5 Ways to Prevent Cat Food Recalls

PetMD Editorial
Updated: October 16, 2020
Published: December 12, 2014
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Why Do Pet Food Recalls Happen

In order to fully understand how cat food recalls can be prevented, you must know why they occur in the first place. There are many different reasons a pet food recall may occur, but one of the more common reasons is that a contaminant, such as Salmonella or E. coli, has been found in the food. This type of contamination can be especially dangerous because it not only may cause disease in the animal but in those who handle the contaminated food carelessly. Recalls can also occur when a particular food is not formulated correctly (contains an excess or deficiency of a specific nutrient) or mislabeled (the pet food that is contained in the can or the bag is not what the label states).


So while accidents may occur on occasion, there are things that a pet food manufacturer can do to help prevent them from happening.

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1. Keep Pet Food Operations 'In-house'

Manufacturing their own pet food rather than outsourcing the process to a third party is one of the most effective ways companies can prevent cat food recalls. By operating their own manufacturing facility, a pet food company has much greater control over the protocols practiced in the facility.

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2. Source Ingredients Carefully

Sourcing ingredients from reputable locations that have high quality control standards is another step that pet food companies can take to reduce the occurrence of cat food recalls. Sourcing from questionable areas may lead to the attainment of poor quality ingredients, which may or may not be contaminated and/or otherwise adulterated.

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3. Separate Cooked and Uncooked Ingredients

Because many potential contaminants are present in uncooked ingredients, it is important to separate these ingredients from those that have already been cooked, processed, and are ready for packaging. A pet food manufacturing plant should have physically separate areas for raw ingredients and cooked ingredients. Strict protocols should be in place to guard against transferring contaminants from one area to another. These protocols may include separate ventilation systems as well foot baths, protective clothing, and other hygienic procedures which employees must practice when moving from the “raw” area to the “clean” area of the facility.

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4. Set High Quality Control Standards

There should be an array of standard protocols and quality control tests that are performed routinely in the facility. Cleaning procedures must be strict and must take place regularly and without fail. Equipment should be maintained and inspected regularly to ensure that all is in proper working order. All employees should understand the importance of these protocols and know exactly what is required of them in terms of hygiene. Detecting and correcting weaknesses in protocols and failures in performance can help avoid a problem and a potential recall.

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5. Initiate 'Hold and Release' Protocols

A “hold and release” program is a protocol that can be especially useful in preventing recalls. In these programs, the finished product is held from being shipped for sale until all testing has been completed and the results of the testing have been obtained and confirmed as being negative. In this way, potentially contaminated or otherwise faulty pet food never reaches the sales chain, never makes it into the hands of pet owners, and never needs to be recalled.

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