Through a five-year US Food and Drug Administration grant for nearly $500,000, South Dakota State University Senior Microbiologist Seema Das aims to determine whether a test that detects Salmonella in human food can do the same in raw petfood.
The first year the test will be validated, and then either adjustments or expansion of the testing will be done in subsequent years. The work will involve multi-lab validation with collaborators at Iowa State, Texas A & M, the University of Minnesota and the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. "This is not only a pet health issue, it is a human health issue because everything is interlinked," said Das. "If the petfood is contaminated with Salmonella, it goes from the petfood to you."
After reviewing recalls, Das and her research team suspect that mice or other rodents may be possible sources of contamination. Rodents and bugs can be problematic in factories where food is produced, said Das, and Salmonella is a common pathogen in mice. The SDSU team, consisting of veterinarian Russ Daly, bacteriologist Laura Ruesch, microbiologists Marciel Aguiar and Cindy Watt and two undergraduate students, began working on the project in September 2013.