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Technical Article

What are the Requirements and Considerations for Handling Pet Food?


Q&A with Jeff Tibbetts, Regional Sales Manager, Vortex

When handling pet food and the ingredients used in its production, several key issues should be taken into consideration. Sanitary modifications, interior accessibility, wear compensation, in-line maintenance and dust tight sealing capabilities are all factors that need to be examined when purchasing components for pet food handling.

Q. What bulk handling products are commonly used in handling pet food and pet food ingredients?  

A. Products commonly used in the production of pet food include slide gates, diverter valves, air locks, screw conveyors, hoppers, screeners and magnets. Manufacturers of these products continue to make strides in ensuring long service life and the ability to prevent cross contamination and spoilage.

Q. What are some of the challenges when handling pet food and pet food ingredients?

A. Among the ingredients used in the production of pet food are grains, meat byproducts, fish, and varying organic materials. These ingredients can be challenging to handle due to various factors including their sticky nature and concerns of cross contamination.

As the industry moves towards creating natural products with even more organic ingredients, cleanliness is an important factor. To keep the facility clean, equipment must be easily accessed for frequent cleaning. The use of stainless steel for all material contact areas and other FDA-compliant materials helps to ensure cleanliness and safety of the product.

Another big challenge when handling kibble, is that traditional pneumatic conveying methods can cause the kibble to turn to powder. To avoid breakage, gravity conveying is preferred. Gravity conveying also helps prevent infestation in sanitary applications. In addition to breakage, product loss is also a concern. To combat loss of product, manufacturers have moved towards horizontal and enclosed conveying methods.

Q. Are the same sanitary requirements necessary for handling pet food as food consumed by humans?

A. When handling pet food, the industry standard has been to treat pet food with the same regulations as food consumed by humans. When handling meat, USDA regulations are followed.

Electropolishing of material contact areas and continuous welds are also used to ensure sanitation and safety. These processes lessen the surface rigidity of raw stainless steel. In doing so, material particles and dusts have less opportunity to collect in ridges along the steel’s surface. These methods further reduce the likelihood of in-line contamination and spoilage.

About Vortex:
For over 40 years, Vortex Global has provided quality slide gates, diverters, iris valves and loadout equipment designed specifically for handling dry bulk solids in gravity, vacuum, dilute, or dense phase applications. Vortex equipment is engineered for dependability, durability, easy maintenance, and offers proven solutions to material handling and process efficiency problems. With an in-house team of engineers, Vortex products can be completely customized for individual applications or special installations.

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