There seems to be no question that pathogens are all too common in the raw food that we eat. Yet, the FDA can often do little unless there is an outbreak somewhere. The good news for pet owners is that there is almost a zero tolerance policy when it comes to raw pet food.
Although there are often reports of food recalls in the United States related to human foods, only a small percentage of contaminated food is ever recalled. Consumer Reports did a test a couple years ago that found that 97% of the raw chicken breasts they tested from grocery stores were contaminated.
A company can recall food any time they feel it’s necessary, but the FDA only requires a recall only in the case of adulterated food. That is food that contains known poisons or in conditions that were known to be unsanitary.
This is in marked contrast to how the FDA approaches raw pet food, as one industry article pointed out.
“The FDA has adopted a zero-tolerance policy for any pathogens at all in raw pet food with the rationale that it is meant to be consumed in its raw state, and consequently no bacteria is permitted. The presence of even a single bacterium (one-tenth the size of a human cell) will trigger an automatic recall, even in the absence of any harm.”
There is a twofold reason for the strict guidelines on raw pet food. To protect the pet and also to protect the pet’s owner who will be handling their food.
Many pet owners prefer raw food for their pets over traditional dry or canned pet food because they believe there are more benefits to it. That it can provide a pet with a shinier coat, healthier skin, and higher energy, among other things. The one drawback is the higher risk with bacteria in raw food, something that new standards have helped to all but eliminate.
What Ped Food Manufacturers Must Do
To meet the strict criteria established, many pet food manufacturers have taken a number of steps. This includes using high pressure pasteurization to reduce pathogens. Many believe that this process doesn’t impact the taste of the meat, but some believe this isn’t always the case. This can be an expensive process too.
Many pet food manufacturers are also selective from where they purchase ingredients, relying on manufacturers that adhere to strict guidelines in preparing their meat or produce. Many plants even do the grinding themselves.
Another popular treatment for meat is to use UV light emitters to prevent bacteria from growing while being processed.
Finally, many pet food manufactures of both raw food and processed pet food have developed strict guidelines for employees in the workplace.
Keeping Employees Sterile While Handling Raw Pet Food
The days of doing little more than hanging a sign in the bathroom reminding employees to wash their hands is long gone. Today many plants have strict protocols involved in keeping their employees sanitary. They know that pathogens can be easily passed not just from employee’s hands, but their shoes and clothing.
The raw pet manufacturers that have successfully lowered their risks of contaminants have turned to automated equipment to clean employees hands, shoes, and clothing.
Automated Solutions For Keeping Employees Sterile in Pet Food Plants
There are a number of products that are specifically designed for factories that handle raw food, both for humans and for pets. Hand washing stations that are hands free and uses warm air to quickly and safely dry hands.
Boot washing equipment and sole cleaning machines are available that thoroughly clean footwear. They get into the crevices and seams of shoes and boots and thanks to rotating brushes, even the small particle is removed. This ensures no pathogens are tracked into the plant floor and then passed onto the food being handled.
These machines are also designed to operate efficiently so that employees don’t lose valuable production time cleaning. Triggered by sensors, the equipment sprays jet water and sanitizing products. The machines can be set to a factories specific needs and are a fast and easy way to ensure the cleanliness of everyone’s footwear.
ITEC America has for decades been manufacturing products specifically designed for food processing plants and are already used in many pet food plants. They offer a variety of models that can accommodate your factories specific needs and size from standalone machines to walk through boot washers.
If you want to make your plant is doing everything it can to eliminate pathogens in your pet food plant, then contact ITEC America. We can help you to meet the high standards that have been set by both the industry and consumers.