The growing popularity of raw meat-based diets for pets is accompanied by an increasing concern regarding possible health implications of this practice to pet owners, due to the storage and preparation of raw meat. This study aimed to explore pet owners’ knowledge and perceptions about safety of raw meat-based feeding and determine self-reported food safety practices during raw meat-based pet food preparation. An online questionnaire was distributed via social media platforms was completed by pet owners practicing raw meat-based feeding ( n =174). Almost all participants (95%) reported confidence that their pets’ raw meat-based food is safe. Two thirds of respondents (67%) reported to have researched food safety information, regarding raw meat-based feeding, however only 8% asked a veterinarian for food safety advice. Respondents were aware of pathogens that may be present in raw meat-based diets, and of food safety practices, however, they did not report implementation of appropriate food safety practices consistently. Malpractices, such as rinsing raw meat (27%) and lack of segregation (52%) were reported. The risk of foodborne illness to pet owners associated with raw meat-based feeding was perceived to be ‘low’ by 89% of pet owners. Participants perceived low susceptibility to foodborne illness, but high self-efficacy, which may be an indication of ‘optimistic bias’. This study has identified the need for increasing pet owners’ awareness of the possible risks associated with raw meat-based feeding to human health. The provision of comprehensive food safety information, intended to target the perceptions of pet owners identified in this study, is needed to improve pet owners’ food safety practices, to reduce the potential food safety risks associated with raw meat preparation and storage in the domestic environment.
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