Risks related to BARF diet
The BARF diet (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones And Raw Food), feeding of pets (especially dogs) with raw meat, is becoming more and more common, and poses microbiological risks to humans.

Recently, several cases have come to light where pets and sometimes their owners have fallen ill because of contact with raw meat.

In May 2019, 13-15 cats were affected by tuberculosis caused by Mycobacterium bovis, which was proven to be caused by BARF feeding. Details of the case can be found in this news and in this publication.

Previous cases on BARF feeding:

The following case was brought to our attention at the EFSA EREN (Emerging Risk Exchange Network) meeting in 2017: an American Staffordshire terrier was infected with Brucella suis (biovar 1) from raw feed made from rabbit.

The pathogen is also dangerous to humans. Brucellosis can cause miscarriage, infertility, septicaemia (death), but not necessarily, it is then difficult to recognise (high fever, headache, lethargy). It is endemic in some areas (e.g. Malta). The pathogen is transmitted by food, e.g. raw dairy products, raw meat, or by inhalation. Typical slaughterhouse disease (vets, workers), but this dog has not been exposed to it; it was fed BARF (raw meat/bone).

The Dutch authority followed up the case, which suggested that Argentinian rabbit by-products contaminated with Brucella may have been in the dog's diet and may have caused the illness. The authorities sampled rabbit carcasses from Argentina and found 30-40% positivity for B. suis in the batches.

Other publications related to BARF feeding:

  • According to a 2015 study, raw feed may contain ESC (extended spectrum cephalosporins) resistant E. coli.
  • A 2007 study highlights salmonellae shedding by dogs fed Salmonella-contaminated commercial raw food diets.


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