Changes Ahead for the Pet Food Industry
If you have a pet then you surely know how difficult it can be to choose a quality pet food these days. You can no longer simply choose a “good” food off the shelf. Since the pet food recalls in 2007, being a responsible pet owner typically includes learning to read pet food labels – knowing ingredients, looking at the guaranteed analysis, and being familiar with the jargon used by the industry. Lots of people take it farther and want to know where ingredients are sourced, who makes the food, and other nitty gritty information about recipes. No matter. As careful as people have been in choosing pet foods in recent years, there have still been recalls affecting premium brands. How can that be?
Latest Pet Food Recall: https://dogfood.guru/abady-recall-cat/
The FDA swings into action
In March 2013 the FDA announced plans to increase their sampling of domestically manufactured pet food products for analysis. They were primarily looking for Salmonella. Samples were collected from manufacturing sites, from distributors, and from retailers around the country. Canned foods were excluded from the assignment but all other kinds of foods were included – extruded, baked, frozen, and refrigerated. Inexpensive as well as super premium foods were included in the samples. Some 300 samples were taken. As a result, there were a large number of pet food recalls related to Salmonella in 2013, even from some respected “natural” and “holistic” brands.
The federal government has been taking some steps to try to make pet food safer, both for pets and for the humans who handle it. The FDA has initiated a voluntary program – The Animal Feed Regulatory Program Standards – that is made up of a series of voluntary standards for inspections by state and other regulatory programs that oversee the production of pet food and feed for farm animals. The idea is to get all of the various state agencies following the same standards.
Perhaps the most sweeping change to the pet food industry will come with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The FDA is currently in the middle of the regulatory process as this rule relates to pet food manufacturers. The pet food industry recently requested an extension on the comment period for the animal food rule (after already receiving one short extension) and was denied. You can find out more about the proposed rule here. The comment period for this rule has now closed and the pet food industry is waiting to see what kind of final rule the FDA issues.
The pet food industry points out that it is next to impossible to make facilities completely germ-free. One problem is that the USDA and the FDA have different inspection standards relating to Salmonella. The FDA has a higher standard than the USDA. So a pet food facility can pass a USDA inspection and still produce a food that might turn up positive for Salmonella if tested by the FDA.
The industry also notes that, overall, pet food is a very safe product. Pet food has the 3rd highest score of all industries in the American Customer Satisfaction Index with an 83. Nevertheless, the pet food industry is bracing for changes that might lie ahead with the new regulations while consumers hope that any changes will make recalls less likely.