You're likely familiar with food recalls tied to Salmonella contamination, but did you know that Salmonella is also a common cause of pet food recalls? Non-medicated animal feed has limited regulation, yet frequent recalls (such as the recent six-state recall of teriyaki-chicken dog treats) have sparked concerns about the industry's oversight.
A newly proposed rule under FDA's Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) seeks to hold all facilities that manufacture, process, pack or hold animal feed and pet food to equal processing standards.
From Food Safety News:
One of the big gaps [Dr. Dan] McChesney said the rule will fill is the need for [Good Manufacturing Practices] GMPs. They cover various aspects of operations such as good hygiene practices, proper cleaning and maintenance of plants and grounds, pest control, proper use and storage of toxic cleaning compounds, following adequate sanitation principles, and proper labeling of ingredients and finished animal food.
Right now, there are no GMPs for any part of the animal feed manufacturing industry except medicated feed. This rule will expand it to the entire feed industry, but FDA still needs to work out just how that’s going to happen.
Kirsten Theisen, director of Pet Care Issues for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), also made reference to the 2007 pet food recall fiasco, where melamine-tainted pet food products from China led to kidney failure in many cats and dogs worldwide. In that case, Theisen said, "we learned that we can't trust many manufacturers to, completely out of good will, produce high quality food for our pets and other animals."
This is exactly why it's important to empower honest employees who wish to speak up when they see concerns in the pet food supply. Fortunately, FIC worked hard to include a strong whistleblower provision in FSMA (enacted in 2011) that secured protections for corporate workers exposing FDA violations (pet food workers included).
The new rule would apply to both domestic and imported pet food products. The FDA is accepting public comments through February 26, 2014.
Sarah Damian is New Media Associate for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.