According to the article "HACCP: Where Did We Go Wrong?"
by David Rosenblatt, DVM, ever since Dr. Paul LaChance of NASA
and Dr. Howard Bauman of Pillsbury pioneered the use of CCPs
(critical control points) in food production 50 years
ago, HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control points) has become
the most widely accepted system for managing food safety in the
world. "There is no argument as to the effectiveness of the
system when it is applied properly," explains Rosenblatt.
"However, poor implementation or abuse of the system can be
devastating. Indeed, many of the recently widely publicized
food safety incidents were caused by products originating from
HACCP certified plants." So what can petfood manufacturers do
to avoid such brand-threatening catastrophes?
Equipped with a better understanding of the system, the
industry can apply and maintain more effective petfood safety
management programs. As defined by Rosenblatt, HACCP is
designed to identify, evaluate and control all food safety
hazards associated with any food related process. "The
methodology is based on establishing a precise process
flowchart, and identifying all significant food safety hazards
at each step of the process," he explains. "Those steps along
the process at which effective control is applied are
identified as CCPs and will be monitored accordingly."
Examples of CCPs can include thermal processing, sieving,
metal detection, acidification and high hydrostatic pressure
(see Figures 1 and 2). All of these steps divide the process
into "before" the CCP (potentially contaminated) and "after"
the CCP (always hazard free), states Rosenblatt's article.
Unfortunately, a major weakness of HACCP is it is not designed
to address hazard which are not controlled as part of the
Rosenblatt uses this example: A dry petfood manufacturer
might choose the dryer as a CCP, because the time and
temperature are sufficient for eliminating pathogenic bacteria.
Because this step is a CCP the time and temperature will be
rigorously controlled and there will be no concern that
contaminated product could proceed to packaging. However, if
the product at the packaging line were to become contaminated
with bird droppings, the result could be a Salmonella outbreak.
"This is only one of many scenarios where HACCP was working
well (CCPs under control), and a food safety incident occurred
anyway," he points out.
So what steps can you take to ensure this doesn't happen on
your manufacturing line?
Stella & Chewy's, makers of raw, natural dog foods and
treats, has recently taken an innovative approach to ensure
that their products are safe for both families and pets.
"At this company, food safety is our first priority," stated
Marie Moody, Stella & Chewy's founder and president, in a
press release. "And we have the processes in place to prove
it." The company has developed a patent-pending SecureByNature
system to guard against food contamination throughout the
manufacturing plant. A key component of this system is the
Hydrostatic High Pressure (HHP) process -- a technology that
actually eliminates harmful pathogens without cooking out vital
nutrients or changing the natural taste, says the company. HHP
is the only scientifically recognized pasteurization method
that does not use heat or irradiation to accomplish this.
Stella & Chewy's is so confident in the quality and
safety of its products, the test results are posted directly
on its website.
"Our patented food safety process was designed by a regents
distinguished professor of food safety at Kansas State
University," says Sandy Goodman, CEO of Stella & Chewy's.
"Experts have told us that the food safety programs in place at
Stella & Chewy's would be in the forefront of human food
manufacturers and are years ahead of the petfood industry."
The standard HACCP system is implemented under the working
assumption that Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) are in
place and that hazards associated with poor practices have
already been addressed. This, however, is often a wrong
assumption. HACCP provides an excellent methodological and
scientific decision making tool, but its up to us to make sure
it is being implemented correctly, thoroughly and
It is crucial for the petfood safety specialist to
acknowledge that HACCP is not designed to compensate for GMP
shortcomings, and that hazards controlled by GMP are as
significant as those being controlled by CCPs. "A HACCP program
that is not regularly maintained and updated will quickly
become obsolete," asserts Rosenblatt. "The most important
aspect of maintaining the system's validity is managing
Any change in the product, process, equipment, ingredients,
suppliers, packaging, intended use, manufacturing conditions or
personnel might have an impact on petfood safety and requires a
reassessment of HACCP.
Failure to evaluate the potential impact of changes prior to
implementing them can be disastrous, Rosenblatt warns. The most
effective way of managing this is to establish and implement a