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FDA warns Nestle Purina of “significant violations” at pet food plant

Federal regulators sent a warning letter to Nestle Purina PetCare Co. about “significant violations” observed at a Purina pet food plant in Pennsylvania during an inspection of the plant last year.

The warning letter, publicly released Wednesday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Philadelphia office, it said, in part, the company’s low-acid dog and cat food was possibly prepared or packed improperly.

The letter was sent following a response by Purina to violations found during a two-week inspection of the plant last fall.  The letter outlined the FDA’s comments regarding the adequacy of the actions Purina took to correct the objectionable conditions and practices observed during the inspection (detailed below). Repeatedly, the FDA warned Purina that they did not consider their responses “acceptable”.

The violations include:

  • failure to process each low-acid canned food in conformity with at least the scheduled process filed with FDA
  • failure to identify, from a processor chack or otherwise, deviations from the scheduled process of critical factors which are out of control and failure to record these deviations in a separate log
  • failure to chlorinate or otherwise sanitize cooling water as necessary for cooling canals and recirculated water supplies
  • failure to establish a system for product traffic control in the retort room to prevent un-retorted product from bypassing the retort process
  • failure to install the mercury-in-glass thermometers in a location where they can be accurately and easily read
  • failure to have records of all processing and production signed or initialed by a representative of plant management who is qualified by suitable training or experience

Despite the extensive list of violations at the plant, Keith Schopp, a spokesman for Nestle Purina, said the company is confident there are no food safety issues or risks to pet health with the company’s products. And said he “believes the FDA notice covers oversights in administrative activities and record keeping — not incidents of contamination at the plant.”

Despite Purina’s assurances that the warning letter is no big deal, the FDA doesn’t seem to think so. They have given Purina 15 days to notify the FDA of the corrective actions they plan to take to bring their firm into compliance. Failure to take appropriate corrective action may subject Purina and their pet food products to further actions, such as emergency permit control, injunction, or seizure.

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Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, the author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and consumer advisor. Help support her work by making a donation today.

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