By Andrew Prest, PhD Microbiology


There are 3 major types of pet foods: 

  • Dry – these are heat treated foods that have low moisture content. They include extruded foods (shaped pellets or kibbles), flake foods (flaked cereals) and biscuits/mixers. These are often packed in bags, but biscuits which are to be offered as treats may be packed in smaller boxes.  
  • Wet – these are foods with a high moisture content. They are usually cooked at high temperatures to sterilize them and are then sealed under pressure (although not always). These include cans, foil trays and pouches and the contents include chunks in gravy, chunks in jelly and meatloaf formats. Frozen or chilled pet foods in bags are also available. 
  • Raw – raw products are uncooked available in chilled, frozen or freeze-dried formats.  


In all cases an effective Risk Management Program based on the principles of HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) must be in place to assurance pet food product safety. 

Each type of pet food has its own risks which need to be managed – these are broken down into microbiological, physical and chemical risks. These risks are discussed in more detail in the following article entitled ‘key food safety risk parameters and control’. 

The majority of the pet food market (nearly 70%) comprises of dry extruded or baked foods that are packaged in bags or boxes and have a shelf-life of one year or greater. The second most popular is wet canned foods, followed by raw foods which comprise a small percentage of the pet food market. 



Dry extruded foods are made by the following major steps: 

Approved Suppliers >> Raw material receipt >> Inspection and approval for use >> Controlled temperature Storage (if necessary) >> Mincing >> Recipe formulation >> Mixing >> Extrusion >> Drying >> Cooling >> Quality Inspection >> Labeling and Packing >> Distribution 


Wet Pet food is made by the following major steps: 

Approved Suppliers >> Raw material receipt >> Inspection and approval for use >> Controlled temperature Storage (if necessary) >> Mincing [Symbol] Recipe formulation >> Mixing >> Filling into cans/pouches >> Cooking/Sterilization >> Quality Inspection >> Labeling and Packing >> Distribution 


Raw Pet Food is made by the following major steps: 

Approved Suppliers >> Raw material Receipt >> Inspection and approval for use >> Recipe formulation >> Mincing >> Moulding >> Labeling and Packing >> Temperature-controlled Distribution 


The steps in bold are critical control steps with respect to pet food safety.  As can be seen (GMP) that can be used at the manufacturing or regulatory level to ensure food and feed quality.  



All pet food manufacturing, irrespective of whether it is dry, wet or raw requires that effective Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) is in place. These are called pre-requisite programs which support the HACCP program and are an essential part of the Risk Management Program. Examples of GMP including Cleaning and Sanitation, Pest Control, Equipment Calibration, Documentation through standard operating procedures and training, process monitoring and record keeping. 

These are key to managing the microbiological, chemical and physical hazards discussed in the next article. 


READ ON: Key pet food safety risk parameters and control

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About Dr Prest
Andrew Prest is the Founder and Managing Director of Sustainability Systems. He has extensive theoretical and practical understanding of food manufacturing processes and systems having held senior management positions with major global food and beverage manufacturers for over 20 years supported by a Masters in Food Technology and Quality Assurance and a PhD in Food Microbiology. Andrew has significant experience in auditing and integrated systems management within the Quality, Food Safety, Health & Safety and Environmental Management sphere.

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