We're continuing our Hidden Dangers: Prevention series this week by turning our attention to animal and pet foods. Each product segment in the food industry faces unique risks and hazards related to the processes and equipment they use. We're highlighting some segment-specific hidden dangers and recommending prevention measures to stop them in their tracks.
Many ingredients are introduced into animal food. Examples include, but are not limited to: drugs, growth promoting hormones, and special nutrients which could have a negative effect in different species by cross-contact or cross-contamination.
One such ingredient that can have dangerous effects on certain animal species is copper. Traces of copper can be poisonous for sheep, but not for horses. Other examples include sodium chloride which can be harmful to chickens, but is beneficial for horses.
It is imperative that product changes between species and types of medicine or food processing have a clean break procedure to ensure that traces of any harmful elements are removed from the line.
One of the biggest challenges animal and pet food manufacturers face is the water used as an ingredient to make bran, corn, and other grain-based foods. Wheat can easily create conditions that allow the growth of fungi and bacteria when in contact with water.
In cattle feed factories, regular cleanups are necessary to minimize dry conditions that may cause microbiological problems and generate toxins. Cleaning failures can lead to the presence of fungi that produce mycotoxins which can reach humans through animals (i.e., dairy from cows to milk in the supermarket).
Wet cleaning and sanitation are very important for pet food manufacturers because their recipes commonly include meat, fish, and other sources of protein which can allow pathogens to grow and pass to pets and their owners. Pathogens of concern include hemorrhagic E. Coli, Salmonella, and Listeria which can grow in belt conveyors, mixers, drains, and other production areas.