How important is pet food safety to the average American? The American Pet Products Association has estimated that 70% of U.S. households own a pet, including more than 100 million households with at least one dog or cat. In recent years, consumer demand for premium and specialty pet food products has fueled a spike in U.S. sales of pet food to nearly $30 billion annually. Due to the growing consumer demands for high-quality pet food and an increasingly complex pet food supply chain, it seems the safety of animal food has never been more important.
The old saying is to never judge a book by its cover, but consumers regularly judge a food item by its label. Increasingly, customers are spending more time reading every part of a product’s label before they buy it, from the claims on the front to the nutrition information to the ingredients list. Here at Mérieux NutriSciences, our Labeling Compliance & Nutrition Services team works to help food manufacturers create compliant food, menu and nutrition labels with federal regulations, including Food and Drug Administration (FDA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Health Canada. Continue Reading
People are beginning to focus more on the sources and nutritional content of the food they eat, and this trend is carrying over to what pets are eating, too. The U.S. continues to dominate the pet food market, with about 44% of global sales in 2017, but in Canada, sales are anticipated to have a 2.2% growth in constant value sales over the next five years. Pet food labeling is regulated in the United States by the FDA and local state laws, and in Canada by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Industry Canada. However, neither of these countries provide uniform and rigorous regulations to monitor pet food labeling despite the booming pet food industry. Continue Reading
Years ago, I was in a production facility, and a worker threw some trash into a barrel of product destined for a local pig farmer. The worker thought his actions were acceptable because of the common belief that pigs eat anything.
Over the years, many production facilities have taken products and by-products failing to meet finished product specifications and have sold them to “pig farmers” or other animal food companies. As I witnessed, sometimes employees would throw foreign material into the “pig food” or “animal food” container. Often, this product would be offered for “free” to farmers, as long as they picked it up frequently. Commonly, these containers on the back dock or in a walk-in refrigerator would not be labeled. Workers would throw trash in them because they were not trained about the risk of mixing trash with potential animal feed. Continue Reading
A picture taken in the early 1980s shows me at age 3 eating dog treats out of my grandparents’ food pantry. I think back on that picture and recognize how things have changed in the last 30+ years when it comes to Food Safety, most recently for the Pet Food Industry. Environmental Monitoring or Product Testing Programs rarely existed back then, and the few that did exist lacked planning. If I had gotten sick from consuming contaminated pet food, my parents or doctors would never have assumed eating dog food/treats caused it. Continue Reading
As the world of food safety continues to evolve, especially in the area of microbiology, we are starting to see food safety standards continually expand outside human food products into pet foods and treats. The focus on this market segment has increased due to several high profile recalls, most notably in dry pet food products. This heightened scrutiny affords us the opportunity to evaluate food safety practices and processes to ensure the integrity of products intended for our furry companions. Fortunately, we have the processes and procedures in place to ensure pet food is as safe as our own! Continue Reading
Ensuring the safety and quality of pet food in the United States continues to be a challenging and complex endeavor. Despite the highly regulated nature of the industry and pet food manufacturers’ best efforts, there are many challenges, such as the growing complexity of global supply chains, emerging contaminants and evolving regulatory, and customer requirements. With these challenges as a backdrop, several well-known incidents linked to microbiological hazards, natural toxins, and chemical contaminants have occurred in recent years. Continue Reading