3 controversial pet food ingredients debated by AAFCO

Association of American Feed Control Officials members discussed the use of hemp and insect pet food ingredients, along with processed fruits and vegetables.

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(zatvornik | BigStock.com)

Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) members debated the use of certain pet food ingredients in the deliberations of the Ingredient Definitions Committee during a meeting in January. David Dzanis, DVM, PhD, reported the committee’s decisions in his Petfood Industry column "AAFCO discusses use of unacceptable pet food ingredients."

1. Hemp

AAFCO issued guidelines that no hemp-based ingredients have yet been defined or otherwise sanctioned for use in animal feed. AAFCO members based their decision on the US Food and Drug Administration’s position. Hence, any inclusion of hemp-based ingredients in pet food would be objectionable to state feed control officials.

FDA has posted a Q&A paper regarding the use of marijuana-based products for both people and pets. With regard to its use in food, FDA's position is that cannabidiol (CBD, the non-psychoactive component of hemp associated with purported health benefits) is an unapproved drug, hence any pet food containing CBD would be actionable as an adulterated product.

2. Human food

Blueberries, spinach and other plant products have a long culinary history, which makes them suitable human and pet food ingredients, according to AAFCO. However, officials have decided that an extract, fraction or pomace derived from those ingredients may be materially different in composition, hence is no longer the same ingredient, Dzanis said.  

To allow for use of these plant-based pet food ingredients, new AAFCO definitions for each ingredient must be established. For example, AAFCO defined "(fruit) pomace" (AAFCO #60.112) to allow use of this by-product from human-edible fruit juice production. However, the only fruits allowed today under AAFCO definitions are apples and tomatoes. New definition petitions for other fruit and vegetable pomaces, such as those from pears, pomegranates or cranberries, must be submitted, or the pet food ingredients will remain objectionable to state feed control officials.

3. Insects

Officials decided that new AAFCO definitions would be needed for each insect and type of insect-based ingredient, such as flour, meal or protein concentrate. Additionally, the definitions would need to consider the species to which the insect-based ingredient would be fed. To date, only one insect, black solder fly larvae (AAFCO #T60.117) has been defined by AAFCO, and that is limited to use in salmonid feeds.

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