Pet Food and Treat Safety Continues at Home

When handling pet food and treats at home, it is a good idea to follow sound sanitary practices to keep your pet and family safe. Some steps include:

  • Avoiding cross contamination between pet food and human food, and cleaning kitchen surfaces after preparing a bowl of food.
  • Washing your hands after handling food, treats and toys.
  • Keeping food bowls dry and clean, and providing fresh water daily.
  • To avoid spoilage or infestation, it is important to securely store pet food and treats. Kibble and dry treats should be properly sealed and stored in a cool, dry place. Canned pet food, and any other similar “wet” products, should be sealed and stored in the refrigerator after opening, if the entire container is not served to the pet at one time.

Pet food manufacturers provide feeding directions on their labels. Pet lovers can read these suggested feeding directions for guidelines. Click here to read more about feeding and treat suggestions.

Product Recalls

Should product testing or other safety practice result in an unusual finding—perhaps an indication of a potential concern, for example a mislabeled product, the improper balance of ingredients or the possible presence of harmful bacteria— pet food companies take action to remove (“recall”) a product from the market after it has been shipped. The vast majority of product recalls are conducted by the company’s own initiative when they’ve found some issue[1] or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has brought a request forward.

Whereas recalls of human food products occur almost daily, recalls of pet food products are far less frequent. A list of all FDA-regulated human food and animal feed/pet food recalls is available online. Pet food products have been recalled voluntarily by the company in all instances.

With the FDA’s statutory authority under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the agency can now issue a mandatory recall on products. FDA was granted this authority for all food types; human and animal. The agency has never had to use this authority for a pet food product.The tragic 2007 recall involving melamine when wheat gluten (used in pet food) and rice protein concentrate were intentionally adulterated with melamine by ingredient manufacturers in China. Pet food makers recalled products even before the cause of illness, melamine, was identified. FDA took criminal action against the companies involved in importing the adulterated food ingredients[2].

Pet food makers and government regulators recognize the need for stringent oversight of ingredient suppliers, both foreign and domestic. FSMA requirements strengthen the pet food makers’ ability to ensure ingredient and finished product safety. Click here to learn more about how these will requirements impact foreign suppliers.

If a product you have purchased is recalled, take it back to the place of purchase and ask for a refund, and make sure to keep a copy of the label code. Stores generally have a return and refund policy when a company has announced a recall of its products. It is important to also contact the product manufacturer.

[1] http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/RecallsWithdrawals/ucm393160.htm

[2] http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm048139.htm