Accelerated by the stay-at-home trends of the pandemic, the market for pet food products continues to grow. According to Alltech’s 2022 Agri-Food Outlook, global pet food production rose 8.2% last year and production in North America jumped 12.7%, fueled by the growing number of pet parents and the trend toward more premium pet food and treat products
As pet food manufacturers protect their products and brands by keeping a tight leash (pun intended) on food safety, they must navigate updated regulatory requirements and unique challenges presented in-demand novel pet products. In this dynamic environment, companies that produce pet food and treats can seek Safe Quality Food (SQF) certification for total assurance of food safety compliance.
SQF Food Safety Code for Pet Food contains the same stringent food safety and quality system requirements as the Code for human food but tailored for ease of reference specifically for the pet food industry. The SQF program for pet products, as with human products, covers food safety culture, preparation, processing, handling and training, among other elements of production.
There are several advantages to achieving SQF certification:
Instinct Pet Food, which became the first raw pet food company to receive an “Excellent” rating from an SQF audit in 2021, noted the benefits of the program. “You can have a product that meets all the regulatory requirements, but SQF certification shows that a company is dedicated to going above and beyond expectations from food safety and food quality standpoint. SQF certification should be one of the key factors for pet parents when making a decision about what to feed their pets,” said Susy Tejayadi, Ph.D., Instinct’s chief scientific officer, in an article in Pet Food Processing.
Pet food manufacturers who want to get started on an SQF program or ensure that they are in line with current practices can get up to speed on the SQF code version 9. The latest version, effective as of May 2021, includes new stand-alone codes for pet food. The SQF codes for the pet food manufacturing sector also detail Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) for the processing of pet food products, in Module 4.
Processors and manufacturers in the pet food industry can download the Edition 9 codes on the SQF website. There, they can learn about the steps to becoming certified, from the shared culture of safety to employee training and hygiene to auditing. SQFI also recently developed a checklist for quick reference and review.