Pet Food Recalls / Pet Food Safety / Pet Food Regulations
on January 4, 2013

Is zero Salmonella in petfood possible?

Will impending US food safety regulations—if they ever emerge—dictate zero Salmonella?

["US petfood manufacturers are hoping a risk-based approach is the philosophy behind new regulations.", "To date the law has mostly produced anxiety and frustration—even lawsuits."]

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) finds Salmonella in over 10% of animal feed despite a zero tolerance for the bacteria, according to an investigation by CBC News in late December 2012. That level seems high, but is zero Salmonella practical or even possible?

In its report, CBC quoted Melissa Dumont, director of technical services for the Animal Nutrition Association of Canada (which represents feed manufacturers), who said Salmonella is “everywhere in the environment … it’s very hard to control, so there’s a possibility we can find Salmonella in feed.”

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has had a zero tolerance policy since 2010, which is arguably the main reason behind the increase in petfood recalls over the past two years. In many of those cases, a minute amount of Salmonella was found in a plant (because Dumont is right, it’s everywhere in the environment); so even though no products, pets or people were affected, the manufacturer prudently decided to recall all batches produced at that time.

In both countries, how the respective agencies enforce their zero-tolerance stances has a significant impact on whether recalls or other corrective actions occur. Paul Mayers, CFIA’s vice-president of policy and programs, told CBC News that his agency takes a risk-based approach to determining corrective actions. The report mentions a Manitoba feed producer who said…

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