Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Where does pet food rank among reported food safety incidents?

The June/July issue of Food Safety magazine includes an article about how food safety is a leading concern for CEOs of human food companies. The authors -- Pat Conroy, Frank Oehl and Craig Henry, PhD, of Deloitte & Touche LLP -- include a couple figures from the US Food and Drug Administration's Reportable Food Registry Annual Report released earlier this year.

One figure (labeled 2 on this page in Food Safety) shows that of 229 entries to the Reportable Food Registry from September 8, 2009, through September 9, 2010, 86, or 37.6%, were because of Salmonella, followed by 80 (34.9%) for undeclared allergen/intolerances. (That Salmonella ranks highest is no surprise, especially considering a recent report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that Salmonella infections in humans increased 10% from 2009 to 2010.)

Keep in mind that these entries encompassed human food, animal feed and pet food. In the other figure (1) on the page, the number of food safety reports is broken down by "commodity," with animal feed and petfoods lumped into one. From this view, it appears entries for animal feed/petfood, at 28, far outweighed all others.

But diving into the original FDA report, you'll see that isn't the case: If you add up all the "commodities" comprising human food entries, as this figure (4) shows, human food represented the majority of the 229 entries into the registry with 201, 88% of the total. Pet food, with only 13 entries, was just 5%, while animal feed 15 entries, or 7%.

Another figure in the FDA report, which once again combines animal feed with pet food, shows 13 of those 28 entries were because of Salmonella, with three for foreign objects and 12 for an undefined "other."

While this sort of data and detail can make one's eyes glaze over after a while, the authors of the Food Safety article cite another compelling statistic. A consumer study their company conducted on food showed, among other things, that 73% of respondents are more concerned now than five years ago about the food they eat. That's up from 65% in 2010.

With people increasingly treating pets like human family members, that concern no doubt extends to pet food.

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