The formulators, manufacturers, ingredient suppliers and procurement companies, transporters, distributors and retailers must responsibly deliver the product. If not, the regulatory community gets involved.

Pet owners need to select the correct pet food for their pets, assure it is fed correctly and practice safe food handling to keep themselves and their pets healthy.

Pet owners should not purchase salvage or broken-bag products. If a bag of pet food has been broken open, the original guarantor is no longer responsible for what happens. Opened bags could also contain mixed contents, which would not likely conform to the nutritional standard of the original components.

Pet food should provide nutrition. It should provide pets with necessary nutrients in the correct amounts and ratios for their age and condition. That information is on the label, which pet owners are responsible for reading.

Owners can become so attached to companion animals that they become members of the family. Yet sharing food from the family table with pets can introduce a nutrition imbalance because pet foods typically offer an entire complete and balanced diet in a single product. In fact, many food items that humans eat are toxic to cats and dogs.

It is important to note that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), AAFCO and the states have emphasized the need for standardized process controls, and many pet food makers have, for some time, implemented such process controls for all their products.

Recently passed federal legislation, including the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007 (FDAAA), improves the safety of animal feed, including pet food, through a number of new standards, process controls and other features. The aim is to prevent—rather than react—to animal feed incidents.

For more information on safe pet food, check out how to read labels, find out who is responsible or learn about AAFCO’s role.