Pet food continues to include more novel ingredients, but the federal regulatory framework that monitors the inclusion of novel ingredients may be reaching a crisis point after nearly a decade of uncertainty, reported Petfood Industry.
The concern is a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates pet foods in the US, and the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), which approves definitions for ingredients used in pet foods. Originally adopted in 2007, the MOU has been extended three times since, with the latest extension set to last through October 1, 2017.
Once that MOU expires, no one has a clear forecast of what will occur. Back in 2012, the same concerns arose as the MOU received its second extension.
“The problem with this cooperative activity is that although the AAFCO process is scientifically rigorous, from FDA’s perspective it is based on enforcement discretion – i.e., not a formally sanctioned procedure for acceptance of new feed ingredients,” wrote David Dzanis, DVM, PhD, DACVN, in a Petfood Insights column at the end of 2012.
Besides jeopardizing future approval of pet food novel ingredients via the AAFCO definition process, discontinuation of the MOU could make as many as 500 ingredients currently used in pet food suddenly non-compliant with the law.
However, an FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine official stated that there are no plans to abruptly change pet food ingredient regulations.
“We wouldn’t do anything to affect the safety or availability of pet foods,” said Jenny Murphy, consumer safety officer with CVM’s Office of Surveillance and Compliance, during the recent Feed and Pet Food Joint Conference 2016. “That would be hugely problematic for consumers and pet food companies, and I think Congress would frown on that.”
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