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Some pet owners believe 'Barf diet' — which stands for 'bones and raw food' or 'biologically appropriate raw food' is healthier than conventional processed pet food which often contains artificial colourings, salt and sugar.

Giving them the reason to ditch dry and canned pet foods and feed their pets raw meat-based diets (RMBDs). However, in a recent study, researchers found that such a diet can turn to be poisonous to the pets.

Dutch researchers suggest that raw diet which includes raw meat might carry poisoning bugs - such as salmonella, E coli and Listeria.

A team led by Paul Overgaauw at Utrecht University analysed 35 commercial frozen raw meat-based diets (RMBDs) from eight different brands that are widely available in Netherlands.

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They found that Escherichia coli O157 was isolated from eight products (23 percent), Salmonella species in seven products (20 percent) and Listeria species were present in 15 products (43 percent).

Four products (11 percent) contained the parasite Sarcocystis cruzi, another four contained Sarcocystis tenella and in two products (6 percent) Toxoplasma gondii was found.

Researchers say that there are cases where cats have died after eating raw meat. Also, there are reported cases of gastroenteritis in greyhounds.

The Dutch study's co-author Professor Paul Overgaauw, from the University of Utrecht, told Daily Mail: "People who feed their dogs and cats raw meat think they are doing the best for their animals."

Professor Overgaauw added: "It is very difficult to convince them it is not advisable because of this word 'natural' which you always hear in the marketing. They think they are feeding dogs how they would eat in nature, like a wolf."

By feeding this diet to pets, owners are not only risking the health of the animals but also their own health.

Researchers said in a press release: "Despite the relatively low sample size of frozen products in our study, it is clear that commercial RMBDs may be contaminated with a variety of zoonotic bacterial and parasitic pathogens that may be a possible source of bacterial infections in pet animals and if transmitted pose a risk for human beings."

They added: "Cats and dogs that eat raw meat diets are also more likely to become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria than animals on conventional diets, which could pose a serious risk to both animal health and public health."

The study is published in British journal the Veterinary Record.