Animal advocacy groups are asking the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue tougher standards for pet food, according to a report.

FDA is set to issue regulations by September that will fulfill a mandate from 2007 legislation requiring updated nutritional and ingredient information on pet food labels.

At issue are recalls, labeling requirements, and standards for ingredients.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) says it wants FDA to set standards that force manufacturers to issue recalls if their products have been linked to an illness or death in a certain number of animals. Currently, pet food manufacturers can issue voluntary recalls, or the FDA can request or order one. Advocates say they want triggers that require companies to initiate a recall after a certain number of animals become ill or die after ingesting a product.

However, Cathleen Enright, president and CEO of the Pet Food Institute, says FDA already has that authority.

"Are all those who are mandating a recall wishing to put that food safety authority into the hands of industry?” she said.

Pet food labels

Animal advocates say food coloring in pet food should be banned because animals are not swayed by the color of their food. Enright disagrees, saying food coloring is an issue of personal preference.

"We need to ensure that all ingredients are acceptable for pet food," she said. "If it's not a safety issue or health issue or nutrition issue, it's approved."

Standards for ingredients

Animal advocacy groups want a higher standard for ingredients that go into pet food.

“Pet food should be prohibited from having ingredients taken from 4D bins,” said Kathy Guillermo, a senior vice president at PETA. “This is the term that refers to where they place the bodies of animals that are dead, dying and diseased.”

Guillermo said 4D bins contain parts of animals that have been rejected for human consumption, and that they are commonly used in pet food products.