POMPANO BEACH, Fla. — All-natural dog chew company, Nature Gnaws, discussed in detail its processing and food safety procedures to address recent concerns about contaminated dog chews, as the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to investigate a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella linked to pig ear dog treats that has affected 143 people.

Florida-based Nature Gnaws uses a five-step process to source, produce, test and package its dog chews, which it explained in a video and blog post on its website.

First, the company sources its chews from South America. Steve Mamak and Jay Mokbel, co-founders of Nature Gnaws, have personally met with each of their suppliers to verify the quality of the ingredients, how they are cleaned, baked and shipped, Mamak says.

“It’s really important to understand that we source all the product ourselves, from raw material to producing the product to the packaging here. Then we have some safety steps in between that we do that makes us really different than most other competitors on the market,” Mamak says.

Nature Gnaws says its chews are cleaned with water only then baked for 72 hours at very high temperatures. The cleaning and baking process does not involve any chemicals.

Next, the company irradiates the animal products to eliminate any bacteria, including Salmonella and E. coli.

“Irradiation may sound like a scary word but, in reality, a majority of the food we eat and the medical devices we use are irradiated,” Mamak says. He goes on to explain that irradiation is known to be a safe and effective way to achieve food safety, and has been endorsed by the CDC, US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and World Health Organization (WHO).

After products are irradiated, they are sent to Midwest Laboratories for microbial testing. The products are then brought back to the facility to be packaged and inspected by hand. Nature Gnaws employees check the size and shape of each chew for consistency and safety, and those chews that do not meet the company’s specifications are donated to local animal shelters through a program it calls “Gnaw it Forward.”

To eliminate cross-contamination, employees clean the facility’s packing tables with vinegar and use UV Light Emitting Machines to make sure those areas have been disinfected. The UV technology is often used for disinfecting in hospitals, Mamak adds.

“The health and safety of every dog is the cornerstone of our business. We started this company with the intention of providing transparent products and processes,” Mamak says. “Every consumer deserves to know what they are giving their pets.”

With more and more pet owners asking questions about processes, ingredient sourcing and food safety standards, brands that take a transparent approach are gaining trust and marking their territories in the pet food and treat markets.

Nature Gnaws is part of Torito Brands LLC, and sells bully sticks and various kinds of jerky chews, including beef, salmon, pork, yak and antlers, through Amazon.

Read more about pet food safety on our Operations page.