In the United States, pet food and treat companies have recalled fewer products so far in 2019 than in 2018. Several factors contributed to that high number of recalls in 2018, including the implementation of Food Safety Modernization Act provisions the year before. Despite the relative lull post-FSMA, pet food safety consultants warn that conditions may be ripe for more recalls since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration may pay special attention to pet food, as it does with baby food.
“Recall activity is lower this year so far, but it’s too early to say whether we’re going to return to a steady state of recalls or if last year or this year are just an anomaly,” Chris Harvey, director of recall solutions for Stericycle Expert Solutions, said. “One thing’s for sure, though: pet lovers and activists are putting increased pressure on the FDA to pay attention to pet food ingredients. That, in and of itself, is likely to spur more regulatory activity.”
Pet food recalls surged in 2018, he said. In 2017, small businesses and pet food facilities were required to implement Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs). Larger animal food facilities were required to comply with the CGMPs in 2016 and in 2017 began needing to comply with preventive controls requirements outlined in FSMA.
Harvey’s team at Stericycle Expert Solutions examined recall trends during the past quarter along with industry events to create the report “Stericycle Recall Index Q3 2019.”
FDA focuses on pets as vulnerable population
That pet owners have come to consider their pets as children is no surprise, and U.S. federal officials too may think of dogs and cats in the same category as kids. That consideration may lead to greater scrutiny of pet food production and more potential for recalls in 2020 and beyond.
“The FDA, like other regulatory agencies, puts an emphasis on protecting especially vulnerable populations like children, pets and the elderly,” Harvey said.