US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will conduct its first training pet food facility Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) inspectors in the third week of October, with additional inspector training to be done in a phased manner, said Jenny Murphy, of FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, in a press release. Murphy spoke at the 2016 Feed and Pet Food Joint Conference in Des Moines, Iowa, USA. She is consumer safety officer in the Office of Surveillance and Compliance.

The FSMA-comliance inspectors will be using the same curriculum developed by the Food Safety Preventive Control Alliance (FSCPA) Animal Food Subcommittee as is available to industry members.

"State agencies want to be your partners; we want to figure this out together," said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey during his Oct. 11 keynote address to the Feed and Pet Food Joint Conference.

The conference is an annual collaboration between the Pet Food Institute (PFI) and National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA).

More than 300 representatives of the animal feed and pet food industries attended the day-and-a-half conference, which concluded Oct. 12.

FSMA and the pet food industry

The first implementation stage of the Preventive Controls for Animal Food rule, which requires facilities to develop and implement current good manufacturing practice (CGMP) requirements, is already in effect for the largest companies. Future regulatory deadlines under FSMA continue until 2019.

Murphy recognized the enormity of new FSMA regulations for the industry, adding that the compliance process will be a learning opportunity for FDA regulators as well as animal feed and pet food businesses.

FSMA pet food facility inspection focus

Inspections of the animal food industry initially will be focused solely on the Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs) requirements, she said, and that inspections of the largest animal feed and pet food facilities to which the regulations now apply would begin as early as the last week of October, with the initial focus on education. However, she said FDA would take regulatory action if it encounters hazardous conditions that pose a public health risk during such inspections.

In addition, the agency has published three draft guidances to assist pet food and animal feed industries in the first stages of FSMA compliance, and Murphy encouraged the audience to submit comments and opinions on those documents.

"We welcome your comments. That's what helps us make [the guidances] better and make them more user-friendly for you," she said. "Tell us what we didn't get right; we want to fix it."

The FSMA deadline for CGMPs for animal food was September 19, 2016. View the full FSMA implementation schedule.