What to expect from AAFCO's mid-year meeting

Several committees, including the Pet Food Committee, are expected to provide updates and insights.

photo by gvictoria | bigstockphoto.com
photo by gvictoria | bigstockphoto.com

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) will hold its "mid-year" meeting on January 16–18, 2017, in Mobile, Alabama, USA. Although apt to change before the actual meeting, AAFCO has posted draft agendas for many of its committees (www.aafco.org). As always, there will be discussion and action on a number of items that affect the regulation of pet foods in the United States. 

Business meeting (general session)

This is where the AAFCO membership as a whole votes on items that have been previously approved by various committees. The detailed agenda for this upcoming meeting has not been posted. Looking back at potential items moving forward by committees at the annual meeting in August 2017, there may not be many pet food-related items from the Pet Food Committee or Model Bills and Regulations Committee in front of the full membership this time. However, the Ingredient Definitions Committee always has a number of items up for votes in the business meeting. It is expected that the definitions for bovine colostrum will be moved from tentative to official status. There will likely also be a vote on new definitions for "feed" and "animal food."   

Pet Food Committee

Although the reports of the working groups looking at claims related to dental health and carbohydrate content were accepted in August 2016, there still may be some procedural matters to resolve at the meeting before they can be moved up the ladder for final acceptance. The topic of human grade claims is still on the agenda, notwithstanding the fact that the definitions and guidelines to allow for the use of such claims on dog and cat food labels were passed by AAFCO in August 2016. A progress report from the Pet Food Label Modernization Working Group is expected. Details on the pending Pet Food Labeling Workshop (to be held in conjunction with the August 2017 annual meeting) will be announced. 

Model Bills and Regulations Committee

There is a placeholder on the agenda regarding revision of the definitions for "pet" and "specialty pet" as they appear in the Model Bill. This is to rectify some inconsistencies in language and clarify when the Model Regulations for Pet Food and Specialty Pet Food apply and when they do not (e.g., foods for wild canids and felids vs. domestic dogs and cats, pet vs. production meat rabbits). A working group should be bringing forth its recommendations for consideration by the committee.

Ingredient Definitions Committee

The draft agenda details a number of items, but none of them are specific to pet foods. The committee has been conducting between-meeting webinars to hash out details on some matters, so the discussion at the session in Alabama may be more efficient than in past years. There will be a report from a working group on options in publishing the list of GRAS (generally recognized as safe) substances that have received "no questions" letters from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) into the AAFCO Official Publication.

Feed and Feed ingredient Manufacturing Committee

The group working on revision of the "Official Guidelines for Contaminant Levels Permitted in Mineral Feed Ingredients" is expected to make its recommendations at the meeting. Current guidelines are based largely on the National Research Council (NRC)'s "Mineral Tolerance of Domestic Animals" as published in 1980. The working group is considering the more recent edition (2005) in updating the guidelines. While there is not a lot of information specifically on dogs and cats in the NRC publication, the AAFCO guidelines may affect maximum allowed levels of some minerals in pet foods, even where the AAFCO Dog and Cat Food Nutrient Profiles fail to establish maximum mineral inclusion rates in those foods. 

 

For more insights by Dr. Dzanis

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