Articles by David A. Dzanis, DVM, PhD, DACVN

Feeding tortoises imparts lessons about petfood

Learning how to feed sulcata tortoises inspires reflection on how we feed more conventional pets, particularly dogs and cats
I’ve frequently mentioned my dogs and cats in writings and presentations, and many industry members have heard or read about my small chicken flock as well. However, fewer people know about my penchant for reptiles. I recently added to my collection of snakes, lizards and turtles by adopting three sulcata tortoises over the past year. What I’ve learned about feeding these guys has caused me to reflect on how we feed our more conventional pets, particularly dogs and cats.
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Petfood ingredient definitions: a new role for AAFCO?

If FDA decides not to continue with the current feed ingredient definition process, could AAFCO become a standard-setting body?
A memorandum of understanding between the Association of American Feed Control Officials and the US Food and Drug Administration pertaining to the former’s feed ingredient definition process is due to expire in September 2012. FDA has indicated it does not intend to continue its participation in the process when the agreement expires.
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Calorie statements on petfood labels move forward

A report from the AAFCO Pet Food Committee’s recent deliberations.
During the Association of American Feed Control Officials’ “mid-year” meeting January 17–19, 2012, in Reno, Nevada, USA, the agenda for the Pet Food Committee was relatively light, with no new items up for discussion. Yet one piece of old business held court. It was the amendment to AAFCO Model Regulation PF9, which would in part require a calorie content statement on all dog and cat food labels (currently it is only mandatory on “lite” and “less calories” product labels).  
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Petfood innovation: marketing vs. regulatory

In a competitive marketplace, products need innovative ingredients that are marketed to consumers—but in a way that complies with regulations.
While the marketing, R&D and regulatory departments within a petfood company share a common goal—to contribute to the success of the company—the respective functions of the first two departments compared to the last often appear diametrically opposed. In a competitive marketplace, the need to distinguish your products from others is a major key to success.
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How do you solve a problem like glucosamine in petfood?

With apologies to The Sound of Music — confusion over including glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate in petfoods still rages.
Glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate have been ingredients in petfoods for most of the last 20 years. However, neither ingredient ever has been formally approved or otherwise sanctioned for that purpose. This should not stop interested states from meeting and agreeing to uniform labeling requirements.
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Petfood petition sent to White House

A petition posted on the ‘We the People’ site requests that the FDA be ordered to strictly enforce a law as it pertains to petfood ingredients
In late October, a consumer advocate started a petition on the “We the People” page of the White House website (www.whitehouse.gov). The petition requests that the Obama Administration instruct the US Food and Drug Administration to enforce a strict interpretation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) as it pertains to suitability of ingredients for use in petfood or, lacking that, require a label disclaimer on all petfoods that do not meet the standards as set forth by the exact verbiage in the law.
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FDA to communicate more clearly?

Under the Plain Writing Act of 2010, US agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration will have to use plain English in their communications
While many petfood companies have been preoccupied with concern about the ramifications of the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act and the Food Safety Modernization Act on their businesses, another piece of legislation appears to have gone largely unnoticed.
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DSHEA revisited for pet supplements?

If a 1994 law addressing dietary supplements for humans becomes applicable to animal products, it would shake up the regulatory landscape
In a presentation at the annual meeting of the National Animal Supplement Council a few months ago, a representative of the US Food and Drug Administration made a very interesting comment. He said that in FDA’s attempt to find “legal homes” for the plethora of unapproved ingredients currently on the market, one possibility is for FDA to reconsider the applicability of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) for products intended for animal consumption.
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AAFCO votes on specialty petfood labels

During the AAFCO annual meeting, members also approved a change in the L-carnitine ingredient definition
The 102nd Annual Convention of the Association of American Feed Control Officials was held July 30 to August 1, 2011, in Austin, Texas, USA. There were some, but not very many, items directly affecting petfood. Since the AAFCO recently changed its procedures so the membership now votes at both the annual and midyear meetings, the number of items up for consideration in the general session seemed fewer this year than at annual meetings past.
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New AAFCO website to help small petfood manufacturers

‘The Business of Pet Food’ was designed for smaller producers who have limited understanding of state and federal regulatory requirements
In the September 2010 issue of Petfood Industry, I briefly reported on the Association of American Feed Control Officials’ intent to launch a website designed particularly to help small manufacturers understand and comply with labeling and other state and federal regulatory requirements. The preview of the site at last year’s annual meeting met with tremendous applause from the audience.
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