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Where Do Service Dogs Go in Food Processing Plants?
Where Do Service Dogs Go in Food Processing Plants?

Food plants can struggle to manage the presence of service dogs when the need arises for their use. Operational issues and contamination are the biggest obstacles to execute a consistent standard. Service dogs are at times needed for specific purposes, which may impact production areas in processing facilities. The sanitary operations section in the 21 CFR part 117.33 (c) addresses animals in the facility as part of the pest control section of the rule. The rule states as follows:

Pest control. Pests must not be allowed in any area of a food plant. Guard, guide, or pest-detecting dogs may be allowed in some areas of a plant if the presence of the dogs is unlikely to result in contamination of food, food-contact surfaces, or food-packaging materials. Effective measures must be taken to exclude pests from the manufacturing, processing, packing, and holding areas and to protect against the contamination of food on the premises by pests. The use of pesticides to control pests in the plant is permitted only under precautions and restrictions that will protect against the contamination of food, food-contact surfaces, and food-packaging materials.

The FDA puts a very narrow scope on the inclusion of dogs within food processing facilities. As specifically called out in 21 CFR part 117.33 (c), “Guard, guide, or pest-detecting dogs may be allowed in some areas of a plant if the presence of the dogs is unlikely to result in contamination of food, food-contact surfaces, or food-packaging materials.”

A site that uses guide, guard, or pest-detecting dogs will need to follow this rule and demonstrate how their presence will not impact or result in food contamination. Specific guidelines around where dogs are allowed will also need to be defined as part of plant policies or GMP’s. 

In cases when a dog must access the production floor or any other area where food is exposed, packaged or food equipment contamination may occur, the site will need to consider if food and ingredients should be removed from the area. Additionally, they should review what cleaning and sanitizing processes will be required to ensure that the presence of a dog will not create a concern for contamination of the product, raw materials, equipment or packaging materials.

Food processing plants seeking answers to these unique circumstances can rely on AIB International to assist. AIB International succeeds everyday by making it easier for clients to find answers and solutions to food safety questions.








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