The FDA has announced a proposal to keep the foods our animals eat free of contamination. According to the Humane Society of the United States, families in the United States have over 164 million animals as pets, mostly cats and dogs. Pet health is a major concern for pet owners, and the food pets eats largely contributes to their overall health.
According to a blog posted last week by Daniel McChesney, Ph.D. for the FDA Voice (the FDA’s monthly blog site), the proposed rule’s aim is to establish good manufacturing practices for facilities and personnel involved in manufacturing, processing, packing and holding animal food. It would require facility owners to have a food safety plan and to have controls in place to minimize any potential hazards.
The FDA’s the agency’s Animal Feed Safety System Working has worked for a decade to create the foundation for the proposed regulations. The FDA’s action greatly broadens the scope and target of their efforts in aiming to create a global rule for all pet food manufacture. Up to now, the FDA has largely targeted crisis incidents involving pet food contamination after the fact. They hope the new rule will set high quality control standards that will help eliminate many pet food contamination issues.
Recent crisis contaminations include the 2007 contamination by melamine, spurring recall of Chinese made pet foods after many dogs and cats died from poisoning by this chemical used in making plastic.
In 2012, 30,000 tons of dry dog and cat food were recalled following an outbreak of Salmonella tied to a South Carolina facility. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 47 people in 20 states and two in Canada fell ill from coming in contact with the contaminated food.
Dioxin, a substance linked to cancer and developmental problems in people has also been found in animal food ingredients, and those episodes led to multiple food recalls.
While FDA moved quickly in response to these and other crises tied to contaminated pet foods, the agency’s focus changed with the enactment in 2011 of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. Congress charged FDA to take a more preventive, risk-based regulatory approach.
While the FDA regulates both human and pet food, human food rules are often lumped together. Because pet food is very different from human food, the FDA has chosen to address its contamination rules separately from human contamination rules.
Pets are dependent on human owners for their food sources. Humans have a wider variety of food products available at will to choose from for consumption. Pets don’t, and the safety of their food lies solely with humans.
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