Prior to visiting the Natura pet food production facility, I submitted a list of my reader’s questions and asked that Natura answer them in writing. Here are the answers to those questions.
1. Which countries do the ingredients going into the food come from? Are they different sources than Natura had while under the previous ownership?
Natura’s goal remains to domestically source all ingredients, and for most ingredients we do. However, we’ve found that some ingredients simply cannot be sourced from within the U.S. as they do not have a consistent supply chain. All materials sourced internationally go through the same rigorous set of supplier qualification and quality checks as our domestic ingredients. You can learn more about the specific countries we source from using our online sourcing tool at www.seebeyondthebag.com.
Our commitment to our trusted suppliers and ingredient quality hasn’t changed since Natura joined the P&G family, but we have always and will continue to upgrade our formulas based on the latest nutritional advancements. We will always inform our consumers when cutting-edge nutritional research has inspired us to improve a formula for optimal pet health. We’re proud of these advancements and the differences they may help to make in the lives of pets.
2. What type of quality control do you use to make sure the food is safe for my pet?
Natura’s products are subjected to well over 100 defined quality control checks throughout the manufacturing process. Along with the use of only high quality ingredients from our trusted suppliers, these structured and rigorous checks help us ensure we’re producing the high-quality and safe pet food our company was founded upon.
Multiple tests must be passed and specifications must be met for all raw materials and at many key control points during the manufacturing process before any food, treat or supplement makes it out of the manufacturing facility and onto the shelves of your local retailer.
Some of the key points in Natura’s Quality Management and Manufacturing Process that have numerous checks are:
- Material Supplier Selection & Approval
- Delivered Raw Material Inspection, Analysis & Traceability
- Accurate Recipe Assembly & Consistent Mixing
- Monitoring of the Cooking Process with In-process Specifications Confirmed
- Correct Packaging Verification & Tracking
- Ingredient & Finished Product Testing including for melamine & cyanuric acid
- Warehouse Inventory Management with Full Traceability of Ingredients & Finished Products
All checks conducted require quality control verification. Some of the checks used involve laboratory analysis for a nutrient such as protein or for a potential naturally occurring toxin such as aflatoxin. Other checks involve a sensory assessment by an experienced technician for product characteristics such as color and aroma. In addition, many more in-depth analyses on a detailed and structured schedule are performed on both raw materials and finished products.
3. How is a recall determined? How many complaints do they have to receive? At what point does a recall go from voluntary to FDA mandated?
According to the FDA, recalls are typically enacted voluntarily by a company or firm. Only rarely does the FDA have to mandate the recall of a questionable product. These recalls could be in response to an issue observed by manufacturers, distributors, the media, or the people who use the product in question.
The severity of the issue observed determines the recall’s classification. Recalls are classified as follows:
- Class I: Product contributes to serious health risks or death
- Class II: Health risk posed, though it is short term or only presents a slim chance of causing serious complications
- Class III: No health risk, but violation of FDA labeling or manufacturing laws cited against the product
- Market Withdrawal: Product is removed because of minor violation, but not one that is considered actionable by the FDA
Natura’s products are subjected to well over 100 defined quality control checks throughout the manufacturing process. Along with the use of only the highest-quality ingredients, these structured and rigorous checks ensure the highest-quality and safest pet food you can buy. For further information, visit fda.gov.
4. Someone at the dog park stated that dog food is made with human grade ingredients which did not make sense to me. It that true? If not, what controls are used to make sure that the ingredients are pure and safe to eat?
There is no AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) definition for “human grade” when it comes to pet food. Because of this, the use of this statement on pet food products is typically prohibited, which is why Natura does not use the term in any advertising.
However, Natura continues to source high-quality, natural ingredients from our trusted suppliers to provide unique, beneficial recipes. As you saw in Fremont, Natura products are made with real fruits and vegetables, high-quality proteins, and whole grains. The quality of our ingredients and products is assured by our high standards for sourcing and our top-ranking manufacturing certifications from several third party auditors like the American Institute of Baking, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the ISO Quality Management System 9001:2000. You can see all of our certifications and their explanations on the Natura website.
*SIDE NOTE from Life with LuLu – Upon doing some research, I have found that the existing pet food regulations state that even if all human grade ingredients are used in a pet food, once those ingredients enter a ‘pet food plant’, they become ‘pet grade ingredients’. The only pet food companies that are allowed to make a claim that their ingredients are ‘human grade’ are those that manufacture their pet food in a ‘human food plant’ – that is, one that also produces food for human consumption. So while a pet food may actually use human grade ingredients, they can not claim that they use human grade ingredients unless they also produce human food in the same plant that they manufacture their pet food… Not really fair to the pet food companies, or to consumers for that matter, is it?
5. Which preservatives are used in the food and which preservatives can cause certain dogs problems?
Natura never adds chemical preservatives, such as BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin to our products. Instead, we use natural sources of Vitamin E and Vitamin C to help preserve our pet foods.
6. Are the growths and tumors that are hand cut and removed from the chicken, beef and pork in preparation for human food used in Natura food? That’s a huge concern for me, which is why I feed a wild-caught fish formula.
All animals contributing to Natura formulas’ protein receive ante- and post-mortem inspection at approved facilities with no evidence of systemic disease of animal and human health significance. These practices are in keeping with the USDA/FDA standards for product safety.
7. Define “beef” and define “chicken.”
Beef is the clean flesh derived from slaughtered cows and is limited to that part of the striate muscle which is skeletal or that which is found in the tongue, in the diaphragm, in the heart, or in the esophagus; with or without the accompanying and overlying fat and the portions of the skin, sinew, nerve, and blood vessels which normally accompany the flesh. Natura never uses meat by-products, as defined by AAFCO terms.
Chicken is the clean combination of flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken, exclusive of feathers, heads, feet, and entrails.
To explore these ingredient definitions and to learn about some of our other ingredient definitions, you can visit http://www.naturapet.com/ingredients
8. What is the age of animals used (e.g. are they egg laying old chickens and old dairy cows)? At what point in the process do you stop giving antibiotics or other drugs to the animals?
All the meats used in Natura’s formulation come from USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) approved and inspected facilities. The meats are verified to be free of SRM’s (specific risk materials) and fit for consumption. The age of these meats is different by meat type and is dictated by USDA requirements.
9. Are vegetables a lower grade for any reason (e.g. starting to rot)?
No, they are wholesome, fresh, and are inspected upon receipt and prior to use. They cannot be spoiled, rotting, or showing signs of degradation.
10. How do you source the meat for your products? Will you be able to keep meat from different farms separate so that if contamination does occur it’s quickly stopped and doesn’t spread to more batches of food?
Our meats, like all our raw materials, must go through our stringent Supplier Management Program in which facilities and ingredients are inspected and approved by our Quality department prior to a supplier and a specific ingredient being approved for use. Part of the approval process requires an ingredient origin declaration so the sourcing can be controlled and the supply chain appropriately managed.