Champion Puts Transparency Into Action
Three of Champion's Transparency Council members—(L-R) Dr. Messonnier, Andrea Coffman and April Scott—with Don King, vice president of marketing for Champion Petfoods.
Earlier this year, Edmonton, Alb.-based Champion Petfoods made news when it established the industry’s first Transparency Council. The independent four-person committee made up of two veterinarians and two consumers held their first meeting in late April at Champion’s DogStar Kitchens plant in Bowling Green, Ky., where they toured the facility and learned what transparency means to Champion.
“I was really impressed with how clean everything was,” says Dr. Shawn Messonnier of Plano, Texas, who is on the Council with Dr. Clayton Greenway of Scarborough, Ont., along with consumers Andrea Coffman of Tulsa, Okla., and April Scott of Toronto. “It is cleaner than a lot of human kitchens that I’ve been in. They had us wash our shoes using a germicidal scrubber as we went from area to area because they don’t want to track germs inside the facility. We had to wear hair nets and couldn’t wear any jewelry.”
Messonnier says steps like that can drastically cut down the risk of pathogens like listeria, E. coli and salmonella making their way into the food.
“While you can never totally prevent a problem because things can always happen, Champion is going way overboard and way above what they should be doing to really minimize that problem,” he says.
The initial meeting also included a field trip to a lake an hour and a half away where the council members went out on a boat with fishermen to catch catfish.
Why go through the trouble of using wild-caught catfish instead of the more common farm-raised?
“Usually, farm-raised animals have antibiotics and chemicals added to their feed, and sometimes they do not have as high of an omega-3 ratio because they are being fed things they would not eat in the wild,” Messonnier explains.
He adds that the council members are already looking forward to their second meeting in September, when they are scheduled to visit a bison ranch and also one of the farms from which Champion sources its vegetables.