By Jaan Koel
Human food and pet food are becoming increasingly aligned in terms of how and where ingredients are sourced, how and where the foods are processed, how they’re packaged; and how they’re distributed, regulated and, if need be, recalled. Pet “parents” tend to have high standards for the safety and nutritional content of food for their furry friends, and a pet food recall can cause just as much distress as a human food recall. The causes are often the same—they include bacterial infections (i.e., Salmonella, listeria, e-coli, etc.), material contamination (flakes of steel, aluminum, plastic or other materials in the packaged food), improper formulation (wrong nutrient levels), undeclared allergens, and misleading labels, among others.
A big difference, however, is the frequency of recalls. “Compared to human food recalls, pet food on a per capita basis is a small fraction,” says Martha Wilder, Executive Director of the Pet Food Association of Canada. “Most recalls that happen in North America are from imported foods from Asia. About 50% of the product sold in Canada is imported from the USA, and Canadian companies have a strong export market. We have a very high safety record and few recall issues to speak of from domestic or foreign manufacturers.”