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The Role of AAFCO in Pet Food Regulation

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has been around since September 1906.

 

AAFCO’s longstanding purpose has been to serve as a venue for feed regulators to explore the problems encountered in administering feed laws; to develop just and equitable standards, definitions and policies for the enforcement of feed laws; and to promote uniformity in laws, regulations and enforcement policies. AAFCO has created a large number of models providing guidance, definitions, terms and best-management practices in addition to the Model Bill and Model Feed Regulations (including Model Pet Food Regulations).

 

Membership is limited to employees of state, dominion or other governmental agencies of North America who enforce animal-feed regulations, including those for pet food. The state departments of agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Costa Rica and Puerto Rico are all AAFCO members. Each AAFCO member gets one vote for any particular issue.

 

Although individual AAFCO members have the authority to regulate animal feed within their jurisdictions, AAFCO itself has no regulatory authority whatsoever.

 

There is a real need for decision makers to have uniform, practical, objective, and competent technical input to create fair and equitable laws and regulations. AAFCO promotes uniform feed laws and regulations.

 

Typically, AAFCO members meet to establish and refine these models for animal feed and pet food. Then members can share the models with their legislative and rulemaking bodies for incorporation into laws and rules.

 

Political, financial and cultural differences between governing bodies account for the varying nature and scope of feed and pet food regulatory programs. Notwithstanding the differences between jurisdictions, the majority of states have adopted the AAFCO Model Pet food Regulations in some form. It would be infeasible for a company to distribute pet food in multiple states without meeting the standards in the AAFCO Model Pet food Regulations.

 

The Relationship Between FDA and AAFCO

The FDA is a voting member of AAFCO and participates in AAFCO meetings, seminars and training sessions to assist state feed regulators and consider shared feed issues.

 

The FDA plays a vital role in many of AAFCO’s standardization activities. For instance, the FDA brings expertise and judgment in establishing the safe and effective use of ingredients defined by AAFCO. Submitted ingredient definitions are not put up for a vote unless the proposed definition meets the standards of the AAFCO ingredient definition process—including an FDA safety review.

 

The AAFCO Model Bill, which most states have adopted as law, includes adulteration definitions the FDA enforces. (The FDA definition of adulteration applies to food for humans and animals while the AAFCO version applies strictly to animal feed.)

 

The FDA Animal and Veterinary website refers to many more activities in which the FDA and AAFCO share interests.

 

Consumer and Industry Involvement

“The most important aspect of feed regulation is to provide protection for the consumer as well as the regulated industry. A major function of feed regulations is to safeguard the health of man and animals. Another important function of feed regulation is to provide a structure for orderly commerce.”

 - Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) Official Publication

 

Anyone can register for and attend an AAFCO midyear or annual meeting.

 

Interested parties representing wider organizations can apply to be selected as non-voting AAFCO committee advisors. Non-voting committee advisors identify issues and interests potentially affected by regulations based on the AAFCO Models.

 

Although AAFCO promotes the inclusion of consumer advocates as committee advisors, industry representatives still far outnumber consumer advocates. Consumers who wish to become advocates should contact:  AAFCO Headquarters by phone at 217-356-4221 or by email at aafco@aafco.org