Evanger’s is unique in that it does its own processing, meaning unlike many other pet food manufacturers, Evanger’s oversees every step of manufacturing, and maintains complete quality control of every product we sell. Each day, Evanger’s sends its own trucks to collect U.S.A farm fresh ingredients for use in our growing variety of cat food, dog food, and ferret food recipes. With the help of a notable Chicago food buyer used by many of Chicago’s finest restaurants and hotels, Evanger’s ensures that its ingredient quality is of the highest caliber. 90% of our ingredients are collected within 50 miles of our facility. Other ingredients, which are still grown on U.S.A farms, represent specialty ingredients not available in Illinois, such as the certified organic meats used in our Evanger’s Organics line for dogs and cats.
Within 24 hours of arrival, each of these farm fresh ingredients is used to create one of our unique Evanger’s recipes for dogs, cats, and ferrets. We are proud of our meticulous manufacturing process, and invite customers to learn more about it, as described below.
Shipping & Receiving
All suppliers have to be approved through our rigorous vendor approval program. This means our suppliers have to be inspected by a third party human-grade accredited auditor, such as USDA, FDA, AIB, or SQF certifications.
Even before raw materials are unloaded, they are inspected in Evanger’s loading dock. In this area, a designated operator will visually inspect all inbound and outbound goods. Products are inspected for any discoloration, any odor, any compromise of integrity of packaging, trailer cleanliness, climatic condition, or any other signs of damage or adulteration. All of this is done before the raw materials enter our facility, so if one aspect does not meet our requirements, we reject the materials. Raw ingredients are then directed to their respective warehouse, storage, cooler, or holding area.
Many other pet food companies utilize ground, emulsified, or MDM (mechanically separated) meat, whereas Evanger’s, with its rich history in sourcing raw pet food materials locally, utilizes whole parts of meat so that we are able to see exactly what it is we are receiving, and know exactly what goes into our products. This also allows less processing of our foods, and more nutrition for your pets. While many pet food manufacturers use frozen ingredients, Evanger’s believes in the value of using fresh, never frozen, raw materials. It is more difficult to operate this way, but delivers a superior product to pets, which is one reason Evanger’s has earned many accolades in palatability studies. Using fresh products enables Evanger’s to use “the smell test” for an extra level of product integrity. Using frozen products often shields aromas such as rancidity or decomposition.
In the processing area, all raw materials are introduced into the mixing and filling system. Evanger’s exports to many countries, like the European Union and Russia, to name a few, whose governments require extremely strict processing procedures. Evanger’s goes to great lengths to meet each country’s specific standards on a daily basis. Even Organic certifications have their own strict operating procedures that must be met.
Evanger’s cooks batch sizes of approximately 4,000 lbs. of freshly packed product.
Evanger’s has Critical Control Points, which is a preventative approach to pet food safety. Processing is our first Critical Control Point. The cooking is tightly monitored. We have redundancies within our system, and operate using the “worst case scenario” as an additional layer of safety.
- Raw materials are first loaded onto an inspection table, where personnel can visually inspect the raw materials for any unwanted ingredients. From there, all inspected meat, fish, or poultry, or potatoes/sweet potatoes will go through the grinding process. From the grinder, the meaty pulp is fed into a mixer, where other ingredients may be added, such as fruits, vegetables, vitamins, or minerals. From the mixer, the food is pumped to a filling machine through a magnet trap and metal detector. All of the processing machinery is stainless steel, FDA and USDA -approved for food contact.
- Product is then packed into steel cans, which are “topped” to create head space into which live steam is injected. This process evacuates any oxygen, creating a vacuum. A lid is then automatically placed on the can and seamed by the closing machine. This hermetic seal eliminates any chance of post-contamination. Seam and vacuum checks are made periodically to ensure the integrity of the seam. Filled cans are checked for proper fill weight by an inline check weigh machine. After pet food is inserted into cans and have been seamed, an Operator washes the containers with high pressure hot water to remove any food residue that may have occurred during the filling process.
- An Operator monitors cooking time and temperature of each batch. The critical limit of FC (F0) will be recorded with time/temperature recording devices. All records are kept on-site for a minimum of five years. Operators then review the recording chart for meeting critical limit. Any products that do not meet Critical Limit are destroyed.
Additional Quality Control
A third party processing authority conducts sterility tests by probing cans while they are cooking to determine how long it takes for the internal temperature of the food to reach a level of commercial sterility. Evanger’s has this process authority test all pet food recipe styles (ie: loaf, cuts in gravy) and all size containers. These scheduled file processes are then filed with the FDA, and are what Evanger’s uses as its basis for its minimum process. FDA applauds that Evanger’s goes beyond the minimum required cook temperatures, adding yet another layer of food safety to all of Evanger’s pet food products.
Every can is coded with a lot number, which gives us full traceability throughout the process and distribution. For instance, with a lot number, we can determine when the food was made, how it was process, for which length of time, and at what temperature, the personnel involved in the processing, which raw materials went into the batch, (along with all of the ingredients and lot numbers of those ingredients), the product name and type, and the distribution from our warehouse. From that lot number, we are also able to pull retained samples and sterility reports pertaining to that lot.
Labeling & Packaging
All containers receive labels and are packed into appropriate master trays. As each can is labeled, personnel inspects each and every can for any damages, and removes it from the line so that it does not go into distribution. Once the cans are placed into recyclable trays, someone does a final wipe of tops of the cans for optimal presentation. The case of food is shrink wrapped, and sent to the warehouse.
The finished product is inventoried and prepared for shipment. A final visual inspection is made. Then, the Operator inspects all shipping vehicles for cleanliness before loading, documenting and notifying a supervisor if any deficient condition exists…yet another layer of safety checks.
Retained samples of products are incubated for not less than the prescribed 10-day (240-hour) period under the conditions listed below.
- Incubator has an accurate temperature/time recording device, an indicating temperature device, a means for circulating air inside the incubator to prevent temperature variations, and a means to prevent unauthorized access into the incubator.
- During the test, the incubation temperature is to be maintained at the prescribed 95oF +/- 5oF temperature. If the incubation temperature falls below 90o F or exceed 100o F but does not reach 103o F, the incubation temperature must be adjusted within the required range and the incubation time extended for the time the sample containers were held at the deviant temperature. If the incubation temperature is at or above 103o F for more than 2 hours, the incubation test must be terminated, the temperature lowered to within the required range, and new sample containers incubated for the required time.
- Critical limit is no visible container expansion (gas production which indicates FC (F0) greater than 3.0.)
- All events are recorded and retained for the prescribed two (2) year minimum period. All events are monitored periodically during the incubation period. The Operator reviews the event records immediately after completion, reporting any abnormality of the event to a supervisor. If expansion exists, the product is destroyed.