FDA: Raw Dog Food Labeling
On November 9, 2004, the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine, Office of Management and Communications, published its final revisions as to guidance on raw meat for animals. Entitled, “Manufacture and Labeling of Raw Meat Foods for Companion and Captive Noncompanion Carnivores and Omnivores”, this paper was developed in response to the increasing trend in the use of raw meat animal feeds. If the raw meat is not properly handled, bacteria present on the meat can make people and animals ill, and can contaminate home environments. The FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine issued the guidance to the industry to better protect animals and their owners. The final guidance contains recommendations proposed in the draft guidance, including:

Manufacturers who produce raw meat diets should use USDA/Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)-inspected meat that has been passed for human consumption.

Manufacturers should use measures to prevent bacterial contamination of the meat. The measures manufacturers can use include irradiation, participation in USDA's voluntary inspection program, and use of good manufacturing practices such as those used for human foods.

Manufacturers could also develop and implement Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point programs, which are processes designed to discover the likely source of contamination and take action at those points to prevent problems.

When shipping the raw meat diets that are not freeze-dried, manufacturers should ensure the diet is kept frozen at all times.

Bones used in raw meat pet products should be ground so they will not cause trauma in the animal.

In addition to labels containing all components required by Federal and State statutes and regulations, the guidance recommends the label contain a section titled Guidelines for Safe Use that informs the reader to:

Keep the product frozen until ready to use

Thaw the product in the refrigerator or microwave

Keep the product separate from other foods. Wash working surfaces, utensils (including cutting boards, preparation and feeding bowls), hands, and any other items that touch or contact the product with hot soapy water.

Refrigerate leftover product immediately or discard.

The guidance document also states that the FDA has not seen any objective evidence to suggest that raw meat diets are better than other kinds of diets.


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