The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)'s latest proposal, a rule that includes preventive controls for petfood and animal feed, is a hotly debated topic in the petfood industry. The rule, required under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), would require equal processing standards at all facilities manufacturing, processing, packing or holding animal feed and petfood, including Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and risk-based preventive controls. Whether the industry thinks the rule needs modification, a closer look (most of the industry is vying for a longer comment period) or is good as-is, no one is arguing that petfood safety is an important topic.
Coming from the discussions, according to Food Safety News, are 10 changes in particular that the industry believes would improve petfood safety:
- Adopt a greater overall focus on product safety, even if this means using human food manufacturing standards for petfood.
- Make sure a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP)-certified staffer is present at petfood manufacturing facilities to help avoid safety problems.
- Increase safety education training to increase general awareness of potential problems.
- Be practical about the lowest level of bacterial or pathogen contamination that can be achieved.
- Require environmental testing and finished product testing, even though FDA removed them from its proposed rule.
- Enforce final safety standards on foreign suppliers as well as domestic ones. FDA is already proposing to require "good manufacturing practice in manufacturing, processing, packing and holding of animal food" for both domestic and foreign suppliers.
- Share information on cross-contamination issues between people and pets.
- Reduce or eliminate China-sourced ingredients from petfood.
- Encourage proactive approaches to FDA compliance, including regular facility audits and product testing.
- Enhance labeling requirements to make sure stated ingredients are actually in the product at the level and quality advertised.