Pet Food and Treat Safety:
It’s Time for Facts, Not
Online falsehoods obscure
pet food industry’s culture of
“Pet food recalls are proof there is some- thing wrong in the pet food industry.” This is just one of the falsehoods per- petuated online and across social media that unduly undermines customer confidence in commercial pet food and treats.
As the voice of the U.S. pet food and treat industry,
the Pet Food Institute (PFI) is talking about the manufacturing process, the regulatory environment and the
companies that feed America’s dogs and cats. It’s important and our responsibility to provide those facts.
A recall, whether for a human food or for a pet food
or treat, removes a product from the marketplace and is
an integral part of the current U.S. food safety system.
For PFI members, it’s also inherent in their food safety
plans, which are designed to drive continuous improvement in the safety of ingredients and finished products.
In this regard, the 2007 pet food recalls resulted in a
marked change for PFI and its members. Pet food ingredient makers in China added melamine to wheat gluten
and rice protein concentrate in an effort to mislead their
customers about the ingredient protein levels. Tragedy
resulted—an untold number of pets became sick or died.
Such intentional adulteration for economic gain was
unprecedented in the food industry at the time.
While PFI members had existing safety plans in
operation and recalled impacted products even before
the cause of illness, a combination
of melamine and cyanuric acid, was
identified, PFI established a Pet Food
Commission of experts in nutrition,
veterinary medicine and chemistry to
study the findings related to the recalls
and make recommendations to the
manufacturing, regulatory and veteri-
nary communities. PFI members began
to adopt the commission’s recommen-
dations for pet food makers:
• Update quality assurance programs
to incorporate best product safety
practices throughout the manu-
facturing and distribution process,
including ingredient sourcing and
• Reevaluate sampling and testing
• Strengthen traceability to include lot
and date codes on finished products
These actions are now built into our
culture of safety and are required under
the Food Safety Modernization Act
Safety Is the Priority
PFI members make 98 percent of
U.S. dog and cat food and treats. Their
preventive, forward-looking food safety
systems support pet food safety daily.
Today’s pet food safety programs
must be prevention-based and employ
practices such as applying advances in
technology, adhering to strict testing
protocols, practicing zero tolerance
for the presence of Salmonella and
continuous monitoring throughout the
manufacturing process to ensure the
safest possible food products are being
consumed by the 180 million pet dogs
and cats across the country who live in
nearly two-thirds of U.S. households.
Pet food shoppers find an array of
choices when selecting food, treats or
chews: dry (kibble), wet (canned), semi-moist, fresh, dehydrated, freeze-dried
and raw-infused. For PFI members, the
safety and nutrition of these products is