pet food safety

Booming Pet Food Industry

Pets are considered an integral part of many families and households. Globally, it is estimated that more than half of consumers have a pet in their home. What’s more, dogs and cats continue to be the most popular pet choice. With an estimated 8.5 million dogs and 7.5 million cats in the UK alone, it’s no surprise the pet food industry is witnessing rapid growth.

According to a report conducted by Zion Market Research, the U.S. pet food market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of slightly above 3.36%, to reach $30.01 billion in 2022.

ensuring pet food safety

Negative Impact of Product Recalls

Despite being such a large and growing market, the pet food market still has plenty of challenges to face. These include product contamination risks, recalls and various regulations.

Product contamination and recalls in particular can be detrimental to pet food brands. They can severely affect their credibility. But, unfortunately, they do happen.

That’s why it’s fundamental that pet food manufacturers have certain controls in place and adhere to hygienic (or sanitary) conditions to minimise or prevent such devastation. Maintaining a hygienic environment involves keeping the machinery that processes and transfers the product in a safely clean condition. This includes keeping the insides of pipework clean.

More so than ever, pet food manufacturers are incorporating product recovery (pigging) into their process plants and pipework. That’s because the benefits of pigging technology for processing industries are substantial.

Humanisation Driving Trends in Pet Food

Along with product recalls, and contamination incidents, trends are increasingly evident in the pet food industry. One of the biggest trends shaping the pet food industry in recent years is humanisation, whereby pets are increasingly treated like children. As such, demand for pet food labelled “grain free”, “natural”, or “organic”, are continuously dominating larger portions of shelf space.

But, what does humanisation exactly mean?

More so than ever, pet owners are considering their pets to be equals and fully-fledged members of the family. So, they are willing to splash out on their beloved pets, and imitate the types of products they buy for themselves. They desire pet food products that addresses the health issues currently influencing human food production, such as artificial preservatives.

Therefore, consumers are shifting towards healthy and nutritious food for their pets, which closely resemble their own food products. Because of this, trends such as natural and grain-free, free-from, limited ingredients, and even raw food diets have migrated into pet food and have had an impact on how dogs and cats are being fed.

Rise of Raw Pet Food, but is it Safe?

In the past few years, sales of raw pet food have surged in sales. But in this growing and niche market, how important are safe practices?

Raw pet food, which comprises of fresh, frozen or free-dried varieties, claim that it will keep pets healthier, increase their energy levels and greatly improve their skin, coat and dental health. Yet, it’s been met with extreme controversy – and serious health and safety concerns.

Due to these raw pet food formulations containing ingredients such as raw fish, pork and beef, there is an inherent risk of contamination occurring. That’s why it’s imperative that precautionary steps are taken to ensure product safety. Raw food must be properly prepared to avoid bacteria or parasites like salmonella or listeria, which carries a risk to both human and animal health.

As pet owners are increasingly drawn to raw diet pet food, manufacturers must therefore face the challenge of increasing production levels while maintaining the safety and quality standards of the pet food for both pet and owner.

pet food safety

Stringent Safety Measures

Regardless of the pet food – whether regular or commercially-produced raw food – stringent standards for product safety, hygiene and manufacturing practices need to be in place.

For instance, many pet food manufacturers will routinely clean the lines after process runs. In many cases, manufacturers will have a diverse portfolio of product lines, under their various brand i.e. organic, free-from or regular pet food.

When changing from one product to another, there will always be product residue that will cling to the pipe walls or remains in the pipeline from the previous batch run. This will need to be removed, in order to reduce the risk of contamination and ensure the safe production of pet food.

cat eating food

HPS Pigs

In hygienic (often called sanitary) conditions, many manufacturers use devices known as ‘pigs’ to recover product, remove build up and clean the pipes. HPS supplies a range of process pigs for hygienic and sanitary applications that are extremely efficient, flexible and fully detectable.

HPS patented process pigs are also made from FDA approved silicon materials. This makes them ideal for the hygienic or sanitary conditions essential for pet food production.

As well as being a benchmark of the industry, HPS pigs and pigging systems significantly improve product yield, reduce flush waste and speed up changeovers.

Find Out More

HPS have worked with a variety of pet food manufactures to maximise their yield, minimise contamination risks and improve their operational efficiency. For more information about how hygienic and sanitary pipeline pigging products and systems can benefit your processing operation, then please get in touch.

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