G & C Raw, LLC (G & C) needs to clean up its act according to a December 12, 2019 Warning Letter from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
G & C is a manufacturer of raw pet food and is based in Versailles, Ohio.
FDA inspected the G & C manufacturing facility in April and May 2019, and found several instances of insanitary practices, potential for cross-contamination, inappropriate and uncontrolled thawing conditions for frozen ingredients, and inadequate preventative controls.
Some of the practices and deficiencies highlighted in the Warning Letter include:
1. Frozen beef hearts were set out at room temperature to thaw on April 22nd, and remained at room temperature until April 24th, when they were used in the manufacture of raw Beef Veggie and Fruit Dog Food. This extended exposure to room temperature would have allowed bacteria to proliferate in the raw beef hearts.
2. An employee wearing gloves lifted a barrelG that had been resting on the floor, grabbing the bottom of the barrel with one gloved hand. Without changing to a fresh pair of gloves, that employee then used both hands to handle the raw meat ingredients, potentially transfering contaminants from the floor to the ingredients
3. An employee was observed using a cell phone while weighing open containers of raw Beef Veggie and Fruit Dog Food. The employee continued to handle the raw dog food without changing to a fresh pair of gloves.
4. An employee used a hose connected to a processing area sink to wash down a van in the parking lot, then returned the hose to the processing area for inside use.
5. Two finished product samples collected during the inspection were found to contain Listeria monocytogenes, a human and animal pathogen. One environmental sample contained Listeria grayi and Listeria innocua, non-pathogenic species that are indicators of insanitary conditions.
In addition to the problems identified during the 2019 inspection, the Warning Letter also noted that G & C pet foods analyzed in 2018 by the Ohio Department of Agriculture were found to contain Listeria monocytogenes in one instance, and Salmonella in another.
While the contaminated products were recalled by the company, FDA considered this an indication of an ongoing problem.
The FoodBugLady weighs in
Some pet food bloggers, and many consumers, are inclined to give raw pet food manufacturers the benefit of the doubt whenever a product recall is announced or an enforcement action is undertaken against such a company by FDA.
“FDA is discriminating against raw pet food,” and “FDA is discriminating against small companies who can’t fight back,” are two rallying cries I have seen in recent years.
In my opinion and experience, this is nonsense.
Conditions such as those described in the Warning Letter issued to G & C would not be tolerated in the manufacture of human food, regardless of the size of the company. Equally, they should not be tolerated in the manufacture of pet food, regardless of whether the finished product is raw, canned, or kibble.
Insanitary practices are insanitary practices, no matter where they occur or by whom they are perpetrated. There is no excuse for sloppy handling, poor supervision of employees, or unsafe holding temperatures.
Anyone who undertakes to produce a commercial food for human or for animal use must bear full responsibility for the safety of the finished products.
Consumers should – and must – demand no less.