New Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Supplement Calming Care is a prescription-only powder that is sprinkled
on a dog’s food and is proven to lower cortisol levels and
reduce anxious behaviors after six weeks.
At the factory level, science is the baseline.
Every existing product, every new product innovation, every product renovation produced at the Clinton factory is predicated on a science-backed recipe direct from Purina headquarters in St. Louis.
In its simplest terms, Jason Christoffersen, vice president, technical services, likens the manufacturing of the
more than 100 products made at the factory in Clinton to
It starts with a recipe and “wholesome raw materials.”
“The recipe … that’s what allows us to take a very
complex science from our research field and translate that
to every bag, every bowl and every bite,” Christoffersen
After being formulated by nutritionists in St. Louis,
a recipe is going “to be part of a bigger recipe that tells
us what specific packaging supplies we should be using
for that product, it’s going to tell us what equipment we
should run, etc.,” said Candace Claeys, Clinton quality
After receiving, ingredients are batched, or mixed, to-
gether using Clinton’s multimillion-dollar micro minor
batching system, which has been operational going on six
years now, and which Christoffersen refers to as “mea-
suring spoons and measuring cups” but “just on a little
bit different scale.”
Clinton runs more daily quality assurance checks—a
whopping 8,500—than any of Purina’s other 19 factories.
“This plant is more complicated,” Henke-Cilenti said.
“We do a lot more testing here, so, therefore, they have
more quality checks.”
Inspections don’t only happen “after the fact,” Bear
emphasized. “It’s built in; it’s part of the process.”
Of a myriad of quality checks run daily at Clinton and
overseen by Claeys and her team, the testing of recipes is
“one of the behind-the-scenes, automated quality checks
going on all the time.”
“All of our raw materials are actually labeled with a
bar code. If we scan that material and if that bar code
doesn’t align with what should be in that recipe, it is go-
ing to stop us right there,” she said.
The thousands of daily quality checks in Clinton include load inspections of delivery vehicles; mycotoxin
testing of grain shipments; nutritional verification; product being automatically diverted from extrusion if the
temperature falls beneath a certain threshold; operators
looking for irregularities in the kibble; and finished product samples being tested in Clinton’s microbiology and
“We have an in-process specification for every one
of our products telling us everything we should know
about the product, from the size, shape, thickness of the
kibble to moisture, bushel weight, etc., and our operators
are looking at these things,” Claeys added.
One of the more interesting quality checks involves
near-infrared (NIR) fingerprinting.
A probe is inserted into an ingredient like cheese
powder, which it scans and compares to a profile of
what cheese powder is supposed to look like. If results
are not conclusive, the ingredient is rejected or sent to a
third-party lab for further testing.
“Operators are trained to understand all of the differ-
ent requirements for all of the products that we have,”
The attention to detail “doesn’t stop at the four factory
walls,” Christoffersen said. “We go out to suppliers and
farmers on the front end. We also go out to retailers and
Purina suppliers go through a rigorous process of
sample testing, site assessments and yearly visits, wheth-
er it’s a pumpkin farm in Illinois or an Alaskan fishing
“We know that the best way to protect our products
is to prevent problems from coming in the door in the
first place, so that’s why our ingredient programs are so
strong and we’re so diligent about the testing we do in
ingredient receiving,” Claeys said.
Traceability is the watchword of any good quality-as-surance program.
“Every package has a date code printed on that pack-
age, and we use that to trace all the way back to what sup-
pliers have supplied our ingredients in that package and
all the way forward to where we’ll ship that product and
which retailer’s shelves it will be on,” Claeys explained.
“Quality checks are integrated into every single step of
And as another failsafe, all Clinton employees are em-
powered to shut down a line if something seems off.
The company’s approach appears to be working, because in the past 10 years, the state and U.S. Food & Drug
Administration (FDA) have inspected the Clinton facility
32 times with no observations or violations, according to
Claeys added, “nothing is able to ship out of this factory until our quality assurance department has given the
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 6
BY JEN SOTOLONGO
In the pet industry, sustainability is a concept hat is getting harder to ignore. Many indus- try participants report that pet owners are
increasingly seeking products from companies
that focus on operating in the most socially and
eco-conscious ways possible—and the proof,
they say, will be in the sales.
Consumers, particularly millennials, expect
companies to address environmental and social
issues in their products, manufacturing and supply chains.
In fact, Spencer Williams, owner and CEO of
Bozeman, Mont.-based West Paw, said sustain-
ability “is a must-have when it comes to attract-
ing millennial shoppers.”
“Sustainability matters in the pet industry
because, like anything you put out in the world,
you want to make sure it does more good than
harm,” Williams said. “People are always going
to purchase dog toys, beds, leashes and collars
for their dogs, so buying products that are manu-
factured in a sustainable manner is a way to vote
for taking care of the earth with your dollars.”
The certified B Corporation manufactures
dog toys using eco-friendly and recycled materi-
als, such as its proprietary Zogoflex, a recyclable
plastic blend used to produce toys that custom-
ers are encouraged to recycle by sending them
back to the company when they have outlived
their usefulness. The company is also a founding
member of the Pet Sustainability Coalition (PSC),
a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to
advance business through practices that are en-
vironmentally and socially conscious, as well as
Azusa, Calif.-based Cardinal Pet Care, a manufacturer and marketer of dog products and a
member of PSC, has practiced sustainability since
its beginning in 1948.
“The definition of ‘sustainability’ is rather
simple,” said owner Tony de Vos. “It means
thinking about the future and making business
plans and decisions that will ensure enough re-
sources for future generations. Rather than just
focusing on the financial bottom line, businesses
need to look at the triple bottom line.”
The triple bottom line refers to taking into
consideration people, the planet and profit when
it comes to business practices. Proponents of this
perspective assert that companies that focus sole-
ly on the economic benefit will ultimately suffer
in the long run when they lose their customer
base or the supplies they require to make their
products no longer exist.
“In order to make sure we have future customers, pet parents and pets, and future employ-
Being Green Becomes an Imperative
Members of the Pet Sustainability Coalition (PSC) explain why sustainability should be a top priority for the industry.
West Paw recently opened its doors to its community as part of an effort
to change people’s perceptions about today’s manufacturing environment
and draw attention to the career opportunities it offers.