Potential safety risks in pet food ingredients

The Australian Standard AS5812 Manufacturing and Marketing of pet food requires manufacturers of pet food to consider the safety risk when establishing HACCP plans for certain ingredients, for contaminants or for residues in ingredients, or in the product post-processing.

Specific items for consideration may include some ingredients, cross-contamination from previous batches, toxins from grains, heavy metals, melamine and related compounds and contaminants as a result of microbiological spoilage.

The following reference list is a non-exhaustive list of potential risks, relevant to pet foods, arising from raw materials, processing and post-processing incidents, together with applicable reference sources as guidance for pet food manufacturers.

CARRY OVER” IngredientMaximum daily intake for dogsReference Source
Ionophore lasalocid1.0 mg/Kg body weightAlpharma
Ionophore monensin1.25 mg/Kg body weightAlpharma
Ionophore salinomycin2.5 mg/Kg body weightAlpharma



MYCOTOXINSMaximum level in finished product

@ 12% moisture

Reference Source
Aflatoxin B10.01 mg/KgFEDIAF
Ochratoxin (OTA)0.01 mg/KgFEDIAF
Trichothecene (T2 + HT2) for cats0.050 mg/KgFEDIAF
Deoxynivalenol/Vomitoxin (DON)5 mg/KgFEDIAF
Zearalenone (ZEA) (Adult- not


0.2 mg/KgFEDIAF
Fumonisin (B1 + B2)5 mg/KgFEDIAF



ANTIOXIDANTSMaximum daily intakeReference Source
Ethoxyquin (dogs)75 mg/KgFDA
Ethoxyquin, Butylhydroxyanisol,

Dibutylhydroxytoluene total (dogs)

150 mg/KgFEDIAF


PESTICIDE RESIDUESMaximum daily intakeReference Source
Pirimiphos-methyl (wheat)10 mg/KgAPVMA
Malathion (wheat bran)20 mg/KgAPVMA
Chlorpyrifos-methyl (wheat)20 mg/KgAPVMA
Methamidophos (oilseed)0.1 mg/KgAPVMA
Glyphosate (wheat)5 mg/KgAPVMA


ORGANOCHLORINESMaximum daily intakeReference Source
Aldrin, dieldrin, chlordane, etc0.01 mg/KgNational Feed Standard
DDT0.05 mg/KgNational Feed Standard
Dioxins, dioxin like PCBS1.25 ng TEQ/KgNational Feed Standard


CONTAMINANTSMaximum daily intakeReference Source
Melamine2.5 mg/KgCCCF
Gentian violetNilAAFCO
Propylene glycol (cat food)NilAAFCO


HEAVY METALSMaximum level in finished product @ 12% moisture Complete pet foods onlyReference Source
Cadmium (finished food)0.5 mg/kgNational Feed Standard
Lead (finished feed)5 mg/kgFEDIAF-EU
Mercury (finished food)0.4 mg/kgFEDIAF-EU


SalmonellaAbsence in 5 x 25 gm samplesFEDIAF-EU




The following issues are listed to draw attention to risks associated with specific ingredients:

Heptatoxicosis in dogs following consumption of indospicine contaminated feral species. Use of raw materials from animals with feeding access to the native Indigofera species, prevalent in some outback areas, should be avoided.

Vitamin D toxicosis has been reported in cats and care is needed to ensure dietary levels meet AAFCO guidelines.

Caffeine, theobromine and theophylline are all closely related, naturally occurring chemicals (“methylxanthines”) of plant origin commonly found in foods and beverages, including coffee and chocolate products. Toxicity due to these compounds is most commonly seen in dogs eating chocolate products that can result in acute cardiac and central nervous system stimulation. Cats are also susceptible, but incidences may be less frequent due to the selective nature of their consumption. Methylxanthine compounds are recognised as potentially toxic to dogs and cats and should not be included in pet foods.

Sodium Nitrite may be used only in products over 20% moisture. Where used levels must not exceed 100mg/Kg of pet food* measured at 12% moisture content.


  • Alpharma Technical Bulletin No. CD 0331
  • AAFCO- American Association of Feed Control Officials, official publication.  www.aafco.org
  • MAFF Japan- Ministry of Agriculture Forestry & Fisheries, Japan   www.maff.go.jp
  • FDA- Food & Drug Administration, US.  www.fda.gov
  • FEDIAF- The Eurpoean Petfood Federation, Bruxelles, Belgium,  www.fediaf.org
  • APVMA- Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, Maximum Residue Limits for agricultural and veterinary chemicals in produce and animal feed www.apvma.gov.au
  • CCCF- Codex Committee on Contaminants if Food, Codex CCCF report http://www.codexalimentarius.net/web/archives.jsp?lang=en
  • National Feed Standard (draft)- refer Department of Agriculture & Water eEsources, Canberra. www.agriculture.gov.au
  • Saunders Elsevier. 2006. Small Animal Toxicology, 2nd ed. p.847, Petersen, M. Talcott P
  • *Official Journal of European Union “List of the authorised additives in feedingstuffs (1) published in the application of Article 9t (b) of Council Directive 70/524/EEC concerning additives in feedingstuffs (2004/C 50/01)”
  • European Union Reg 142/20011, page 32,http://eur- lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2011:054:0001:0254:EN:PDF