The sooner a dog, cat or other pet food company contacts the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), the sooner that brand can launch a new product using novel pet food ingredients. Susan Hays, executive director of AAFCO, discussed the value of working with AAFCO early in the new pet food product development process during Petfood Forum 2020.
“The ideal time for someone to come to AAFCO is before you do your formulation,” Hayes said. “Talk to your investigator as soon as you know you're going to start a new product because we want you to have all the information that you need in case you need a new definition. We can help you work with the existing definitions as well so you don't always have to go to a new definition.”
Waiting to contact AAFCO can lead to expensive delays, she said.
“So many times, people wait too long,” Hayes said. “They do their formulation. They actually almost get to the point of production and then they come to AAFCO and say oh by the way we need this definition. The process takes 18 to 24 months. That’s time you cannot market your product, so that's not good.”
Defining a pet food ingredient takes time, because the process of developing official definitions involves various steps.
“It's very intensive because we want to make sure that the product is safe for the intended species and for the intended use,” she said. “That's our number one priority, is the safety of it. We have multiple steps that we go through with getting information from you that is also reviewed by CVM, the Center for Veterinary Medicine within FDA . Then we let industry know that the definition is available, and it sits in sort of an open forum for a while. It can be revised during this time. It is ultimately voted on by the members as official. That's the point in time when it can be used.”
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