order to keep their cost down as well. Makes you wonder what other corners they may be cutting.

    • NorrisHuang 4:59 pm on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I have heard about this before and I remember in addition to repacking the meat, there was also a video about how the staff in that company picked up meat which dropped onto the floor accidentally and put it back to the production line. They also ground up the defect products with the normal ones and sell them as one. And I believe repacking meat happened in Canadian supermarket (lobslaw) as well that staff in the supermarket dipped the meat in blood to make it look “fresh”. These news are horrible but I guess as consumers we have to always be on alert when purchasing and make smart choices. Stricter government regulations should also be in place.

    • elaine chan 1:57 am on December 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      What a scandal! With situations like this, it makes it harder for the general public to maintain trust on the food industry. I can see how it can be more cost efficient for the company to resell their meat like this; however, I don’t feel that it is ethical to do so, esp when the products are way past its expiration date. It’s fortunate for them that there hasn’t been any reported illnesses related to this incident, but as mentioned in the article, if the environmental conditions allowed pathogen growth, the situation could have gotten a lot more serious, impacting the health of many individuals. I think it is a good idea to reduce food waste, so like Colleen mentioned, if the product has been tested to ensure that it’s still safe for consumption, it is okay for resale, but not to be labelled as ‘fresh’, because realistically speaking, that’s a lie.

    • flyingsquirrel 10:54 am on December 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This actually makes me think of the grocery stores here in how they display their food. Although they don’t market their meat as ‘fresh’ like what this company did, does anyone notice that sometimes they hide the soon-to-expire meat in between fresh meat in the package? For example, I once went to buy ground beef and found that under the layers of new meat, I found browning meat that needed to be cooked quickly or else the whole package would spoil. It is technically not expired but this kind of practice is potentially risky. I understand that food waste and cost is a concern as food quality demand goes up, however it would be nice to be transparent and at least notify consumers and sell at a reduced price instead of manipulating information to sell expired goods for the sake of profit. In the long run, good trust (between consumers and companies) makes good business. It’s very unfortunate that this company has lost many big contracts and potential buyers. I hope this event will serve as a good wake up call to producers and buyers when it comes to deciding what gets put on the shelf for what price.

    • FeliciaYuwono 2:23 pm on December 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Wow, what surprises me is that this probably a global phenomenon, if I could say it that way. I’m from Southeast Asia and when I first came here, I thought I could at least lay more trust on the system, but apparently I’m now just as worried as I was before. Just a few days ago, my friend showed me a video of CBC Marketplace about grocery stores cheating on expiry dates on bakery products and meat products, and it really suggests that some people only care about financial profits because there is no incentive on maintaining consumer safety (at least in the short run). The problem is that the way we live right now makes it inconvenient to not shop at grocery stores which provides one-stop-shopping for everything we need — so if you suspect that the meat you bought is tampered, the best way is to cook it thoroughly out of the danger zone temperature. Here is a helpful chart of meat cooking temperature from Health Canada: http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/eating-nutrition/healthy-eating-saine-alimentation/safety-salubrite/tips-conseils/cook-temperatures-cuisson-tbl-eng.php

      Here are some links if you’d like to read more:

    • Leigh Renwick 8:00 pm on December 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This is a great article; an important reminder that we should always approach buying meat with cation. Looking for signs of spoilage is important. Too often we take meat that we buy at restaurants for granted as being safe for consumption. I’m surprised that a company would think that they could get away with something like that! Truly despicable.

    • Anisha Parmar 9:20 pm on December 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This is so disgusting and I agree with so many of the comments above. This is ethically wrong and makes me think what other companies are doing this.

    • Tanzil Mulji 9:31 pm on December 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This makes me curious about how many other companies in the meat industry are using similar practises. And also makes me want to consider never eating meat again.

    • Zeeshan Somji 9:46 pm on December 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      What an insightful article! Really makes you reconsider all of the “food” we are putting into our bodies every day.

    • Jalila Devji 9:56 pm on December 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      That’s really disappointing! You would hope that when you go to places like this the least you can expect is your food to be safe! I guess the best thing to do really is to be more mindful of what we’re eating and check for signs of spoilage ourselves. Thank for this great eye opening article!

    • Kiely Landrigan 10:36 pm on December 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It is interesting to consider the food safe practices of large chain restaurants such as McDonalds and Starbucks. Is it more the responsibility of the manager of the branch (who often will be a relatively under trained staffer that has just been around long enough) or the corporation to ensure food safe practices? Good article to get you thinking!

