Raw pet foods: handling and preventing infection

Resources for reducing the risk of infection from handling raw pet foods.

Some types of pet food, including pet chews or treats, are made of raw meat and other unprocessed animal products. It may not always be obvious that products contain raw meat.

In addition, some pet foods, such as those which are described as being lightly steamed or lightly cooked may not have been fully pasteurised and may still potentially contain harmful bacteria.

People can become unwell after handling raw pet food and treats. It is therefore important to take the correct precautions before, during and after feeding pets.

Hygiene around pet food

  • hands should be washed with soap and hot water immediately after handling and preparing any raw pet food or treats

  • pet food and treats should be stored and defrosted away from where human food is stored and prepared

  • clean and disinfect all surfaces that the raw pet food touched, such as microwaves, work surfaces, storage containers and utensils like knives, forks and bowls

Safe storage and handling of raw pet food

  • freeze raw pet food until it is required

  • use a dedicated container for storage

  • keep raw pet food away from other food in the refrigerator or freezer

  • defrost frozen pet foods away from other food, food preparation surfaces and equipment

  • throw away any raw pet food that is not eaten as soon as reasonably practical

Frozen or live rodents fed to reptiles

Reptiles may pose infection risks to their owners, either through direct contact or from feeding frozen or live feeder rodents.

Read additional information on reducing the risks of infection from reptiles

Children and pets

Young children are at risk of illness because their immune systems are still developing and they are more likely than others to put their fingers or other items into their mouths.

Children, especially those younger than 5 years old, should not touch or eat raw pet food or treats. If they do have contact, their hands should be washed thoroughly with soap and water afterwards.


Handling pet food safely (PDF, 755KB, 1 page)


The advice on safely handling raw pet food and treats has also been produced in a series of infographics. These are available for download and use by any organisation that wishes to do so.

Read and download all the infographics here

Published 17 October 2018