Pet food organisation launches raw food certification scheme

Digby Bodenham
15 March 2021 - 3 min read

The Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA) is launching a certification scheme for raw food that aims to be a “world-leading programme for best practice raw pet food production”.

The PFMA is a trade body that represents pet food manufacturers in the UK. Along with giving them a voice it aims to set standards on things like hygiene in the production process.

The idea of the raw food certification scheme came from the PFMA’s 17 commercial raw food members, who make up 80% of the UK’s raw pet food market.

For more on food, check out our history of pet food, it's a fascinating look at the changes to how we feed our pets.

PFMA guidelines for the production of raw food already exist (you can see them here but be warned, it’s a long technical document) and the new scheme is designed to set a gold standard for hygiene in the manufacturing process and the nutritional content of the food. It also has a fact sheet on raw food for owners that many vets recommend people use if they're planning on feeding raw.

With raw food rising in popularity and more and more companies creating raw brands, the scheme aims to give pet owners confidence they're giving their dogs and cats safe and healthy diets.

If you're interested in raw, read our guide to everything owners need to know about raw pet food.

We spoke to Jonathan Self, CEO of raw pet food company Honey’s, about the scheme. He welcomed the move because he believes many of the new manufacturers could be working to higher standards.

He said: “Some use poor quality ingredients and others don’t formulate their recipes properly. Few employ veterinary professionals to check the health of the dogs they feed. I don’t think any of them have bothered to comply with the international standards for canine nutrition as laid down by Fediaf and AAFCO. So, it is great that the PFMA is trying to impose a bit of order on the whole sector.”

But despite it being a positive move he added: “I very much doubt that Honey’s will apply for PFMA certification in the future for the simple reason that we suspect its standards will be far too low.”

Honey’s consults with vets and vet nurses to get the right nutritional mix in its food and it sources British free-range and organic meat and vegetables. Jonathan said, “if we weren’t putting it into dog food, the same ingredients would be sold for human food”. And Honey’s also visits all its producers to ensure they meet its animal welfare standards.

The vets we spoke to welcomed the scheme but also flagged that it could have limitations, including other companies deciding not to join it.

Dr Sophie Bell said: “PMFA foods do not mean that they are necessarily [nutritionally] complete, they mostly indicate that the label is honest, so you know what you are given.”

And ManyPets Sarah Dawson, who is a registered vet nurse, said regulating raw food is a good thing but she’d like to see where the evidence behind any decisions comes from.

There is no set date for the launch of the scheme but it is due in the coming months. We’ve asked the PFMA how pet owners will be able to find out if a manufacturer has a certificate and when we know we’ll update this article.

Greg Van Praagh, PFMA Chairman, said: “In 2017, PFMA launched its Guidelines for the Manufacture of Raw Pet Food. This was our first best practice guideline, which we developed in conjunction with Defra, the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA). The new certification scheme is a continuation of this work and is the gold standard for producing commercial raw pet food.”