    • Gurinder Cheema 1:05 am on December 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This is a great article! It’s scary to think of this happening, especially since I normally wouldn’t think anything was wrong with food before its expiry date. It really makes you question how much you can trust our food industry. Thanks for bringing awareness to this scandal.

    • meggyli 12:16 am on December 5, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This is a great article! China has always been popular, or in this case, unpopular for their reputation of producing and selling sub-par or even downright unsafe food items. As a Chinese I’m embarrassed to say this article just barely scratches the surface of the atrocities of what is going on over there, such as sewage oil, and pork that has been injected with water, to name a few. Judging by the population and the popularity of MacDonald’s and Starbucks in China, it’s a miracle that no sicknesses have been reported so far. This really makes us question what is really safe out there for consumption.

    • YaoWang 11:19 pm on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I knew about this scandal when I was in China for my summer break last year. Every day, I read about it in newspapers, watched about it on TV and heard people talking about it almost everywhere. Chinese people were really disappointed about this, we even tried to avoid dining out for some time because you never know if there are other companies doing the same thing without being caught. I just hope the government and the official media will look more into the food industry in China.

  • TamaraRitchie 10:34 am on November 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Ebola, , , Meat safety, reservoir   

    Should we add Ebola to the List of Foodborne Pathogens? 

    In developed countries the threat of contracting Ebola from food sources is null, but in areas of Africa it is a real threat. Throughout late 2014 and early 2015, Ebola was widely publicized as the virus moved from Africa to the United States although Ebola has been a constant problem in Africa for years. 


    Ebola Virus

    Ebola is a virus that is generally spread by direct contact with body fluids or blood of an infected person, but in Africa it may also be spread while consuming, hunting or preparing Bushmeat. Bushmeat is an umbrella term that groups together meat from wild animals such as bats, antelope, rats, monkeys and other nonhuman primates.The main reservoir of the virus appears to be fruit bats. It is either through the consumption of fruit bats, or cross contamination between fruit bat droppings and other bushmeat animals that causes Ebola to be transmitted through food.

    Bushmeats are main sources of food for some and often seen a treat for others at markets and roadside stands. These types of meats are usually dried, salted or smoked in the open African heat alongside other butchered animals. This is a breeding ground for other bacteria and cross contamination can easily occur with other bacteria of concern such as E. Coli and Salmonella. The consequences of Ebola are high, one strain tied back to fruit bats in the Congo area found that 40% of infected patients died. Ebola causes hemorrhagic fever, headaches and can result in death. 

    Ebola can be destroyed by heating to 60 degree Celsius for 60 minutes or at higher temperatures of 72-80 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes according to the CDC. While heating Ebola has been found to inactivate and destroy the virus there is still the issue of cross contamination, as seen in the following picture the spaces used to cook and prepare the meat appear unhygienic and less than ideal. It is also difficult to know if the meats have been cooked to the proper temperatures as most would not have access to thermometers. The ones that are at highest risk of contracting the virus from animals are those who are hunting and gathering these animals as many are bitten or scratched or come in contact with blood during these processes.


    Varying smoked bushmeats at a market

    The likelihood of contracting the disease from human contact is much higher than from bushmeats. Hundreds of thousands of varying types of bushmeat are consumed annually throughout Africa and this will likely continue as it is a source of nutrition and part of their culture. It is recommended that steps be taken while hunting and gathering to reduce infection such as avoiding blood and fluids from animals, wearing gloves, not consuming predeceased animals and keeping raw foods away from cooked. These steps will not eradicate all cases of Ebola in Africa but it may help decrease the amount of outbreaks.

    If you would like to learn more please watch the video below.



    DRC: Bushmeat blamed for Ebola outbreak. (2012, August 23). Retrieved November 11, 2015, from http://www.irinnews.org/report/96160/drc-bushmeat-blamed-for-ebola-outbreak

    Hogenboom, M. (2014, October 19). Ebola: Is bushmeat behind the outbreak? – BBC News. Retrieved November 11, 2015, from http://www.bbc.com/news/health-29604204

    Information on the Survivability of the Ebola Virus in Medical Waste. (2015, February 12). Retrieved November 11, 2015, from http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/healthcare-us/cleaning/ebola-virus-survivability.html

    MacNeil, A. (2010, December 1). Proportion of Deaths and Clinical Features in Bundibugyo Ebola Virus Infection, Uganda – Volume 16, Number 12-December 2010 – Emerging Infectious Disease journal – CDC. Retrieved November 11, 2015, from http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/16/12/10-0627_article


    • kathykim 4:13 pm on November 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Tamara, I did not expect that ebola would be termed as a food-borne pathogen, but thinking about it, it is!. The main source of disease infection I heard from news was that Africans eat raw bat meats and drink their blood, and this is their cultural practice of diet. Also, when people die of ebola, Africans contact with the dead body which is also a part of their funeral culture.. I think such cultural factors have been risk factors for the transmission of ebola. I wonder though, why ebola has occured just recently, when such cultural practices were still done in the past.

