AAFCO approves new model and specialty pet food regulations

Changes to pet food and specialty pet food packaging will provide consistency and transparency.

Pet owners will soon find updated packaging and labels when shopping for pet food and specialty pet food products, including treats and supplements -- the first major update in more than 40 years. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) approved the new suggested labeling guidelines that include standardized nutrition information, clear ingredient statements, and storage and handling instructions. The modern design and updated information will ensure consistency and transparency, so consumers can easily make more informed buying decisions for their pets.

The passage of the revised Model Regulations for Pet Food and Specialty Pet Food sets a new standard for pet food manufacturers and distributors to follow. Feed regulatory professionals across the United States and Canada worked cooperatively with consumers and professionals within the pet food industry on a strategic course to ensure pet food labels provide a more comprehensive view of the product.

“The feedback we received from both consumers and industry advisors throughout this process was an important part of our collaboration to make improvements," said Austin Therrell, executive director of AAFCO. "We sought public comment to learn more about how pet food label changes would enhance transparency and provide clearer information in a consumer-friendly format. New packaging and labels will be well-defined and easy to understand. And that’s good news for all of us, from pet owners and manufacturers to pets themselves."

Major Label Changes

As states begin the rulemaking process of adopting and enforcing the Model Regulations for Pet Food and Specialty Pet Food, AAFCO recommends a transition period of six years for manufacturers to fully incorporate the label and packaging changes to their products. Pet owners will see some changes before that date, but all packaging should be consistent by the end of the six-year period. Below is a snapshot of what to expect from label updates in four key areas:

1.    Nutrition Facts Box – Updated to resemble human-food labeling more closely.

2.     Intended Use Statement – Updated to new location on the lower-third of the front display panel to help consumers easily identify the purpose of the pet food.

3.     Ingredient Statement – Updated to clarify the use of consistent terminology and allow parentheticals and common or usual names for vitamins.

4.     Handling and Storage Instructions (optional) – Updated and standardized with optional icons for greater consistency.

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