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Pet Food Safety

By Galen Rokey, Process Technology Manager, Wenger Manufacturing Inc.

Recent surveys of the pet food industry indicate that food safety is the primary challenge currently facing this industry as well as the feed and food industries. Safe food requires safe feed and collaboration between industry, government, and academia. Most recent issues in pet food safety with international impact are BSE (CJD), dioxins, melamine, and microbial contaminations. Pet food manufacturers’ responsibilities include the following:

1. Products that are safe and of highest quality 2. Increase awareness all along the chain of supply 3. Comprehensive approach

4. Build confidence in consumer and regulatory agencies 5. Continually update and improve programs

The final goal of implementing pet food safety systems is to protect animal and human health and becomes the pet food manufacturers’ responsibility. No program will be completely effective unless it becomes the culture of the employees. Critical areas of impact – which should be the elements of food/feed safety programs – include training and education, assigning responsibilities, and record-keeping. Pet food safety systems contain three basic elements:

1. Food Safety Management and Prerequisite Systems (an organizational effort that points towards commitment) 2. Good manufacturing practices 3. Hazard analysis and critical control point(s)

Management systems must provide necessary resources, operational guidelines, and several key system components in order to function as intended. Specific receiving, storage, and inventory practices are a critical beginning to feed safety.

Resources include the following:

1. Education/awareness of personnel 2. Personal hygiene/work environment 3. Required facilities/equipment provided 4. Control of monitoring/measuring devices 5. Maintenance programs 6. Cleaning/sanitation/pest control 7. Waste control

Operational guidelines include the following:

1. Handling of incoming raw materials 2. Prevention of cross-contamination 3. Rework 4. Production

5. Labeling of finished feed products 6. Storage 7. Transport

PAGE 14 PET FOOD SUPPLEMENT ISSUE 15 Key system components include the following:

1. Documentation 2. Traceability

3. Inspection/sampling/analyses 4. Control of non-conforming product 5. Crisis management (recalls, etc.) 6. Internal audits

Good Manufacturing Practices are programs that describe the basic, general, everyday practices carried out in the feed manufacturing facility. Practices range from cleaning and maintenance of equipment to programs that are implemented in case of product withdrawal and recall.

1. Construction/layout of building 2. Equipment (cleaning/maintenance) 3. Management of incoming raw materials (storage) 4. Cleaning/sanitation/pest control/personal hygiene 5. Prevention of contamination 6. Rework/waste management 7. Product withdrawal and recall

HACCP programs identify all relevant hazards which are then managed through GMP’s and critical control points (CCP). The many pet food safety hazards can be grouped into four major categories: physical, chemical, biological, and radiological concerns. If a hazard needs a specific control, and there is no point further downstream in the process to reduce or eliminate it, it becomes a CCP.

1. Conduct a hazard analysis

2. Determine critical control points (CCP’s) 3. Establish critical limits 4. Monitor the control of CCP’s 5. Corrective actions if controls fail 6. Verify HACCP is working 7. Document all procedures (records)

Incoming raw materials can include whole grain, dry flours and meals, liquid ingredients, chilled and frozen ingredients and all are considered to be a potential source of contamination. It is recommended that all ingredients and packaging materials be accompanied by a Certificate of Analysis to assure identity of materials, that they meet specifications, and that they are free from adulterants or contaminants. Too often the perception is that these materials are just “feed” ingredients and quality is not important. Some ingredients such as palatants and other pet food product coatings are never subjected to a critical control point of a high process temperature and thus must be carefully monitored for microbial contamination.

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