The feeding of raw petfood has been a controversy for decades. Both sides of the discussion have their extremist factions, with some believing it is the ultimately healthful means of feeding dogs and cats and others convinced it constitutes a wholly unwarranted risk to the health of both pets and the people feeding them.
In October, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed new regulations to implement aspects of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) for animal feeds (including petfoods), similar to those proposed for foods for human consumption earlier this year. The law, enacted in 2011, addresses sweeping changes to regulation of food for both man and other animals, including the establishment of preventive controls, improved inspection and response capabilities, improved oversight of imports, and enhanced partnerships with domestic and international regulatory bodies.
Any petfood manufacturer distributing product in the US needs to be familiar with the contents of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) Official Publication (OP) to formulate and label products to be in compliance with the regulations of most states. As mentioned in my October Petfood Industry column, an online version of the OP is now available.
In September, the agency published two guidance documents (one proposed, one final) regarding additives for use in animal feed, including petfood. The subject matter that is covered by these documents is not particularly new; however, the guidance they offer to the petfood industry is very helpful.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) held its annual meeting August 13-15 in St. Pete Beach, Florida, USA. Perhaps the biggest announcement at the meeting was the introduction of an online version of the AAFCO Official Publication.
To appeal to the concerns of many petfood purchasers in the US, the claim "Made in USA" or similar verbiage, often accompanied by a depiction of the American flag, is not uncommon on petfood labels these days. Neither the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nor the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has any regulations or expressed policies regarding use of the claim.
As the moderator for the sessions on petfood safety at the 2013 Petfood Forum, I can say without fear of contradiction that Salmonella control was a very hot topic. Multiple speakers addressed the subject, and the information conveyed to the manufacturers in the audience was indeed timely.
As previously reported, recent amendments to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) Model Regulations for Pet Food and Specialty Pet Food will require calorie content statements on all dog and cat food labels within the next few years (the exact time frame for compliance is still to be determined). There currently are two AAFCO-accepted methods upon which to determine and report metabolizable energy (ME).
As discussed in last month's column, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) Pet Food Committee accepted recommendations from the expert panel (with minor amendments) for revision to the AAFCO Dog and Cat Food Nutrient Profiles at its January 2013 meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. At the same meeting, the committee also accepted recommended revisions to the dog and cat feeding trial protocols, which may be used as an alternative means to substantiate the nutritional adequacy of "complete and balanced" petfoods.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) Pet Food Committee accepted (with minor revision) the expert panel's recommendations to update the AAFCO Dog and Cat Food Nutrient Profiles. The European Pet Food Industry Federation (FEDIAF) also revised its Nutritional Guidelines for Complete and Complementary Pet Food for Dogs and Cats in July 2012, and both organizations reportedly relied in part on recommendations from the National Research Council's (NRC) Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats, published in 2006. Yet, the three documents deviate in their stated nutrient values, sometimes to very significant degrees. Why? Where do they differ; who should the petfood manufacturer follow?