Research – Raw Meat-Based Pet Feeding and Food Safety: Netnography Study of Pet Owner Comments and Review of Manufacturers’ Information Provision

Journal of Food Protection

Feeding raw meat to domestic pets is a popular practice. Because of the potential food safety implications associated with handling raw meat, concerns about pet owner health have increased. For this study, a netnographic content analysis approach was used to analyze posts from ‘PetForums Community’ online archives, relating to ‘raw meat-based feeding’ and ‘food safety’ ( n =308). UK manufacturer/supplier websites ( n =33) were reviewed for provision of food safety information relating to raw meat-based pet feeding. The data were analyzed using qualitative thematic approach and quantitative methods. Pet owner forum comments indicated potential malpractices and indifference towards the possible food safety hazards when preparing raw meat-based pet food. Many were risk aware but indicated confusion regarding appropriate food safety practices. Although emotional concern about the safety of the pets and children was expressed, contracting a foodborne disease was not perceived as a personal risk. Additionally, the review identified that the majority (61%) of manufacturer/supplier websites failed to provide any food safety instructions or warnings to pet owners regarding raw meat-based pet food. Information was inconsistent and varied between sources. The most comprehensive sources of information were provided by manufacturers approved by the UK Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association. This is the first netnography study to explore pet owner online reports and the provision of food safety information, related to raw pet feeding. Findings suggest pet owners may not fully appreciate the potential risks associated with raw meat-based pet feeding. Consequently, there is a need for credible and consistent strategies to inform the pet owners about potential implications associated with feeding raw meat to pets, as well as about safe food handling practices.

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