The Pet Food Institute (PFI) and our members, who make 98% of all pet food products in the U.S., understand our responsibility to produce safe, high-quality and nutritious food for your dogs and cats. As the sole source of nutrition for a dog or cat, pet food must deliver all the nutrients needed to build a complete and healthy diet, while at the same time be held to the highest safety standards.

PFI members take their commitment to food safety extremely seriously and it is their number one priority. They share input with government regulators and work in collaboration with their ingredient suppliers and each other to ensure the food provided to dogs and cats meets all food safety requirements. In addition, PFI works closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in a constant effort to make sure our members understand all pet food federal regulations.

Just as with any food, safety protocols are designed to minimize any risks associated with the production of ingredients and the finished products that are sold in the marketplace.

In pet food manufacturing, companies control for potential issues associated with the presence of:

  • Harmful bacteria, for example Salmonella which is generally not harmful to dogs or cats, but can cause illness in people;
  • Contaminants such as mycotoxins which can occur naturally in the grains of a farmers’ fields; and
  • Physical hazards like stones or metal that could unintentionally be introduced during harvest, transport, or manufacturing.

In order to control for such potential hazards, pet food makers put rigorous controls into place.

Safety controls can include product testing for harmful bacteria, sanitation checks, mycotoxin screening of incoming materials, auditing of ingredient suppliers, and utilizing x-ray machinery and metal detectors on the processing line.

Product safety doesn’t only occur while the food is being made. Well before the product is manufactured, animal nutritionists carefully and deliberately create recipes to support pet health by providing proper nutrition to cats and dogs. Most pet food brands on the market today are considered “complete and balanced,” meaning that these foods provide all of the essential nutrients for dogs and cats.

Products are designed to ensure they contain a balanced nutritional content, whether through feeding trial or nutrient analysis. Ingredients are carefully selected for inclusion in a product based upon the nutrients they contain and their functional properties.