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FDA Wants to Make Pet Food Safer

Update Date: Oct 28, 2013 02:45 PM EDT

Over the past six years or so, hundreds of dogs and cats have fallen sick after consuming jerky treats made in China. Even though this is not the first case of pet food being potentially dangerous, the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finally decided to take action. The FDA just proposed new rules that would improve the safety of pet food and animal feed.

The FDA's proposal stems from a food safety law that was passed by Congress three years ago. Those laws were focused on stopping food contamination at the source before it begins to afflict people or animals. The proposal borrows that same concept of preventing contamination from starting by requiring all manufacturers that sell pet food and animal feed in the United States to follow specific sanitation practices. These sanitations rules apply to companies that import these products as well. There will also be detailed food safety plans that these manufacturers must follow.

The guidelines are designed to ensure that the food farm animals, such as cows, pigs and chickens, and pets get are safe enough to eat. The proposal states that all manufacturers that sell pet food and animal feed in the U.S will need to create a written plan that describes how the facility will prevent food-born illnesses. The plan will then need to be put into effect.

"We know from experience that when the system doesn't deliver, people get irate," Michael R. Taylor the deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, said according to the New York Times. "It's all about having a systematic plan to make the food safe."

The FDA hopes that these new regulations will force companies to try their hardest in preventing contamination especially at production points with the highest risk of contamination. Companies will have to re-evaluate their plan every three years and improve upon them if problems arise.

Currently, the FDA waits for an outbreak to occur and then handles the problem. These new guidelines would hopefully reduce the number of outbreaks. The FDA also explained that these new guidelines could make investigations into the source of an outbreak easier. Currently, the FDA is still unsure what exactly caused the jerky contamination.

The importance of these safety measures goes beyond simply keeping pets healthy. Foodborne illnesses in pet food could also be transferred to humans, who come into contact with the products everyday.

The FDA estimated that the new guidelines would cost the industry around $130 million per year. Smaller manufacturers will have more time to comply with the new regulations. The FDA will take actions against companies that do no comply. Actions include warning letters, advising consumers, seizing dangerous products and prosecuting the producers. 

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