    • laurenrappaport 1:28 pm on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Its interesting to hear that the original source of Ebola is from animals. Over the past year or so, all we’ve been hearing about in the news is how infectious it is between humans ignoring the fact that the initial contamination is from something we may consume. Although these types of foods are not commonly consumed here in North America, with all the travel and trade it has become of major concern. Its funny that we have only recently started hearing about Ebola issues when this has been going on in Africa for many years. However, only recently when people in North America and Europe have become infected is when this issue has been brought to the news.

    • wen liao 3:53 pm on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This is an interesting article. This term I am taking a virology course and currently we are discussing about the Ebola virus (EBOV). Relating to this article, the 2014 EBOV epidemic is actually initiated due to the consumption of bats, as bats are asymptomatic of EBOV. Fortunately for us, vaccines are available now for EBOV (and it was initially designed by the National Microbiology Lab of Canada in Winnipeg. YEAHHHH). This vaccine is under review now and it has shown great efficacy against EBOV infection. Furthermore, this vaccine can be mass produced by engineering tobacco plants so that it can be produced on site in African.
      Personally, I do not think EBOV should be considered as a foodborne pathogen. Although the infection of native African population by EBOV is due to the consumption of bushmeat, bushmeat is not a common source of food for them. They eat it because they do not have other food choices.

    • angel519 5:15 pm on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It is interesting to know that Ebola is originated from animal source. Places like Africa where most people live in poverty and food supply is limited, they have no choice but to eat Bushmeat which contains microbes or viruses that have never been encountered by the human population. Even though the source of the virus is identified, becasue of poverty and the brutal environment it is difficult to stop the people from hunting other bushmeat. And this might causes another outbreak of foodborne diease in the future due to the consumption of asymptomatic bushmeat.

    • CindyDai 6:34 pm on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I was quite shocked to know Ebola can be considered as food pathogens. The horrifying Ebola outbreaks in Africa and America earlier this year did attract a lot of public attention, and not many news mentioned how to prevent Ebola at household level. It is good to know that Ebola can be destroyed by heating, which means it shares the same food safety practice with many other foodborne pathogens. We should always be prepared to fight with foodborne pathogens and be aware of the horrible consequence of incorrect food handling.

    • Stephanie Chen 7:28 pm on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      As Ebola is generally known to spread through direct contact with infected blood and body fluids, it is quite interesting that it can be regarded as a food-borne pathogen. Through the image and the video, it can really be seen that there is immense potential for contamination through the various steps of preparation, cooking, and consumption of bushmeats. While the virus can be eliminated through heat processing of the food, it may be still be a great challenge to regulate hunting and gathering practices to reduce risk of outbreaks.

    • EmilyLi 5:01 pm on December 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This is a very interesting post. It change the mainstream view that Ebola virus is transmitted by human infected blood and body fluid. The fact that the Ebola virus can be destroyed by heat is a wonderful fact to know and hopefully this fact would be helpful in preparing the bushmeats. However, in area such as Africa there may not be enough resources to implement regulations that the hunters, gathers, and street vendors to follow to reduce and prevent the outbreaks.

    • Carissa Li 12:49 am on December 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Ebola as a foodborne pathogen really caught my eyes to this post! I never thought it could be transmitted through food since the news only emphasize on direct contact with blood. The fact that how they are selling the bushmeats in the market of course is the main reason for cross contamination but i think the utensils they use to prepare the meat is also one of the reasons for cross contamination. I think the reason why Ebola is that savage is also due to people consuming bushmeats on a daily basis. In this case, Ebola can be spread widely in Africa.

    • mustafa akhtar 12:15 am on December 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I remember back in 2014 when we first heard about the ebola outbreak, and this catalysed the kicking in of many survellience agencies across the globe. Your view is that the cultural practises in Africa may help spread Ebola, but other countries that don’t sell bush meet or don’t have customary funeral practises, still seem to have been concerned for the spread of outbreak. Is ebola as viable outside Africa?

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