Food Spoilage:When the Best Price may not be the Best Purchase or When Smaller is Better.

After returning my previous-day purchased, now mould-covered, fruit to Woolies and getting a refund with replacement stock (well done Woolies), and being alerted by a blog reader about one recent case of mould found in a bag of RC dry dog food, I thought I would do a small snippet on what can happen to food over time, especially, but not limited to, Australian home conditions.

Many folks are not aware of the issues of Storage Mites, Moulds and Rancidity in any and all foods for pets (and maybe for human foods too.).Whilst large bags of food can be cheaper per kilogram, often they are not best value for the dog or cat.

Ideally you should be shifting through the open bag in full within a 6-week period once open (3 months is the maximum you want to be feeding opened dry food). This reduces risk of rancidity, deterioration of vitamins/minerals etc and most importantly for my allergic patients-reduces the levels of Storage mite that infest any and all foods. By 12 weeks, the level of storage mites even in the best stored foods, can be significant enough to cause reactions when the food was consumed. One of the ways around the storage mite issues was to store dry foods in a fridge:another good use for the bar fridge in the garage perhaps…What is not known is the effect on the ingredients kept in the fridge-so far, no issues, but never say never.

Regardless of whether you refrigerate or not, here are some other Tips to Reduce Spoilage of Pet-Food.

Top 10 Tips

  1. Always empty the bin out totally between one bag and the next.
  2.  Do not just top-up the bin with new food as this:
    Increases your risk of storage mite infestation.
    Confuses any contamination claim.
    Increases risk of mould and moisture.
  3. Once empty, wash your container out well with some washing-up liquid and warm water.
  4. Turn upside down to drain and place in SUNLIGHT for about 20 mins.
  5. Once the bin is dry and cool, refill with the new food.
  6. For the Big storage bin: keep the food in its Original bag in that bin. The bag helps preserve the food and if there is any issue with the food, you still have the barcode.
  7. Write the date you opened the bag either on the bag or on a sticker on the bin lid.
  8. Do not use paper bags to store food, they absorb the oils and increase risk of food contamination.
  9. Avoid the presence of rugs or cushions or beds where dry food is stored.
  10. Make containers insect proof as storage mites use insects as transport.

There had been a recent case reported of an owner finding mould found in their bag of RC adult food. The original batch  test sample retained by the manufacturer was normal, but the problem bag sample showed high levels of moisture. One presumes,and I know Nothing about the in-depth details of this mould case other than a link a Blog follower sent me ; At some part of the supply chain, the bag of food was subjected to higher moisture content. Was that in freight, point of sale ie pet shop/online/vet or at the owner’s home?  That is the problem question here. No-one knows the answer unless/until other bags from that batch are tracked to different outlines and tested to find the common denominator.

What is clear is the need for all of us to observe and store foods to maximise storage conditions. It is one of the reasons why we only stock a small number of bags of food at the clinic to ensure, we move the products very quickly to minimise any overly long storage of the foods. We only buy from a wholesaler who also keeps very tight stock levels, who in turn then buys direct from Hills or RC’s own depot to ensure we again keep that supply chain tight and short and with best practice approach suppliers. This sometimes means we have a delay getting the food in, but at least we know it’s a quick turn-over supply chain that we are using.

We did once use a different supplier many years ago. I send the food back: It came covered in bird droppings and one bag had a large family of mice living in it… I was later informed that warehouse had poor vermin control, plagued by birds and not temperature controlled in any way!

So, take sensible precautions with food storage, keep your batch numbers and realise that sometimes the best price is not the best purchase.

  • Despite all your best efforts, from time to time issues, will still pop up, just like my Woolies mouldy berrie: having barcodes and good storage practices makes it much easier to track back to the cause of the issue.

Hope this food storage information is of help to everyone, not just pet owners.