Decontamination: The Best Way to Comply to FDA Standards

Significant changes in the pet food industry is on the horizon. Read more about the processes of decontamination available to raw pet food producers in the U.S.

Stephanie Minturn · September 26, 2018

Significant changes in the pet food industry is on the horizon. Pet food producers all over the country are working diligently to comply to the FDA's zero tolerance policy regarding bacterial contamination. 

The goal is to reduce the risk of humans being affected by cross-contamination related to the level of bacteria in pet food. Most raw companies agree that cooking is not an option. Cooking destroys beneficial bacteria and living enzymes, the essence of a raw diet. Raw pet food producers are turning to alternatives such as high pressure pasteurization, bacteriophages or irradiation in an effort to achieve the FDA requirements. While these alternatives may provide pathogen control, they come with serious disadvantages. 

High Pressure Pasteurization (HPP) is an increasingly popular non-thermal pasteurization process which exposes the product to 87,000 pounds or more of hydrostatic pressure per square inch. Extreme pressure destroys single-cell membranes of harmful bacteria such as salmonella, listeria and clostridium botulinum which can be detrimental to human health and the health of immunocompromised pets. 

The good...

  • HPP is highly effective in eliminating harmful bacteria although it may not eliminate bacterial spores.
  • HPP is not a new process and is already being used all over the United States for human consumption items such as juices and purees.
  • Compared to cooking, HPP is less likely to change the appearance and taste of the food.
The bad... 
  • HPP cannot differentiate between good and harmful bacteria. Lysis of beneficial bacteria and living enzymes are an unfortunate result of extreme pressure. It is important to retain the living enzymes, phytochemicals and unprocessed amino acids in a raw diet to promote easy digestion and maintenance of overall health.
  • HPP denatures the proteins in a raw meat diet, disrupting the nutritional advantage of mother nature's formula. Denaturing proteins produce chemical reactions which release free radicals into the meat, leading to cancer and other degenerative diseases.
  • The risk of recontamination during the transferring process makes HPP seem like wasted effort. There is plenty of room for human error and with the high cost of equipment and processing, there is no room for mistakes.

Bacteriophages, commonly called "phages" are naturally occurring viruses found all over the earth. They live everywhere, including the surface of skin, inside the body, in the ocean, on plants and in soil. They are designed to identify, attack and destroy specific bacteria, eliminating them from raw diets. 

The good...
  • Dr Karen Becker reports that bacteriophages reduce bacterial strains in raw pet foods by 60 to 92%.
  • Bacteriophages is a 100% natural way to reduce bacteria in food.
  • Bacteriophages only target specific bacteria, which leaves healthy flora intact.
The bad... 
  • While a 60 to 92% pathogen reduction is impressive, it won't satisfy the FDA's zero tolerance policy.
  • In order for phages to successfully sterilize, they must reach every fold and crevice of the meat. This is only possible if the consistency of the meat is finely ground to produce a favorable surface. Processing failure such as improper grinding time is a common occurance and leads to unfavorable results.
  • Altering the consistency of the diet reduces the pets' palatability and causes a loss of interest.

Irradiation is a bacterial decontamination process using high doses of radiation. The FDA has permitted irradiated human foods for quite some time but luckily, there are not many products being sold commercially. Irradiated food for human consumption must be labeled. However, the label is anything but informative and it's flowery appearance indicates a positive feeling rather than negative. 
The Radura: Symbol for Irradiation


The good...
  • The FDA defends irradiation by explaining that the food is not radioactive and is therefore safe for consumption.
  • Irradiation is an effective way of eliminating most harmful microorganisms.
  • Food remains fresh and maintains a longer shelf life.
The bad...
  • At minimum, irradiation depletes the nutritional value in the food. As a matter of fact, it denatures the diet so much that it can lead to severe and even fatal deficiencies. Pets eat the same diet each day and if their vitamins and minerals are not carefully balanced and maintained, deficit can occur quickly.
  • Unlike human food, pet food companies are not required to label their products with a radiation warning. This means you have absolutely no idea whether or not your pet is being subjected to harmful radiation. This is why it is important to research pet food and treat companies before you purchase to be sure they are not using irradiation to eliminate bacteria in their products.
  • Irradiation uses gamma rays and electron beams to destroy bacteria. Byproducts are formed during the process causing gene mutation and chromosomal abnormalities. This is not a risk pet owners are willing to take.

I have briefly explained a few of the most common decontamination processes available to pet food producers across America. HPP, phages and irradiation can require extremely expensive equipment, additional production and transportation costs and meticulous and specific testing services. The added expense can cause the cost of your pet's food to increase, making it difficult for pet parents to afford. That is why BARF World, Inc.® is committed to adopting an approach which will eliminate bacteria while keeping the cost to a minimum. 

An alternative to these three decontamination methods consists of controlling the pH of the diet. This pathogen removal process is considered to be much safer for pets. Carefully altering pH effectively eliminates harmful microbes while preserving beneficial bacteria and living enzymes in the diet. The diet remains palatable and packed with the benefits you expect from a raw diet! In the upcoming weeks, you will hear more about this process. Subscribe here to receive our weekly newsletters sent to your email from BARF World, Inc.® so that you don't miss a single issue! 

Without a doubt, you're concerned for the future of your pet's health. The team here at BARF World, Inc.® can assure you that we are taking every step necessary to comply to the FDA standards by using an effective and natural process. We believe that we can achieve decontamination without inducing secondary negative effects, destroying living enzymes and raising the cost of the best diet on earth. Your health and the health and well being of your pets is our priority. To learn more about BARF World, Inc.® products, please continue reading our weekly blog, visit www.barfworld.com or call 1-866-282-2273 to speak to one of our Raw Food Specialists. 

References and ways to learn more: 

Healthy Pets by Dr. Karen Becker: Salmonella in Raw Pet Food 

Pet Place-Irradiation of Dog Food: Is it Safe? 

Truth about Pet Food: Know the Radura 

Healthy Pets by Dr. Karen Becker: Sterile Raw Pet Food 

FDA: Guidance Regulation 

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Stephanie Minturn

Stephanie Minturn

Stephanie is a Registered Nurse and proud mother of 4 who has always loved animals and the purity and beauty they bring into the world. She enjoys researching current trends and evidence-based practice in the pet industry and relating it to the healthcare industry for humans. She has passion in discovering new-found knowledge with other pet owners like herself.

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What is BARF?

"BARF®" is our acronym that means Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. It is a complete and carefully balanced blend of raw meat, fruits, vegetables and bone. Our formula mimics what nature has designed our pet's to thrive on in the wild. The result is a pet free of allergies, digestive problems, and full of life!