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Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs) Needed in Pet Food Production

By: Mike Koeris on May 3rd, 2017

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Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs) Needed in Pet Food Production

Food Safety  |  CGMPs

Animals are susceptible to foodborne illnesses just like humans are, and pet owners want to feel confident that the food they’re giving their pets is safe from contamination. Any threat to the safety of the food they’re purchasing could diminish their trust in the brand and result in reputational damage.

As pet food recalls become more widespread, it’s important to assess your food safety efforts and take the necessary steps to prevent a costly outcome.

Similar to the way the FDA requires Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs) in the production of human food, standards have been developed for the pet food industry as well.

If your facility is not integrating these practices and applying a proper food safety plan to the production of pet food, you could be at risk of facing a recall, whether voluntary or government-mandated.

Since the enactment of the recent Food Safety Modernization Act, regulations have changed for manufacturers of pet food sold in the U.S. The FDA has finalized baseline CGMP standards for producing safe animal food that take into consideration the unique aspects of the animal food industry and provide flexibility for the wide diversity in types of animal food facilities. Manufacturers must adhere by:

  • Using basic sanitation measures to prevent product contamination
  • Maintaining written plans for preventing foodborne illnesses
  • Complying with FDA-mandated pet food recalls

Be sure that your manufacturing facility is taking the following actions to satisfy the CGMPs in pet food production and avoid a devastating recall.  

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Improve Visibility with an Open View of Your Plant

Without the proper data available, you can’t efficiently identify areas of concern in your pet food safety plan. You may never even realize there’s a problem until it’s too late.

But with centralized data and a solution that enables you to visualize your environmental results on a floor plan, you can easily and quickly determine where action should be taken. You have the power to respond more promptly when your environmental testing results warrant corrective action.

Solid visibility leads to effective monitoring and control efforts. After all, your plans and actions for pet food safety will only be as successful as the knowledge and insight upon which they are based. With the right food safety software in place, you’re fully equipped to:

  • Manage your entire testing program
  • Track all new and historical data
  • Create audit trails and reports
  • Make informed decisions about corrective and preventive actions
  • Document every compliance effort

With a clearer, more holistic picture of your plant’s food safety approach, you can operate based on tangible information, comply with CGMPs in pet food production and make great strides toward preventing a recall.

Ensure Established Procedures Are Embraced and Verified

In order to promote a safe, contamination-free environment, all individuals at every level and in every department must follow your established procedures for fulfilling CGMPs.

Keeping the pet food safe during all phases of production is essential, and you must have solid safety practices for addressing aspects such as:

  • Personnel cleanliness and hygiene
  • Equipment sanitation protocols
  • Temperature requirements
  • Chemical reactions
  • Ingredient mixing
  • Package storage and use

For each of these critical components, you need a verification process to ensure that the method in place protects food quality at every juncture.

Stimulate Strong Communication

Effective, ongoing communication is one of the most important aspects of managing the challenges in a pet food processing plant and carrying out CGMPs. Without it, you’re apt to face significant difficulties in detecting and controlling risk factors as well as mitigating a recall.

Employees should be supplied with the proper knowledge, included in the development of plans and equipped with the best solution for facilitating a fluent exchange of information between departments.

When an issue arises, it’s critical to communicate quickly with upper management and other departments to address the problem and take corrective action. Take advantage of food safety software that enables you to:

  • Communicate food safety data clearly and efficiently
  • Keep all plant departments in constant communication to minimize hazards
  • Send automatic alerts and email notifications to relay presumptive positives and other information
  • Provide clear visibility into all aspects of the remediation processDocument test results, corrective actions, notes, pictures, maintenance forms, statuses and progress
  • Access an organized database of policies, workflows and reporting

Exercise An Effective Testing Method

Unless you’re employing a testing method that delivers quick, thorough and informative results, you can never get ahead of the issues that lead to a pet food recall. Having timely and comprehensive information available enables you to both focus on prevention and effectively respond to challenges as they arise.

But many pet food manufacturers don’t have the capacity to prevent and respond in this manner. Often they don’t receive testing results until at least the next day, which causes corrective actions to lag. In that time, contamination could spread or more infected product could be released.

This barrier of having to wait a minimum of 24-48 hours pushes quality and safety to the back end of your process, and that’s not in line with CGMPs, nor does it help minimize the risk of experiencing a recall.

What you really need is a testing method that features:

  • Actionable results in one shift, cutting down on the turnaround time to receive sample results
  • Testing specificity to reduce false positives, thereby keeping your lines moving and eliminating downtime
  • Efficient, easy-to-use and safe workflows that allow deployment at an in-house plant or a central laboratory

It’s crucial to adopt a testing solution that enables you to obtain same-day, on-site results. This way, you can make food processing, shipping and sanitation decisions much more quickly, enforce preventive controls much more effectively, reduce the risk of a recall much more successfully and meet strict compliance regulations.

Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to ensure the safety of the pet food you’re producing and preserve consumer trust. It’s necessary to take CGMPs in pet food production seriously and avoid the costly consequences of a recall.

Be sure to take this free FSMA Assessment quiz to see if your environmental monitoring program has your pet food manufacturing company as prepared as it needs to be.

Is Your EMP Ready for FSMA?