Without a dependable, trusted pet food analysis lab, your production — and your entire business — is open to threats from harmful microorganisms that can lead to recalls, bad publicity, and negative outcomes for those who placed trust in your company.
In 2021 alone, there have been 14 recalls and withdrawals from pet food manufacturers. Most of the recalls stem from contaminated dog or cat food, with the bulk of the issues surrounding elevated aflatoxin levels and bacterial contamination from Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.
The threat of Salmonella is well known across many types of food and pet products. Aflatoxins are produced in the mold Aspergillus flavus, which can grow on pet food ingredients like corn, peanuts, and other grains. At high levels, aflatoxins can cause illness, liver damage, and death in pets.
It was aflatoxins that were the cause of a massive recall and dozens of dogs’ deaths in late 2020. The expanded recall centered on corn-based kibble manufactured by Midwestern Pet Foods, Inc., and involved a half-dozen brands. The FDA noted that more than 70 unconfirmed animal deaths were reported in connection to pets eating supposedly contaminated foods.
Besides the hardship and heartbreak inflicted on consumers, recalls inflict potentially massive financial losses for the companies producing the products. Identifying potential threats to prevent such catastrophes remains the primary job and most important task for the work performed by pet food analysis labs.
Besides safeguarding against harmful microorganisms, pet food testing can also present an exact, accurate snapshot of what is in the finished food product. This also aids in the promotion of pet health.
For example, pets with specific conditions — such as kidney failure, obesity, etc. — often require special diets to assist with treatment. Ingredient identification and rancidity testing can also help ensure the products deliver the nutritional value they claim. A trusted pet food analysis lab will help manufacturers produce accurate and reliable labels that consumers can trust to make sure their animal companions are getting what they need.
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Common Bacteria Tested for by Pet Food Analysis Labs
A pet food testing lab can perform various microbiology tests on different types of pet food products. Tests on dry food and treats, including kibble, should analyze ingredient and finished product samples for the presence of Salmonella and E. coli, as these products are made from meat by-products. In fact, tests for those two forms of bacteria should be performed for all pet food products, no matter if they’re dry or wet, or refrigerated or stored at room temperature.
With wet and refrigerated pet foods, testing should also analyze products for the presence of Listeria monocytogenes, a bacteria which leads to the infection of Listeriosis. Able to persist in a variety of environments, consistent testing is needed for L. monocytogenes control.
Canned pet food is at risk as well, as several types of bacteria will flourish in environments that lack oxygen (inside the can). Clostridium botulinum and other anaerobic bacteria can grow inside canned products leading to a gas that produces a bulging can effect. The toxin produced by C. botulinum causes botulism intoxication and can be lethal to both humans and animals.
Microbiological testing is the crux of what a pet food analysis lab can offer pet food manufacturers. But it needs to be a consistent part of any company’s manufacturing process. Regular testing of ingredients at all levels of the supply chain sets up ideal conditions to catch potential issues and threats as early as possible.
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Barrow-Agee is a Trusted Pet Food Analysis Lab
Pet food distributors, processors, and manufacturers should all consistently schedule regular testing to evaluate ingredients and products and identify potential problems as early as possible. When testing and analyzing pet food products, it’s important to partner with a trusted lab that will get you accurate results quickly. Delivering results in a timely fashion will ensure the product wasn’t unnecessarily exposed to changes during transit.
Barrow-Agee Laboratories holds numerous microbiology and testing certifications, which establish stringent standards that must be followed and met. Our team of experts will work efficiently to make sure your samples are tested and the results sent back to you within the stated turnaround time. We’ll help you maintain operations and make the most of your production process.
Often besieged by recalls due to dangerous contaminants, it’s essential for the pet food industry to regularly test its products and remain watchful for potential threats to public health and that of their pets. It will help build trust with the public and protect your bottom line at the same time.
Contact Barrow-Agee Laboratories today to discuss your needs or submit a sample.