PET Food Processing - September 2020 - 21

TESTING
the entire time, working with different labs to gather a
"wealth of information for not much spend." Rice explained that most labs will run tests to confirm the
full label guarantee requirements of the Association of
American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), including
protein, fiber, fat and minerals. Testing can also determine profiles as specific as individual amino acids. The
company also uses third-party lab testing to ensure its
products comply with federal regulations, such as the
Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which requires
pet food to be free of Salmonella, a pathogen found in
various protein ingredients.
"Pathogen management is part of our preventive controls
in our animal food safety plan," Rice said. "Showing our
validation program around pathogen management is key."

Expertise plus equipment
Over the years, what has impressed him so much is how
the technology for testing ingredients at labs has evolved.
For example, he said, years ago, testing for Salmonella was
done on a cultural basis - that is, taking a culture of the
product on a swab, putting it on a plate and analyzing the
results in a week or 10 days to see if the bacteria manifested
itself. Now, laboratories are looking at Salmonella on a molecular level, using RNA and DNA sequences to determine
within 24 hours if the bacteria is present in the sample.
"To bring that technology in-house would be expensive and not easy to manage," Rice said, adding that not
only would a company need to invest in the technology,
but it would also need to hire the right expertise, a technical person who could maintain the equipment and manage the platform over the long-term as the science evolves.
Although sometimes it is tempting to bring testing services
in-house, with some equipment selling online for $5,000 to
$50,000 off-the-shelf, there are many things that should be
factored into this decision.
"Just because to buy the equipment looks like a low entry point, you need to have someone who understands the
equipment, the tolerances and can crank out good data,"
he said. "You also need to consider that sometimes testing requires chemical reagents, Environmental Protection
Agency requirements - a lot of externalities that I don't
have to fool with!"
Over the years, he has seen many new laboratories competing in this space, which has helped to drive down costs.
"It has really become an affordable tool you can use to
supplement your production and quality measures," Rice
said. "...Even for $50, you can get a lot of testing done and
quickly. Generally speaking, it is so competitive in this
space that if you are sending samples out on Monday,
it is not unreasonable to get most of the data needed by
Friday afternoon."

FOOD SAFETY

One way he recommends managing
costs is by developing long-term relationships with your contacts at
the lab. By meeting biannually
or annually with some of its lab
representatives, Perfection Pet
Foods has been able to share
the volumes of products they
expect will need testing over the
year, allowing them to better negotiate and cut costs over the life of
the contract.

Partners in data
Another benefit to forming a long-term
relationship is being able to view the
last two to three years' worth of
ingredient data. With ingredient
variability over time, the company is able to track trends
with minimal effort, sometimes analyzing over 50 data
points all at the tips of their fingers. This helps them in making
purchasing decisions with suppliers
and provides accountability to the retailers that sell their products.
While their in-house operators are trained on
how to collect, label and send representative samples
to the labs, Rice said that several technical staff get involved in regularly assessing the data with the management team. The company also audits how the relationship is working with their third-party labs, noting that
should they start experiencing administrative or clerical errors in data reporting, they work to resolve them
as quickly as possible with the labs and, at times, have
moved their samples to another testing service without
disrupting production.
Rice does not see a downside to using third-party labs to
test the safety and quality of his company's products.
"By using a third-party lab, they can focus on the
scientific expertise - what they do best - and we can
focus on what we do best: manufacturing pet food,"
he said.
For those manufacturers looking to get started in this
space, his best piece of advice for them is to reach out to
their quality assurance peers throughout the industry, such
as those on the AFIA Quality and Animal Food Safety
Committee or within the Pet Food Institute, to get pointed
in the right direction. Industry referrals, reputation, accreditations, the types of equipment used, and costs are all
good factors to consider in the decision.
PFP

Top: Validation from
outside testing services
can be as strong tool
supporting a brand's
transparency programs.
Perfection Pet Foods

Bottom: Competition
among third-party
providers has driven
down costs and
processing times.
Sosland Publishing

www.petfoodprocessing.net | September 2020 | PET FOOD PROCESSING

21


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PET Food Processing - September 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of PET Food Processing - September 2020

PET Food Processing - September 2020 - 1
PET Food Processing - September 2020 - 1
PET Food Processing - September 2020 - 2
PET Food Processing - September 2020 - 3
PET Food Processing - September 2020 - 4
PET Food Processing - September 2020 - 5
PET Food Processing - September 2020 - 6
PET Food Processing - September 2020 - 7
PET Food Processing - September 2020 - 8
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http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2020_09_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2020_06_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2020_03_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2019_12_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2019_10_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2019_09_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2019_06_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2019_03_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2018_12_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2018_09_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2018_06_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2018_03_01
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