Don't worry about your kids sticking their hands in the cookie jar ... worry instead about them sticking their hands in the dog food bowl. Like most parents, I learned the hard way that my girls considered the dog food bowl to be another source of snacks when they were toddlers. It's more than just gross; it's also a danger to kids. 

A recently released government report warns of the first known salmonella outbreak in humans, mostly young children, linked to pet food. The outbreak sickened 79 people in 21 mostly eastern states, between 2006 and 2008. Almost half of the victims were children aged 2 and younger.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), at least six unrelated pet food recalls have been issued this year by manufacturers because of possible salmonella contamination. FDA spokesman Ira Allen said there have been no reported salmonella illnesses linked to pet food since the 2006-08 outbreak.

The outbreak was blamed on salmonella bacteria found in several brands of dry dog and cat food produced at a Mars Petcare U.S. plant in Everson, Pa., including Pedigree and Special Kitty.

And investigators say that the kids didn't even have to eat the pet food to be affected. Instead, they might have become infected by touching affected animals or dirty pet food dishes, and then putting their hands in their mouths. 

Yuck. Need another reason to make your own pet food?