The Monitor

Production Process Insights

Keeping Pet Food Safe with Automatic Samplers

Posted by Tod Myers on 1/13/20 8:00 AM


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 brand image of the manufacturers. Automatic representative sampling of animal food helps ensure quality and safety for both people and pets.

In March 2007, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discovered that dogs and cats were getting sick and dying from pet food contaminated with melamine, a chemical compound found in glue, flame retardants and plastic, and cyanuric acid, a chemical component in pool disinfectants. Occurrences of bacteriological contamination, such as this, have also led to numerous recalls.   

Since then, the FDA has added new and more stringent pet food regulations, protocols and safety measures, including the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) passed in 2011. These new regulations have led manufacturers to improve their chain of custody, production and sampling procedures to ensure product safety for both pet food and livestock feed.

Yet, pet food recalls still occur regularly, and the heightened awareness of these recalls have increased consumer concern over whether their animals’ food is safe.

Automatic animal feed sampling

Like human food, pet food is regulated by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFD&C Act) that requires all foods be safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances and be truthfully labeled.

Traditionally, sampling pet foods has been done manually or by segregating a unit after packaging.  However, manual sampling can introduce bias into the sample. Since most manual samples are spot samples consisting of one “grab,” the sample is not representative of the entire lot in the process.

Automated sampling allows a composite sample to be collected from the process by taking smaller, incremental samples of the lot. Composite samples are much more representative of the lot and statistically more significant for a higher level of confidence in laboratory test results.

Automatic sampling can help producers accurately monitor animal foods to ensure quality from raw ingredients to finished products, including:

  • Ingredients that have been frozen, stored for years and/or expired 
  • Substituted material for those on the labels
  • Too many additives 
  • Potential toxins such as Pentobarbital, heavy metals, BPA (bisphenol A-leached from plastics), etc.
  • Potential listeria and salmonella 

Going with the sampling flow 

Pet food manufacturers make a variety of products, each with their own unique ingredient blend and physical characteristics. Because most pet food processing lines will produce a wide range of products, the sampler must be able to manage the variety of mass flows and product sizes and still be able to get a representative sample.

Additionally, the producer should be able to sample without breaking the product so that physical characteristics can be confirmed. It’s also important to only remove samples and not re-introduce product back into the process.

Case study: ensuring product safety

An animal food producer established an automatic sampling system to ensure the quality and safety of its end products.

To do this, they implemented a Same Side Discharge D2 (SSD2) Sampler with a “gentle touch,” center less auger to ensure that product of differing sizes and shapes made on the same line can be collected with one universal sampler. The center-less auger ensures that the product will not be physically degraded during sampling and that sampled product is not re-introduced into the process stream.

With the help of this sampler, an indexing cabinet, SBC control, I.C. cabinet and sample diverter, they can take multiple, composite samples over a production run and provide on-demand grab samples for more than a dozen different recipes. Thus, reducing the time required to collect the samples and ensuring product quality and safety.

Testing for and identifying contaminants and composition of pet foods and other animal nutrition is a key element in the manufacturing process. Automatic representative sampling of animal food helps ensure quality and safety for both people and pets.

Learn more about how you can protect operators, ensure the integrity of your samples, and ensure compliance with many regulations.

Automatic Sampling: Why It's Essential for Food & Beverages

Topics: Food & Beverage, Solids & Powder

Written by Tod Myers