Over 84 million homes in the United States alone include at least one pet. Feeding your pet the right food is one of the most important things you can do to keep him or her healthy. Fish, horses, reptiles like lizards and snakes, and birds such as parrots and canaries, all make the Top 10 of most popular pets. However, when we think about pet food, we’re most likely to have cat food and dog food in mind.
How is Pet Food Made?
Cat and dog foods can be wet, semi-wet, or come in the form of kibble. Some dehydrated meats, to which pet owners simply add water to restore the moisture content, are also available. Commercially-prepared pet foods vary greatly in quality. In addition, the meat content in cat and dog foods may range from 30 to 95 percent. When choosing the best pet food for your cat or dog, it is important to keep in mind that cats are exclusively carnivorous in the wild, while dogs are omnivores with a strong preference for meat.
Types of Pet Food
Dry pet foods often contain grains, vegetables, and meat. This type of pet food is typically cooked. After this step, the food is given its shape with the help of an extruding machine. Wet cat and dog foods are cooked and then poured into cans or sachets. Dehydrated foods are cooked, and dehydrated. Meanwhile, cat and dog treats are often baked — just like cookies.
Manufacturing Pet Food
Manufacturing pet food is far from simple, however. Throughout the entire process, strict protocols are in place to ensure the food meets, at the minimum, basic safety standards.
Manufacturers must source food from reputable suppliers that are safe for consumption. In the case of meats, these subsequently have to be transported in refrigerated trucks. Pet foods are subject to less scrutiny than foods made for human consumption. However, the Food and Drug Administration must still recognize all ingredients as generally safe. When pet food manufacturers make certain health claims about their food, they must be able to prove that these statements are true.
Where ingredients, such as grains or meats, are in storage for any length of time, facilities must be secure and safe.
Manufacturing Facilities & Process
The manufacturing facility must be hygienic. Manufacturing equipment is typically made of stainless steel. Workers must use hand-washing facilities consistently, and facilities must have proper airflow. Quality and safety testing is an integral part of the manufacturing process at every step. The manufacturer has a set of safety protocols in place internally. Regulators can test adherence to these guidelines at any time. Quality assurance continues after manufacturing is complete. Regulators must also test the integrity and durability of packaging.
Manufacturing companies must list the ingredients clearly and accurately. Just as with human food, manufacturers must place the most abundant ingredient at the top. Packaging companies must steer clear of making misleading claims about the ingredients in cat or dog food. That does not, however, mean that a pet food labeled as “chicken” or “beef” will contain only those ingredients. You must read the entire list to find out more. The fact that cat and dog food has to meet certain safety standards does not, of course, mean that all pet food is healthy. Just like with foods for people, you get what you pay for. Therefore, pet owners should buy the highest quality of pet food they can afford.
Additional Information: Pet Food Safety
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