You’ve made the wise decision and purchased a pet food brand that puts the welling of your pet first – you’ve purchased a PFI (Pet Food Industry Association of Southern Africa) member brand, so you can rest assured that you’ve got a safe, nutritious food in your hands. But how should you best handle the foods now that you’re home, to ensure that the safety of the product is upheld in storage?
Starting with the time that you purchase the food, begin by examining the packaging to ensure that it is not damaged – that the bag does not have a hole and tins are not dented or bulging. Check that the product you are purchasing has a best before date that is far enough in the future to allow you to finish the entire contents before this date is reached. This is the best way to ensure you are starting out with a fresh product. Then adhere to this best before date as the nutritional composition of the foods can only be guaranteed up to this date. Plan your purchase trip as products should not be left in the car for extended periods, where they can reach abnormally high temperatures.
Store unopened pet food (kibble, tins, pouches or treats) in a cool dry area. Once opened, keep in mind that sunlight, exposure to air, heat and humidity can speed up the rate at which foods are spoiled, so kibble and treats must be stored in an airtight container, away from direct sunlight, in a cool, dry spot, and still within in its own packaging (if the packaging does not zip lock). Not only is the packaging designed to maintain freshness but it also houses important information, should you ever need this, such as the barcode, best before date and batch number. Decanting the contents of the bag directly into another container is not advisable, but if you insist on this sort of storage be sure to clean the container properly before emptying a new bag into it and don’t be tempted to mix new food with left over old food. Unused wet food, once opened, should be stored in the refrigerator, properly covered. Storage in damp areas that are accessible to pests such as rodents should be avoided at all costs.
Once opened, dry foods should be consumed within about 6 weeks. Consider this when deciding on the size of bag to purchase. Storing of opened canned foods in the fridge should not exceed 7 days.
Follow the same principles of safe food storage, as you do with your own food in the kitchen – good hygiene begins with clean hands, so wash them often – before and after handling pet food, treats, toys, bowls etc. especially those that your pet’s saliva has touched.
Washing pet food bowls should follow the same regime as your own dishes – a wash and dry after every meal is a very good idea, especially when dealing with wet foods.
How you handle and store food plays a big part in ensuring the nutritional integrity of the food, so to ensure you’re feeding the best, after buying the best, follow these tips at all times.