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FDA proposes rule for safer pet food

Special to the Courier

In 2007, thousands of dogs and cats died due to food contamination. It took nearly a month of reporting before the cause of the contamination was discovered and a product recall was announced.
The United States Food and Drug Administration has stepped up with its recent proposal of new safety regulations for pet food manufacturers, which mimics regulations for manufacturers of human food. The proposal ensures that manufacturers become proactive. The current system is reactive and kicks in only after lives are lost.
As an apparent follow-up their recent progress report on what is killing and sickening dogs that consume chicken jerky treats made in China, the FDA issued a proposed rule under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act aimed at improving the safety of food for animals.
Issued on Oct. 25, the proposed regulation designed to prevent foodborne illness in both animals and people is open for public comments for 120 days. The proposal is included as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act, which focuses on preventing food safety problems rather than responding to problems after the fact.
The proposed rule would require manufacturers of animal feed and pet food available for purchase in the US to develop a formal plan and have in place procedures to prevent foodborne illness. The rule would also require manufacturers to have plans for correcting any problems that arise.
And, for the first time, animal food facilities would be required to follow proposed current good manufacturing practices, including sanitation.
"The FDA continues to take steps to meet the challenge of ensuring a safe food supply," said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD. "This announcement addresses a critical part of the food system, and we will continue to work with our national and international industry, consumer and government partners as we work to prevent foodborne illness."
The proposed rule would help ensure the safety of food for animals and prevent the transmission of agents in food for animals that could cause foodborne illness in both animals and people. People can get sick by handling contaminated food, including pet food.
The FDA will hold three public meetings on the Proposed Rule for Preventive Controls for Animal Food Facilities - Nov. 21 at the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition in College Park, Maryland; Nov. 25 at the Ralph H. Metcalfe Federal Building in Chicago, Illinoise; and Dec. 6, at the John E. Moss Federal Building in Sacramento, California. For more information, visit http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/ucm247568.htm.