Human diet trends will often dictate upcoming trends in pet food. In recent years, terms such as “natural” and “organic” could be spotted on pet food packaging. However, the new trend is encouraging a reduction in grains and increased proteins in pet diets.
Pet food manufacturers face developing a safe and appealing product that pets will eat and their owners will buy. However, increasing protein levels in pet food have their own unique challenges. While heat has been an essential factor in a company’s safety prevention and sanitation, heat should also be considered when moving toward pet food products that utilize more protein.
1. Keeping the Food Safe
Since the passing of the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in 2011, pet food manufacturers have been forced to follow the same strict safety measures as their
human food manufacturing counterparts. The action centers around identifying contamination and safety risks in the manufacturing process and eliminating them before the product gets into the hands of consumers.
Adding or changing a formulation always comes with a risk, especially when incorporating more meat or protein into the pet food. When adding more protein, heat must always be a safety factor to consider, placing higher importance on the need to heat protein to precise and accurate temperatures. If the temperature is not hot enough, then pasteurization is impossible, leading to wasted product and possibly causing sickness.
Heat is an important component in killing bacteria and microbials that can make pets sick. If they are not eliminated during the manufacturing process, it is a liability for the company and can lead to recalls and fines from the FDA. It is also a public relations nightmare that can be challenging for a company to recover from.
2. Protecting Brand Reputation/Equity
Even if these microorganisms do not cause illness, they can still affect the pets consuming them (tainted pet food can cause skin and coat issues). These bugs can also affect the shelf life and quality of the pet food, resulting in changes in color or texture.
The more likely scenario is that the pet food can taste less desirable to the pet and could even lead to rejection of the product by the pet. Unaware of the pet food issue, the owner would ultimately be forced to try new food and possibly go with a different brand.
If the problem becomes widespread, then it could affect a company’s bottom line. These problems could have been avoided if the food was heated to the proper temperature during the manufacturing process.
3. Maintaining Clean Equipment
While much focus has been on under-heating proteins in pet food, over-heating protein can also cause concern. Temperatures that are too hot cause burn-on, ruining the product, making equipment cleaning a challenge. Burn-on is just what its name implies – product is burned onto the cooking equipment due to higher-than-needed temperatures. The results are a cleaning nightmare that can take hours away from production and lead to unnecessary downtime. In addition, depending on how the cleaning is accomplished, expensive chemicals could be utilized that could also be a safety concern for employees. Precise temperature control eliminates the maintenance hassles related to over-heating and burn-on.
The Perfect Temperature Every Time in Pet Food Production with Hydro-Thermal’s SilverLine.
A processor of liver-based functional protein ingredients wanted to evaluate different heating methods. Following a lengthy review of several equipment manufacturers, the SilverLine™ was selected for a trial. The SilverLine is a continuous cooking system that can heat recipes precisely as specified. The SilverLine raised the temperature of the liver material from 36°F to 140°F [2.2°C to 60°C] with an output of ~50 GPM [11.4 Bar] using a continuous heating process.
After the successful trial, the ingredient manufacturer-installed Hydro-Thermal’s 3-cooker, 3” [DN80] diameter SilverLine™ model with a 4” [DN100] steam line connection from the plant’s steam header.
Beyond achieving exact temperature, the SilverLine eliminated burn-on and controlled the flow rate of the process. The equipment’s CIP feature made cleaning easy, reducing staff hours of daily cleaning and maintenance. Also, the footprint of the Silver¬Line is a quarter of the size of the company’s existing equipment, saving valuable floor space. The steam loss was reduced compared to the existing system, leading to added energy efficiency with the SilverLine.
Flow rate: 75 - 100 GPM [17-23 m³/hr]
Inlet Temperature: 33 - 40°F [0.6 -4.4 °C]
Outlet Temperature: 140°F [60 °C]
Steam Header Pressure: 85 - 100 psig [5.9 – 6.9 Bar]
Solutions for Your Protein Heating Challenges
Are you considering incorporating more protein in your pet food formulations? Are you exploring a way to optimize your heating? The steam heating experts at Hydro-Thermal are available to complete a free audit of your plant. We can provide tips on increasing efficiency, reducing energy costs, and ensuring that you consistently achieve the perfect temperature when you need it.