Updated: Jun 16, 2021
In view of World Food Safety Day on June 7, 2020, I wanted to take some time to draw attention to this important topic and express Red Dog Blue Kat’s company goals and objectives when it comes to food safety. We care about the health of your pets and feel a huge responsibility to ensure our pet food is safe for consumption. Many of our team members, including myself, are pet parents as well, who count on the safety measures we have in place for our own furry friends.
While pet food manufacturing facilities in Canada are not inspected and audited by the CFIA, we are expected by Health Canada to provide safe pet food in a manner we feel suitable. At RDBK, we have chosen to implement the gold standard food safety system that is globally recognized for human food…HACCP. In addition to implementing HACCP, which is targeted for human food, we have implemented the Preventive Controls for Animal Food guidelines from the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in the US. Combining both recognized food safety protocols gives us the benefits of managing foodborne risks as well as nutritional requirements specific to the overall health and safety of pets.
What is HACCP?
HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points and is the foundation of our food safety management system. The following prerequisite programs outline the general food safety principles:
Supply Chain and Storage Program
In addition, we have assessed the unique hazards in both our Bones and Fish Line and our Meals Line, and implemented measures to control these hazards in two separate HACCP Plans.
Essentially, this means we abide by the same food safety standards followed by companies manufacturing food for human consumption. We are not cutting any corners, and in fact, conduct more regular testing and take more measures to control pathogens because our products are intended to be consumed raw.
How Is RDBK Controlling Pathogens?
Our most critical control measure is ensuring we only use the best suppliers for our ingredients. To make our Approved Supplier List, we require each company’s food safety documents, which typically include a Letter of Guarantee and annual copies of their audits (food safety, animal welfare, and/or organic certificate). The CFIA, or the suppliers’ respective countries’ food safety monitoring bodies, regularly audits these suppliers and ensures they are meeting criteria for controlling pathogens.
To ensure we are never introducing pathogens through our environment, we implement a robust Environmental Monitoring Program, Quality Management Program, Sanitation Program, and Personnel Training Program. We conduct weekly (five swabs per week) environmental listeria testing as well as daily ATP swabs (two per day) on our equipment to verify that our sanitation practices are effective. In addition, our sanitizer concentration is verified weekly and our facility is monitored routinely for the presence of yeast and mold.
We use probiotics and bacteriophages, nature’s way of controlling pathogens, where appropriate . The species-specific probiotics in our meals produce substances that inhibit the growth of pathogens, such as C. Perfringens, S. Typhimurium, and Enteropathogenic E. Coli. Our bacteriophages originate from the Netherlands and are CFIA, USDA and FDA GRAS approved for use to target and kill Salmonella and E Coli 0157:H7. For more information, see this great video on The Bacteriophage
How Is RDBK Handling The Risk of Parasites, Such as Worms and Cysts?
We have assessed the risk of parasites, worms, and all associated cysts in our raw materials and finished products. Based on scientific data of required times and temperatures to inactivate parasites and cysts, we have determined the risk to be extremely low or non-existent due to the length of time our raw materials and finished goods are stored in our freezer, set at -20°C. Product is stored for a week and upwards of months at this temperature, which would render most parasites or cyst, unviable.
We also take the added step of blast freezing our meals (quick frozen in a blast freezer set at -30°C) for a few hours, which quickens the time required to inactivate parasites and cysts.
What Testing Does RDBK Conduct On It's Finished Products?
Smell and visual tests are done throughout the manufacturing process and on every batch of finished product.
Every batch is tested for indicator organisms—Enterobacteriaceae Count Plate for poultry meals and E. Coli/Coliform Count Plate for all other proteins.
Additional testing for Salmonella and E. Coli 0157:H7 is prompted whenever their respective indicator plate counts are higher than normal.
Random testing is conducted for Listeria Monocytogenes, as historically, all finished products tested by a third-party lab have tested “Non-Detectable” for Listeria Monocytogenes.
Viability of probiotics are routinely confirmed by an outside lab.
Every batch, other than fish, is tested on my dog, Brody. Fish products are tested on another team member’s dog.
We also have a group of taste-testing volunteers who try every new product and formula that RDBK produces before it enters the marketplace.
Is RDBK's Food Safety Program Audited By An External Party?
Yes, we use SAI Global as our external auditor to verify our adherence to HACCP on an annual basis. Our team just scored 96.61% on our most recent audit on May 7, 2020. I am proud to give a shout out to our amazing team for their ongoing commitment to food safety. Although we were in the middle of dealing with COVID-19 and many other food companies were cancelling their audits, our team courageously chose to go ahead with our scheduled audit, deeming “food safety” to be an essential part of our business.
We strongly believe that all Canadian consumers, including pets, have a right to safe, healthy, and nutritious food. In line with the theme for World Food Safety Day—“Food Safety, Everyone’s Business”—at RDBK we are committed to doing our part to keep your pets and families safe.