What’s coming in 2022 from AAFCO’s Pet Food Committee?

Learn about the latest results of AAFCO’s 2022 mid-year meeting, including pet food labeling modernization and human-grade guidelines in pet food.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-30,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y
Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-30,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y
The discussion around pet food labeling modernization continues forward as AAFCO continues to gather information. | Andrea Gantz | WATT Global Media

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) 2022 Midyear Meeting in January touched on many important topics that affect pet food manufacturers and agricultural science professionals. Specifically, AAFCO’s Pet Food Committee (PFC) discussed priorities and a timeline for issues that will be researched in 2022 for possible modifications and improvements down the road.  

The following is an update on the matters that pertain to industry safety and to changes that are directed toward consumers.

Pet Food Labeling Modernization (PFLM)

In response to consumer requests, work and research continue to clarify the need and design for a new pet food nutrition label that looks more like the human-food labels. With a focus on changes to labeling with respect to nutritional adequacy, safe handling of pet foods, the ingredient list and feeding directions, the PFC is responding to comments and gathering additional responses to determine 1) adequacy using a graphic vs. a statement to identify the type of product, and 2) nutrition box content and design. With so many shifts, it is important for consumers to clearly understand labels — and to understand why these labels are changing.

One-on-one interviews with consumers are taking place this month (March 2022), followed by discussions with regulators. A comprehensive review process will assess the collective feedback which will clarify next steps. In May 2022, the PFC will share the findings and request additional comments from the industry.

Then at the AAFCO Annual Meeting in August 2022, the PFC will share an update with feedback and have members vote on any changes. A final decision will be made at this time, and plan and tentative timeline will be shared so manufacturers have ample time to transition their labels.

To learn more about PFLM and next steps, a free webinar series will take place later this spring. Registration will be available at aafco.org and open to interested participants. 

Changes and updates will also be included on the AAFCO Talks Pet Food website, an excellent resource for all communication. In fact, AAFCO Talks is being revamped, and website visitors will soon notice that it’s even more user friendly with timely information. 

Copper levels

AAFCO has formed a work group — including manufacturers, regulators, veterinarians and other industry members — to explore the maximum copper levels in dog food. The group determined that ongoing research is still needed before a recommendation can be made on whether revised copper levels need to be considered.

Human-grade guidelines

There have been “human-grade” claims on some pet foods for a few years. Extremely few pet food products could be considered officially human edible or human-grade.

AAFCO and the PFC are finetuning the language for consistency with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Guidelines will be updated to define what manufacturers need to do to make that claim. AAFCO is also working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on an audit for other items that might need clarification.

The PFC recently voted to accept the revised Human Grade Guidelines and present the revised Human Grade Guidelines to the AAFCO Board with a recommendation to accept. This moves the revised Human Grade Guidelines to the membership for a vote in August 2022; if the vote is successful, the revised Human Grade Guidelines would take effect at that time.


Briefly: top 5 takeaways

  1. In response to consumer requests, work and research continue to clarify the need and design for a new pet food nutrition label that looks more like the human-food labels. 
  2. At the 2022 AAFCO Annual Meeting, the Pet Food Committee will share an update on the pet food labeling modernization work with feedback and have members vote on any changes. A final decision will be made at this time.
  3. AAFCO has formed a work group — including manufacturers, regulators, veterinarians and other industry members — to explore the maximum copper levels in dog food.
  4. AAFCO and the Pet Food Committee are finetuning the language of “human-grade” pet food for consistency with the U.S. FDA.
  5. The Committee recently voted to accept the revised Human Grade Guidelines and present the revised Guidelines to the AAFCO Board with a recommendation to accept.

Staying informed

Check for updates on key issues by visiting aafco.org. Meeting notes, FAQs and fact sheets are also posted for sharing. There are also opportunities to share comments and concerns to [email protected], to help guide AAFCO’s focus areas and priorities. 

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