Skip to main content

Sniffing out the source: Pet food traceability

March 2, 2018
Sniffing out the source: Pet food traceability

Traceability is an important component of pet food safety. Pet owners should know what to look for on the label, just as manufacturers must ensure their process includes supplier verification and minimal risks for contamination.

In the U.S., pet food safety is overseen by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). These organizations each have different roles but are closely linked. The FDA is charged by federal laws to ensure that pet food is safe and truthfully labeled.

Misbranded pet food labels are prohibited under state and federal law. According to the FDA, a truthfully labeled pet food product contains:

  1. An ingredients list: everything used to make the pet food product must be listed as an ingredient and must be deemed by the FDA as safe for use.
  2. Appropriate identification of the product: for example, puppy food must be formulated for the nutritional requirements of a puppy.  
  3. Quantity: how much product is contained in the packaging.
  4. The manufacturer’s or distributor’s name and address: to ensure traceability of the pet food product and its ingredients.

Safety and quality starts with ingredient sourcing

The pet food ingredient panel may list cereal grains such as corn, barley, rice and also seeds, legumes and fruits, ingredients that are susceptible to mold growth. If mold is present, the risk for mycotoxin presence increases significantly, and certain types of mycotoxins cause a health threat to pets through acute toxicity and chronic health issues.

Trace minerals are also listed in the ingredient panel, but the form of the trace mineral used is very important. Are they sulfates, oxides or proteinates? Inorganic trace minerals (sulfates and oxides) may be contaminated with heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium and lead, as well as environmental pollutants like PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and dioxins, carcinogenic substances that pose a health risk to pets.

Peace of mind: When it comes to safety, a step forward is better

Ingredient contamination throughout the supply chain is always possible, and avoidance and minimization of risk is achieved by checks, verifications and validation processes. These processes are all part of a food safety system designed to ensure high standards of ingredients used and total transparency from suppliers to pet food manufacturers.

Manufacturers should ensure pet food safety by sourcing ingredients from approved suppliers — those who have passed rigorous quality and food safety audits and are able to demonstrate a thorough traceability system.

Know your supplier inside out

Quality assurance control programs such as the Alltech Q+™ (Quality Plus) program and the Alltech 37+® mycotoxin analysis are examples of programs developed by Alltech.

Alltech 37+ is designed to reduce the risk of mycotoxin contamination and improve food safety. It tests for more than 40 types of mycotoxins in one sample.

Alltech Q+ is a quality control system unique to Alltech Bioplex® and Sel-Plex® trace minerals. It guarantees that all incoming raw material ingredients (and final products) are tested for heavy metals, dioxins and PCBs and are rejected if they do not comply with Alltech’s standards.

When it comes to our beloved pets’ food, traceably sourced ingredients matter.

Want to learn more?