The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), the independent organization that provides ingredient definitions, label standards and laboratory guidance for state, federal and international feed regulators, has issued a position paper and call to action on hemp and its byproducts in livestock feed and companion animal pet food.
AAFCO wants to encourage the hemp and feed industries to continue researching the proposed hemp and hemp byproducts as nutritional ingredients to gather data on the products' safety and efficacy. The products to be evaluated include whole hemp plants, hemp seed oil, CBD and other cannabinoids.
When the data gathering is complete, AAFCO can formally define the various ingredients and provide standards for safe pet and livestock feed with that information. The AAFCO Guide to Submitting New Ingredient Definitions (Chapter 6) can be downloaded here.
Susan M. Hays, AAFCO executive director, said, "We understand the hemp industry is eager to enter the animal food market, but we are concerned that not enough research has been completed on these products. That's why we are urging the hemp industry to conduct appropriate research and submit its results to us for review as a normal step in our ingredient approval process."
The 2018 Farm Bill legalized growing hemp, but any feed ingredient, including hemp products, falls under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is not yet known whether hemp products are safe to feed to all animal species. Research is needed to address the levels of THC and other cannabinoids in hemp and what effects the content will have on the intended uses and species.
For any ingredient to be used in animal food, thorough scientific research must be completed to ensure nutritional and safety benefits. "Allowing hemp byproducts to be used for animal nutrition before rigorous research and legal approval processes have been completed could have adverse impacts on ranchers' access to markets, on animal health and ultimately on human health when hemp-fed animal products enter the human food chain," Hays emphasized.
Recently, proponents of hemp in feed have focused on passing state legislation to allow in-state use of hemp as a feed ingredient, despite the lack of a national approval based on a comprehensive scientific review of its safety.
AAFCO is concerned that bringing hemp products to market through a state-by-state patchwork of laws, without the backing of in-depth research and a formal review process, will lead to inconsistent manufacturing methods, unsupported marketing claims across the country and restriction of interstate and international markets.
AAFCO encourages lawmakers to work with key stakeholders like the FDA, United States Department of Agriculture, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, livestock and dairy associations, consumer advocacy groups and AAFCO itself within the formal process for review and approval of hemp and its byproducts for animal nutrition. AAFCO can help guide hemp producers through the submission and review process.
AAFCO's Hemp and Hemp Byproducts in Animal Food position paper is presented here. Current (2020) AAFCO Guidelines on Hemp in Animal Food can be found here. For further information or inquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lindsay Beaton
Pet food safety is top-of-mind all along the production line, and everything from the ingredients to the equipment must offer solutions.
By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson
Many hours, efforts, dollars and brainpower go into pet food companies’ and regulatory bodies’ efforts to ensure that products on the market are safe and healthy for pets.