Friday, July 9, 2010

Two sides to petfood safety

It seems every day brings notice of a new petfood recall due to potential Salmonella contamination. Most people in the industry would tell you this is not because petfood manufacturers are making more unsafe products or not following safety or hygiene protocols; rather, it's because the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has greatly stepped up its inspections (many unannounced) of manufacturing facilities and rules on reporting the findings from those inspections.
And with Salmonella and all its various strains being among the organisms that are nearly always present in minute amounts, it's very likely to show up in an inspection, even if it's nowhere near the raw materials, processing areas or finished products and even if the amount present is nowhere near enough to cause any sort of problem.
We all know food safety is of the utmost importance and that consumers demand not just the highest levels of safety but also transparency and communication about it. This is especially true in petfood since the massive 2007 recalls in the US. Though those were caused by intentional adulteration with melamine, a substance that normally does not even enter the same conversation as petfood, the 2007 situation made pet owners, especially in the US, keenly aware of what goes into their furry charges' food and how it's made.
But are the stepped-up inspections and reporting regulations a classic case of overkill? One industry member says many small companies don't have the costs to meet the increased regulations built into their business models and even larger companies that can afford the latest equipment, programs and consultants will never recoup their costs, though they'll likely try by raising the prices of their products. Will that cause upscale pet owners--who to date have proven wonderfully recession resistant--to finally say "enough!" and draw the line at what they'll pay for a bag of superpremium dog food?
What's your experience and opinion on ensuring safety without breaking the bank?

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