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Raw Pet Food Safe Handling Tips


Most of us cook our food (mainly the meats) we prepare for your human family. And, you probably take the proper precautions when the food is raw and potentially unsafe. With the exception of the cooking stage, handling raw dog food is no different – and should be controlled in the same safe way.3 Easy Tips on Handling Raw Pet Food

Dear Ask Darwin’s,

All I hear these days is about raw, natural, organic, etc.  I have always fed, what I think is great dog food. Now, I am thinking, maybe not.  I am really curious about raw dog food but I am worried about the contamination factors. Are there ways to make sure I am not exposing my kids to anything dangerous?

Millie R. – New Jersey

Dear Millie,

The short answer is, “Yes, of course”.

The longer more complete answer and most likely what you’re asking, taps into one of the biggest stumbling blocks pet owners have about feeding a raw diet to their dog or cat — the safety of bringing raw dog food into the family kitchen.

Believe me, we understand — especially when it comes to those with small children and/or, “I Dare You to eat it,” teens.

You probably know most of what I am about to say, however since you, along with many of our customers asked, I think it bears repeating.

Wash:  Hands and surfaces… often

Bacteria can be spread throughout the kitchen and get onto hands, cutting boards, utensils, counter tops, and food.  Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling RAW food.  Wash your dog dishes (after each meal) utensils and any countertops involved with hot soapy water before you go on to other food. Consider using paper towels instead of cloth towels or sponges. Don’t leave edibles out of the fridge for more than two hours.

  • Use stainless-steel bowls for feeding any raw product. Other materials such as plastic and porcelain can be porous and may trap germs over time.
  • When you clean up try using two different colored sponges in the kitchen — one for cleaning your dishes and another for cleaning your pet’s dishes.

Separate:  Raw meats from other foods

After serving a thawed meal portion of food, immediately place any remaining thawed meal portions into the refrigerator. Raw foods will maintain optimum freshness for 3-5 days under refrigeration.  Cross-contamination can occur when bacteria are spread from the raw food to other foods. There’s a very simple way to keep these foods—and their juices—away from other foods

  • Just like the dog bowls, thawed food (as well as uneaten portions) should be stored in airtight stainless-steel, glass or non-porous BPA free plastic containers.

Refrigerate: Keep your refrigerator at 40ºF or below

According to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), “bacteria grow most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40 and 140 °F, the “Danger Zone,” some doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes. A refrigerator set at 40 °F or below will protect most foods. Your freezer temperature should always be 0ºF or below. Keeping raw food frozen at a consistent temperature of 0 °F will prevent the growth of microbes — including mold and yeast — as well as slow down the natural activity of enzymes present in food, including meat, fish, fruit, and vegetables.

Never thaw food at room temperature, such as on the counter top. Food must be kept at a safe temperature during thawing.

By educating your family about how to properly store and prepare raw dog food, you will be one step closer to keeping you and your family (both furry and non-furry members alike) safe from bacteria and other potentially unsafe organisms.

Always remember to buy raw food from someone you trust.

Hope this helped,



Jeanne Romano - Menu Consultant
Jeanne Romano – Menu Consultant at Darwin’s Natural Pet Products

I openly believe in all things “green” (except teeth). I love crafting words that make people think, painting with watercolors, amazing individuals who really are working to cure breast cancer and, of course, sushi. I’m the mother of two amazing canines and am passionate (and quite knowledgeable) about dog nutrition. And, in spite of Lucy Van Pelt’s objections, I let my dogs kiss me on the mouth. To see all my watercolor gallery of my favorite furry faces check out Artisan Tails.