Given the large number of pet foods recalled this year; especially by BLACK HAWK: and now this current outbreak of illness in larger breeds dogs in our area -where a contaminated food may be a potential player- it is probably a good time to repost part of one of our previous articles on tips on pet food storage.
These tips will help ensure that if you do have a Recall on your pet food, you have the information to hand to help you identify if your food is affected. Even if you do not have all the information on date and site of purchase, size of bag, batch number and date of expiry on a particular pet food of concern, it is still worth emailing the company with your concern and also have your own vet fill out an AVA *Petfast food-injury report.
Aside from any recalls, many owners 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). Ideally you should be using up 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). So, whilst large bags of food can be cheaper per kilogram, often they are not best value for the dog or cat.
The tips below also ensure that after you return the contaminated food, there is no home cross-contamination between the old and the new food.
TOP 10 TIPS
- Always empty the bin out totally between one bag and the next.
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.
- Once empty, wash your container out well with some washing-up liquid and warm water.
- Turn upside down to drain and place in SUNLIGHT for about 20 mins.
- Once the bin is dry and cool, refill with the new food.
- For the big storage bins: 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.
- Write the date you opened the bag either on the bag or on a sticker on the bin lid.
- Set yourself a rolling 6-week reminder on your calendar or phone to majorly check the food bins.
- Do not use paper bags to store food, they absorb the oils and increase risk of food contamination.
- Avoid the presence of rugs or cushions or beds where dry food is stored.
- Make containers insect proof as storage mites use insects as transport.
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!
Despite all your best efforts, from time to time issues, will still pop up. 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.
*Petfast contact details: https://www.ava.com.au/library-resources/other-resources/petfast/?fbclid=IwAR3yTZcJGtegmjOuMY86WeWaZxijDZEGRrVxgFpZwY7ni3_-qCcLmWL_Exk