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Food safety and HACCP for pet food manufacture

Fancy tucking into Crispy Pigs Ears with Truffle Tartare Sauce? How about Textures of Tripe with Onion Purée? Or maybe you’ve got a sweeter tooth and would prefer Pork Jus Jelly with Apple and Shortbread Biscuits?

According to a posting on the Great British Chefs website earlier this month, these are the latest dishes created by Michelin-starred chef, Josh Eggleston. But if they’re not quite what you’d fancy eating on a dinner date, there’s no need to worry; they’re not intended for humans. Instead, the fancy meals feature on the menu at the world’s first fine dining restaurant for dogs. Your pampered pooch can devour the doggy delights at Winslow’s, which you may be surprised to learn is not in Los Angeles, or even Paris, but in Bristol, right here in the UK.

Fool-proof food to tempt our furry friends

OK, I’ll come clean, that posting just happened to be made on April 1st. There is, to my knowledge, no such doggy diner and anyone who has a canine companion will have realised that something was not quite right, since onion is toxic to dogs. However we already have grooming salons, luxury pet hotels, coats and dresses, cologne and beauty parlours for dogs, so perhaps fine dining for dogs isn’t quite as far-fetched as it might sound.

As a nation of animal lovers we do like to spoil our pets. In response in recent years we have seen an increase in the number of ‘gourmet’ brands of pet food available, designed to tempt even the most discerning doggy or fussy feline.

Pet food needs to be flavoursome so that it is appealing to our furry friends. It needs to smell fairly pleasant so as not to offend the nostrils of the person serving it up and it also needs to be nutritious to keep our pets healthy and strong – especially if they’re taking part in Canix cross-country competitions with their owners. The picture below shows one of our recent Diploma in Nutrition & Health (Sport) delegates, Paul Almond, a Chef Manager at The Outward Bound Trust with his Jack Russell Terrier.


Copyright Dan Wyre courtesy of www.canix.co.uk

Food safety and HACCP for pet food manufacture

Food safety for pet food is every bit as important as it is in food for human consumption. Pet food contaminated with salmonella, for example, can cause infections in animals, but it can also cause serious illness in humans too if it’s not handled properly – especially vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly. Hand washing in particular before and after handling food and pets is essential.

When it comes to the manufacture of pet food, the same stringent procedures need to be followed as for regular food production relating to hygiene, facilities, storage, personnel and record-keeping.  Effective HACCP plans also need to be developed and implemented to ensure the food is safe to eat. Physical, microbiological and chemical hazards are just as pertinent as in any other food manufacturing process and operators need to be aware of critical control points in the same way.

Laws relating to pet feeds

Whilst parts of animals and other animal by-products that we would not include in human food are often found in pet feeds, there are restrictions in place as to what may be used. Food intended for animals must be safely sourced, which means that it must not present unacceptable risks to public or animal health. It must also have been ‘collected, transported or brought from the point of import to the plant under conditions excluding risks to public and animal health.’

For further protection, there are various laws restricting the residue levels of veterinary substances in meat products as well as the level of pesticides in cereal products used in the manufacture of animal feeds. Unprocessed material should also be transported at an appropriate temperature.

Packaging and Labelling

Great care must be taken to protect pet food from contamination throughout the production process including making sure that any packaging is leak-proof. In addition canned product must be subjected to heat treatment to a minimum FC value of 3.

All pet food must be clearly labelled ‘pet food only’ but there are other general mandatory and specific mandatory labelling requirements which must be adhered to:

General mandatory labelling requirements: 

  • type of feed – for example, ‘feed material’, ‘complete feed’, ‘complementary feed’. For pets other than cats and dogs the designation ‘complete feed’ or ‘complementary feed’ may be replaced by ‘compound feed’. The designation ‘pet food’ is also allowed
  • name or business name and address of the feed business operator responsible for the labelling
  • establishment approval number if available
  • batch or reference number
  • net quantity
  • list of feed additives, preceded by the heading ‘additives’
  • moisture content if it exceeds 14%

Specific mandatory labelling requirements: 

  • species or categories of animals for which the compound feed is intended
  • instructions for proper use indicating the purpose for which the feed is intended – for example, amount per animal per day, or percentage of total daily ration
  • in cases where the producer is not the person responsible for the labelling, name and address of the producer or an identification number
  • minimum storage life: ‘use before…’ followed by the date DD/MM/YY for highly perishable feed, ‘best before…’ followed by the date MM/YY for other feed
  • list of feed materials in descending order by weight based on the moisture content under the heading ‘composition’
  • for pet animals, the specific name of a feed material may be replaced by the category name – a list of categories has been established by the European Commission
  • if special emphasis is placed on a feed material on the labelling (for example, by words, pictures or graphics) then the name and percentage weight must be indicated
  • compulsory declarations of crude protein, crude oils and fats, crude fibre and crude ash under the heading ‘analytical constituents’ or without affecting the analysis for pet food the replacement expressions ‘protein’, ‘fat content’ and ‘incinerated residue’ / ‘inorganic matter’ may be used respectively
  • pet food manufacturers must provide contact details – for example, a free telephone number for purchasers wishing to obtain information on feed additives and the names of feed materials within a category

More information about pet food manufacture can be found on the Pet Food Manufacturers Association website: www.pfma.org.uk

Verner Wheelock’s HACCP courses are ideal for pet food as well as regular food manufacturers. In fact we have trained some of the biggest names in the pet food industry. More information about HACCP courses, including forthcoming dates. Don’t forget that we also offer bespoke HACCP consultancy services too.