FDA proposes new rules to improve pet food safety
Safety tips for pet ownersThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends these safety tips to prevent illness from pet food:
-- Wash your hands with soap and water right after feeding your pets.
-- Keep children 5 and younger away from areas where pets are fed.
-- When possible, avoid feeding your pet in the kitchen, to prevent getting germs from pet food on people food.
-- When possible, store pet food away from any area where human food is stored or prepared.
-- Store dry pet food in its original bag inside a clean, dedicated plastic container with a lid. Store dry pet food and pet treats in a cool, dry place under 80 degrees F.
-- Promptly refrigerate or discard unused, leftover wet pet food and containers (cans, pouches).
For more on the proposed rule for animal food safety, visit: www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates.
The proposal is part of the Food Safety Modernization Act, passed by Congress in 2010 and signed into law by President Barack Obama on Jan. 4, 2011.
The Food Safety Modernization Act gave the FDA new authority to hold imported foods to the same standards as domestic foods. And that includes the food we feed our pets and farm animals.
In September, the state health department announced that 21 people contracted salmonella after coming in contact with chicken jerky pet treats made by a New Hampshire company and sold in several stores statewide.
Task force review
She said a task force has been reviewing the first two rules proposed under FSMA since they were first released last January. Those two rules concern produce safety and preventive controls.
Gornnert said many pet owners may not realize that handling food or treats is a health risk. "If you don't wash your hands after feeding your dog, you could possibly ingest the micro-organisms and you could get sick."
After the Chinese pet food scare in 2007, the FDA reported getting about 18,000 calls from anxious pet owners.
And the FDA continues to report frequent recalls of pet food and animal feed on its website (www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls). There have been 31 voluntary recalls posted so far this year.
Tony Canzano is the owner of Little Critters pet stores in Exeter and Raymond. He said he welcomes the greater scrutiny of pet foods the FDA is proposing.
"Oh yeah, definitely," he said. "A recall is not good for anybody. It costs us a ton of money, between pulling stuff off the shelves and customers getting angry."
His customers have gotten more cautious about what they feed their pets, Canzano said. "Is there anything in it from a foreign country?" is a question he hears far more frequently these days.
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