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Manufacturing Process

 

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Many customers are interested in how Arden Grange pet foods are produced. Our manufacturing process is summarised as follows : -

Much like baking a perfect loaf of bread, the quality of the final product depends upon the quality of the ingredients, the accuracy of weighing and timing, and the performance of the equipment.


Ingredients

Ingredients are sourced from around the world, and are chosen for their quality, consistency, and nutrient value. Every ingredient is tested for all three of these qualities before it is even accepted into the factory. They are then stored in cool, dry conditions until they are needed for manufacture. As an additional check, many of the ingredient producers are routinely audited, to ensure that their manufacturing facilities and procedures are suitable. Wherever possible, ingredients are purchased from the UK to support the British economy and to ensure optimal freshness.


Weighing and mixing

Every recipe is stored within a central computer system, and ingredients are weighed on a range of scales, and then sent to a large mixing chamber, where they are gently combined for 3 minutes. To minimize any variation, the recipes remain fixed and the scales are tested routinely to ensure their accuracy. The mixture is then passed over powerful magnets to ensure that it is free from any metal contamination, and is sent on to the next stage.


Grinding

The next stage is to grind all of the ingredients, which have a variety of sizes, in the equivalent of a huge mortar and pestle. This produces a fine powder (grist), with a similar consistency to baking flour. The blend is then mixed once again and the more delicate ingredients, such as vitamins and trace minerals, are added. We then have a homogenous and fine mixture of up to 50 ingredients, which is then sent on to be cooked. A standard diet contains only about 15 nutrients, whilst “super premium” pet foods such Arden Grange are formulated with many more and attention is paid to both the proportions and to the diversity of sources of the nutrients.


Pre-Conditioning

The first stage of cooking involves conditioning the mixture. Steam and water are added to the grist in a large chamber which contains 30 rotating paddles. Much like dough, the mixture is kneaded until most of the starch molecules are plump and fully hydrated. This process also mixes the grist once again, and pre-cooks the food to approximately 45% of its total “cook”. Pre-conditioning lasts for around 3 minutes, after which time the grist moves on to the final cooking stage.


Extrusion Cooking

The final part of the “cook” only lasts for 30 seconds, but provides for over half of the total cooking process. The grist is passed through a long chamber containing a rotating screw, which forces it to the end and out through small, shaped apertures. The pressure within this chamber can reach over 600 psi, and this causes the plump starch molecules to burst and form a pliable mixture with the other ingredients. As this mixture emerges from the end of the chamber, the dramatic drop in pressure causes the food to expand to form a honeycomb-like structure. A knife then cuts the food into chunks as it emerges, and these light, soft kibbles are tested for their shape, colour, size, and density, before being sent off to the next stage.


Drying

The kibbles emerging from the extrusion cooker contain over 25% water, and since they do not contain any artificial preservatives, they would soon become mouldy and spoil. Therefore, the drier aims to remove around two-thirds of this water by gently blowing hot air around the kibbles, as they pass through the chamber. This takes approximately 20 minutes, and kibbles are continually tested for their moisture content as they emerge from the drier, to ensure that they are satisfactory. These crunchy kibbles are then ready for the next stage.


Coating

As we know with many human foods and snacks, much of the flavour is in the coating. Too much can be overpowering and off-putting, but too little can cause us to lose interest. The same is true for dogs. Therefore, the kibbles are coated accurately and uniformly with a combination of oils and natural flavours which, since the kibbles are coated whilst still hot, permeate throughout the food. There is no added sugar or salt, which are often used as palatability enhancers.


Cooling & Packing

As we would leave baked bread on a wire rack to cool, the same is true of the kibbles. If packed whilst still warm, the kibbles would soon become soft and prone to mould. Therefore, the final stage is to hold the food in a large chamber through which cold air is passed. At this point, samples are also taken from all batches produced, and these are then analysed for a variety of parameters including: nutrient content (e.g. protein, oil, fibre, etc), bacterial loading (e.g. salmonella, campylobacter, etc), and organoleptic features (e.g. smell, colour, size, etc). The samples are also stored for 2 years for future reference. Once the kibbles have cooled to room temperature, and the batch has passed the above checks, the food is ready to be packed and sent off to the customer.

 

Arden Grange pet foods are manufactured in the UK in accordance with the food standards specified by the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) and the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).


Arden Grange pet foods are hypoallergenic and contain no wheat gluten, dairy products, beef or soya. Nor do they contain any artificial colourings, flavourings and preservatives

None of our ingredients are genetically modified