and suppliers' procedures and practices for protecting and ensuring diet quality (e.g., storage, vermin-control, and handling procedures). Institutions should urge feed vendors to provide data from feed analysis for critical nutrients periodically. The date of manufacture and other factors that affect shelf-life of food should be known by the user. Stale food or food transported and stored inappropriately can become deficient in nutrients. Careful attention should be paid to quantities received in each shipment, and stock should be rotated so that the oldest food is used first.
Areas in which diets and diet ingredients are processed or stored should be kept clean and enclosed to prevent entry of pests. Food should be stored off the floor on pallets, racks, or carts. Unused, opened bags of food should be stored in vermin-proof containers to minimize contamination and to avoid potential spread of disease agents. Exposure to temperatures above 21ºC (70ºF), extremes in relative humidity, unsanitary conditions, light, oxygen, and insects and other vermin hasten the deterioration of food. Precautions should be taken if perishable items—such as meats, fruits, and vegetables—are fed, because storage conditions are potential sources of contamination and can lead to variation in food quality. Contaminants in food can have dramatic effects on biochemical and physiologic processes, even if the contaminants are present in concentrations too low to cause clinical signs of toxicity. For example, some contaminants induce the synthesis of hepatic enzymes that can alter an animal' 5 response to drugs (Ames and others 1993; Newberne 1975). Some experimental protocols might require the use of pretested animal diets in which both biologic and nonbiologic contaminants are identified and their concentrations documented.
Most natural-ingredient, dry laboratory-animal diets that contain preservatives and are stored properly can be used up to about 6 months after manufacture. Vitamin C in manufactured feeds, however, gene rally has a shelf-life of only 3 months. The use of stabilized forms of vitamin C can extend the shelf-life of feed. If a diet containing outdated vitamin C is to be fed to animals that require dietary vitamin C, it is necessary to provide an appropriate vitamin C supplement. Refrigeration preserves nutritional quality and lengthens shelf-life, but food-storage time should be reduced to the lowest practical period and the recommendations of manufacturers should be considered. Purified and chemically defined diets are often less stable than natural-ingredient diets, and their shelf-life is usually less than 6 months (Fullerton and others 1982); these diets should be stored at 4ºC (39ºF) or lower.
Autoclavable diets require adjustments in nutrient concentrations, kinds of ingredients, and methods of preparation to withstand degradation during sterilization (Wostman 1975). The date of sterilization should be recorded and the diet used quickly. Irradiated diets might be considered as an alternative to autoclaved diets.
Feeders should be designed and placed to allow easy access to food and to minimize contamination with urine and feces. When animals are housed in groups,