No manufacturer of dry pet food likes losing revenue by throwing away good product. And no buyer of dry pet food likes opening the bag to find that the contents look imperfect. Yet both of these disappointments can happen - and happen too often - when poor silo-management allows differing batches of kibbles to unintentionally get mixed-up.
At best, the failure to separate different kinds of dry pet food products can cause buyers to doubt the manufacturer’s quality controls and turn to a rival brand. At worst, a dog or cat with food allergies might be harmed by consuming a food-type not listed in the product’s ingredients.
The risk of cross-contamination is greatest when processing lines switch from one product batch or recipe to another. For this reason, some processors take the precaution of dumping the remnants of one kibble batch before switching to the next. Others simply hope for the best, thinking there’s nothing much they can do about this. Neither approach is ideal, of course. For one thing, the habit of regularly discarding kibbles, sometimes in great quantities, is a costly waste of saleable stock. For another, the fast-spreading premiumization of the pet food market means that shoppers are becoming less willing to accept products which are visibly imperfect. And for another, something can now be done about this.
In fact, everything can be done about this: in the last couple of years, TOMRA Food, the world-leading manufacturer of optical sorting machines, has introduced to the pet food industry a new and totally effective solution to the problem of cross-contamination. This solution is Biometric Signature Identification (BSI) technology, originally designed and developed to ensure the safety and quality of foods for human consumption. TOMRA’s BSI+ scanner is uniquely capable of ‘seeing’ the biometric characteristics of all objects in the product stream, enabling the sorting machine to detect and eject unwanted materials even if they are identical to acceptable kibbles in size, shape, and color. This means it is now possible to prevent every single piece of unwanted kibble from getting to the end of the processing line.
The BSI+ scanner’s sorting platform is also capable of detecting and ejecting foreign materials from the product stream. This is essential, because the biscuits residue used as an ingredient in dry kibble can too easily be mixed-up with fragments of plastic or cardboard from wrappers and boxes. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s cross-contaminated product or foreign material - if a pet food buyer finds either in their bag of kibble, they’re likely to switch to another brand.
So now it’s possible to guard against both threats, foreign material and cross-contamination - and without having to throw away saleable product.