Pet food processing refers to the use of various necessary methods to enable dogs, cats and other pets to obtain the maximum potential nutritional value of food. In fact, it refers to changing the raw material composition, shape, palatability and other characteristics of pet food in some way, so that pets can maximize the value of their feed pellets. In order to ensure the full and safe use of food nutrition in the pet food manufacturing process, the raw materials used must undergo various degrees of processing.Commercially produced pet food has its origins in a dry, biscuit-style dog food developed in England in 1860. Shortly afterwards, manufacturers produced more sophisticated formulas, which included nutrients considered essential for dogs at the time. At the beginning of the 20th century, pre-packaged pet foods were also available in the U.S. Initially they consisted primarily of dry cereals, but after World War I, dog food made of canned horse meat was available. The 1930s ushered in canned cat food and a dry, meatmeal type of dog food. Some innovations by the 1960s were dry cat food, dry expandedtype dog food, and semi-moist pet food.
How Dry Pet Food Is Made
While there are numerous ways to making dry pet food, the most commonly used process is extrusion by a pet food machinery. This process was adapted for making pet food in the 1950s based upon technology used to make puffed breakfast cereals. The diagram on Making Pet Food by pet food making machine illustrates the process:
1.Ingredients are brought together in a mixing machine. Dry ingredients may be ground prior to introduction to wet ingredients. Once mixed together, they form a moist dough.
2.The dough is heated in the preconditioner prior to introduction to the extruder.
3.The pet food machinery equipment, essentially a giant meat grinder, is where the primary cooking phase for dry extruded pet food products occurs. The dough is cooked under intense heat and pressure as it moves toward the open end of the dog food making machine. At the end of the pet food making machine, hot dough passes through a shaping die and knife (similar to the action of a meat grinder) where the small pieces expand rapidly into kibble once they are under standard air pressure.
4.Kibble is dried in an oven until its moisture content is low enough to make it shelf stable like a cookie or cracker. The drying oven is followed by a cooling phase.
5.After cooling, kibble may pass through a machine that sprays on a coating, which is generally a flavor enhancer.
6.Packaging (bags, boxes, pouches, etc.) is filled during the last step to precise amounts to meet the weight advertised on the label. The final result is finished pet foods or treats.