For the first time ever, Purina opened its Clinton, Iowa manufacturing plant to media and revealed its production processes.
In October 2018, Pet Food Processing was invited behind the scenes at Purina’s Clinton, Iowa pet food manufacturing facility.
Purina, a St. Louis-based subsidiary of Nestlé, operates 14 pet food processing facilities across the US. The company’s philosophy is to source ingredients as close to each Purina processing plant as possible and manufacture product as close to where it’s sold as possible. Most core Purina brands are produced at multiple locations in order to uphold with this philosophy.
The Clinton plant opened in 1969 and currently employs more than 350 people. This facility received $60 million in capital investment in the last five years and works closely with Purina’s technical services group to test new products before they are rolled out to other Purina production facilities. During the manufacturing tour in Clinton, Purina employees demonstrated how the company’s passion for safe products translates into day to day operations.
Purina conducts more than 100,000 quality and safety checks daily across its entire footprint, integrated into each step of the process. The Clinton plant alone conducts 8,500 quality and safety tests in a typical day. Ingredients are tested for nutrients and other characteristics before entering the building.
At the Clinton location, Purina is piloting the use of near-infrared reflectance (NIR) spectroscopy. It is a fast, cost effective process Purina uses for nutritional verification to ensure the incoming ingredients meet its pre-determined standards.
The Clinton plant manages 335 different ingredients. Every ingredient has a label and barcode and is registered to a location. During ingredient receiving and batching, 700 quality checks are conducted daily. Product density is measured every 15 minutes and is a critical step in the process.
As batches are mixed, extruded, cut, dried, coated, blended and cooled, 1,500 quality checks are performed per day. The majority of these processing steps occur on equipment custom-built by Purina, which utilizes the extrusion process to cook and shape the products.
Once product is finished, more than 4,600 quality checks occur during packaging. Package sizes in Clinton range from ½ oz. to more than 50 lbs.
Samples are tested in the microbiology and chemistry labs and, daily, a team of four employees reviews the results from all quality and safety tests and conducts visual and sensory inspections of samples from each batch before product is released for distribution.
Leveraging more than 500 scientists globally, over 300 patents and 90 years in pet care, Purina currently is focusing on five areas of pet health where the company believes it can make a difference — healthy metabolism, healthy early development, oral health, digestive and microbiome health with a focus on enhancing nutrient absorption and healthy aging.
According to Purina, science is only valuable if it’s successfully transferred to every bag, every bowl and every bite.