Thursday, July 8, 2010

Will eased safety rules for homemade goods spread to food for pets?

A recent article from the Associated Press (AP) caught my eye. It described how several states--Wisconsin, Wyoming, Maine and Tennessee were all referenced--are easing licensing and inspection regulations for homemade goods sold at farmers markets, on small farms and in similar venues.
As more US consumers become interested in buying local or locally grown food, the article says, a few states are creating exemptions for "amateur chefs" who want to sell their extra jams, canned goods and the like. The exemptions are starting a debate about balancing the need for food safety with "regulatory common sense" and causing anxiety among food processors who are still required to follow inspection and licensing rules.
This got me thinking about how many times I've heard owners of small petfood companies, especially those specializing in raw products, describe how they started making food for their own dogs in their kitchens, then began sharing the food with friends and acquaintances and then, based on the response, decided to make and market the foods on a larger scale.
Many of these start-ups have gone on to become successful petfood manufacturers that now have state-of-the-art safety and processing programs. But how many of them start out giving away or selling their homemade products without any sort of safety standards in place? As long as they are taking care to not subject their own pets to unsafe foods, should we all trust that those foods, like the homemade goods for humans mentioned in the AP article, need not meet licensing and inspection regulations?
What do you think?

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