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The ingredients used to make pet food are also an integral part of the safety system: meat, poultry, fish and their by-products; animal- and plant- based meals; grains, oilseeds, vitamins, minerals and other more specialized ingredients.
Companies that supply these ingredients are regularly inspected by pet food companies to gain “supplier approval.” Even after suppliers are approved, incoming ingredients are scrutinized using accept/reject criteria according to company procedures and specifications.
U.S. pet food makers develop proper handling procedures for ingredients as well as for finished products to prevent avoid any cross-contamination. Steps such as separating storage of ingredient materials, careful planning of employee walking patterns on the plant floor or labeling and color-coding of plant tools and utensils are used to avoid cross-contamination and utilizing x-ray machinery and metal detectors on the processing line. Many of the same concepts are used in the family kitchen, just on a larger scale.
Sophisticated equipment is often used to closely monitor the production process to confirm that the desired parameters are met. In the unlikely event that an issue does occur and a product is recalled from the market, companies maintain records on production lots so they will be able to identify affected products.
Safety procedures do not end when a product leaves the manufacturing facility. Companies track customer feedback and respond to that feedback as appropriate, truly making safety a beginning-to-end commitment.
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