Like food meant for human consumption, pet foods are subject to contamination during the manufacturing process. Contamination can include ingredients with incorrect physical or chemical properties as well as contamination from toxins. Automatic sampling of animal food, including wet and dry dog and cat food, helps detect the presence of harmful bacteria such as Listeria and Salmonella to ensure quality and safety for people and pets.
Pet food is regulated by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act that requires all foods be safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances and be truthfully labeled. Ensuring that animals’ food is safe and meets federal regulations is critical to the animals that consume it, the people who care for those animals and the financial well-being and brand image of pet food manufacturers.
Automatic sampling can help producers accurately monitor animal foods to ensure quality, from raw ingredients to finished products. Sampling needs to account for ingredients and additives, toxins and pathogens such as Listeria and Salmonella.
What is Listeria?
All dogs are susceptible to listeriosis, a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. Dog foods that have been found to be contaminated with Listeria, usually cause diarrhea, vomiting and fever. Neurological disease can also occur in a small percentage of cases. Depending on a pet’s immune system, Listeria can be fatal if not treated quickly.
What is Salmonella?
The Salmonella pathogen can cause the salmonellosis illness, as well as typhoid fever or paratyphoid fever. Salmonella usually causes diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps. Salmonella infections are a zoonotic disease, meaning that the infection can spread between animals and people. Even if pets don’t show symptoms of salmonellosis, they can still spread the Salmonella bacteria to people and other pets in the household.
Automatic Sampling Mitigates Contamination
It’s essential to implement an automatic sampling process that provides a statistically significant sample for pathogen testing so you can quickly and accurately detect any contamination issues.
The samples should be taken from a place in the process where the material is well-mixed and won’t introduce bias, such as excluding different-sized food particles. Because pathogens are killed by heating or pasteurization of ingredients and foods, sampling isn't required when there's a “kill step” downstream in the process. A "kill step" includes elevating temperatures to kill bacteria and pathogens, including Listeria and Salmonella.
In addition, the number of samples and sample mass collected should be related mathematically to the confidence level that is being targeted – for example, 95% confidence level requiring 60 samples of the lot.
Implementing an automatic sampler, such as the Sentry Same Side Discharge D2 (SSD2) Sampler, right before or above packaging provides one final check before packaging and shipment. Gathering a representative sample here allows for testing of the product and monitoring product uniformity.
An indexing cabinet (IC) also allows multiple, composite samples to be taken over a production run or shift and reduces the time required to collect the samples. For example, one sample comprised of four grabs can be taken every hour, representing one lot of material. The IC allows up to 24 individual sample containers to be collected in sequence. This reduces required manpower to continually replace sample containers. Further, with the N60 protocol becoming prominent in pet food sampling, this allows for the required sample volume to be collected at the required intervals.
An SBC controller is the brains of the operation. It controls the sampler's frequency and duration of sample sequence while also rotating the IC after each sample is completed, providing on-demand grab samples for spot checks of more than a dozen different recipes corresponding to different products. Finally, a sample diverter allows collection of intermittent grab samples.
Learn more about how you can protect operators, ensure the integrity of your samples, and ensure compliance with many regulations.