Storing pet foods
Most people thing that a tightly sealed plastic container is the best way to store their pet’s dry food. In some ways, that’s a good choice, as it keeps rodents, insects and the pets out of the food. But, unfortunately, it can create more problems than it solves.
The tightly sealed container does not prevent oxygen from getting at the kibbles. Oxygen is what makes the fats go rancid. Even with the preservative that are in the foods, they will still break down in the presence of oxygen. And every time you open the container, you let fresh oxygen in. If you are emptying the container in a matter of a few weeks, this is not an issue. But if you buy a big bag to save some money, and it is in this container for months, you are taking a big chance in the food spoiling. This can either cause the pet to refuse the food, or it can make them (and you) sick.
The other issue with dumping a bag of food into a container is that most people do not wash the containers between bags. That means residual fats and oils on the walls of the container (especially plastic containers) will continue to oxidize and spoil, contaminating the fresh bag that was put in there.
If you want to use the container to keep pests out, and keep things neat, then match the container to the bag you are buying, and put the whole bag in the container. Every time you take food out, squish all the air out of the bag, and seal it back up with its ziplock (if it has one) or with a bag clamp.
Saving money by purchasing a large bag of food for a small dog is not always the most cost effective strategy, especially if it goes rancid before you finish the bag. We recommend never purchasing more than your pet will need for a two month period, and one month. If you do purchase more than a month’s supply, we recommend that you store the extra in your freezer. This will slow the decay process down considerably, and keep your pet’s food fresh a lot longer.
If you are going to use a container at room temperature for storage, the best option is a glass container. These are much easier to sanitize between uses, and thereby are a lot safer for storage. Plastic will harbour a lot of things you don’t want, even after washing. Short of a “sterilize” setting on the dishwasher, it is hard to get the bugs off of plastic.
Speaking of plastic, dog bowls and scoops are another big issue in pet food safety. Many pet owners overlook these usually plastic items as a place where germs can grow. It is very important to clean these thoroughly and regularly. The FDA advises this should be done after every use, and your hands should be washed for at least 20 seconds with hot water and soap before and after handling dry pet foods or treats.
These handling procedures may sound extreme, but the potential danger from these items is not something we want to take chances with. In 2007, and again in 2012, the CDC tracked multi-state outbreaks of salmonella directly linked to dry dog foods. Proper handling procedures can help protect you from these dangers.