PFMA responds to research from the Netherlands on raw feeding and how the commercial sector in the UK is leading the way on safety and standards
The Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) is the leading trade body for the UK pet food industry and represents 76 members, which accounts for over 90% of the market. PFMA members produce a wide range of products including dry, wet and commercial raw pet foods. Within our membership, we have a dedicated working group for commercial raw producers, and safety is a fundamental area of focus for this group.
Whilst PFMA is aware of the recent research from the Netherlands, we do not think it is representative of the UK market, which is well established, is represented by an industry trade body and is responsible for driving safety and standards forward within the sector, having recently published new sector guidelines for the manufacture of commercial raw pet food.
The guidelines have created a best practice, promoting hygiene rules that should be followed by everyone when handling any raw meat. A key recommendation in the guideline is for handling instructions on labels and packages of commercial raw products.
Whilst there are risks to handling raw meat, whether for pets or people, raw manufacturers spend significant time and resource educating their clients to follow best hygiene practices. This education is also communicated by the PFMA.
Michael Bellingham, PFMA Chief Executive, advises: “We have seen a growing interest in raw pet food and we know from our contact with the veterinary profession that vets are getting more questions from pet owners on these diets and how they can feed them safely. These guidelines have been developed in conjunction with Defra, the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), Public Health England (PHE) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) with the aim of better protecting the health of the public and pets alike.
We recommend the following good hygiene practice:
1. Purchase products that are in good condition. You should see no visible signs of damage to the packaging such as dents, tears, discolorations, etc.
2. Wash your hands with hot water and soap after handling either your pet or their food
3. Wash all surfaces that have been in contact with raw meat
4. After each use, wash your pet’s bowls, dishes and utensils with soap and hot water, rinse properly and dry before the next use
5. Correctly store unsealed containers/open bags to limit any risk of cross contamination
6. When storing pet food in the fridge ensure raw products are at the bottom. Storage instructions will be on the package of the commercial raw product.
· All commercially prepared pet foods, are subject to stringent legislation and tests, including microbiological testing, to ensure they are safe both for pets to eat and humans to handle
· This study is a relatively small sample size, only 35 samples across 8 brands in one small geographical area, so cannot really be seen to be representative of the raw market in the UK.
· The sector guidelines include a feeding protocol, which is evidence based to ensure safety with regards to parasites
· Commercial raw pet foods have been around for many years and PFMA has represented commercial raw producers for 40 years
· One of the most downloaded factsheets on the PFMA website is ‘Responsible Raw Feeding for Cats and Dogs’.
· A list of PFMA commercial raw producers is available on our website.