Pet Food Regulations

Day 3 AAFCO Meetings July 2014

The Pet Food Committee was Day Three – and another fun day it was.

During the Pet Food Committee session (last session of the event) we again discussed the long awaited updated nutrient profiles for cats and dogs. And again there is a hold on the updated nutrient profiles. The hold was because there was not established a “delayed implementation” process for manufacturers (in other words a statement to allow them probably years to implement the new nutrient profiles in their pet foods). Dr. Chavez (Just Food for Dogs) stood up and asked AAFCO to please move this process along – he shared veterinarians have been waiting for these updated nutritional profiles for seven years. The committee told him/everyone – they take their time with this because they want “everybody to be happy”. But actually – the only people ‘happy’ about a delay in updated nutrient profiles are manufacturers who have to change their formulas (cost them money) to abide by new regulations.

Most of this meeting was actually just going over old business – discussing the new AAFCO website – and then we got to touch on tartar claims for treats and foods. AAFCO said they wanted to update the regulations to make sure these products didn’t mislead the consumer. No one besides AAFCO representatives had seen a preview of the new tartar claims they were presenting us (typically AAFCO will release a preview of material to be discussed to committee members prior to meeting). Everything read good (can’t quote it for you because they did not provide us with the copy) except – and this is a big except – a section of the proposed regulations would state “enforcement would be a low priority”.

When it was asked if anyone had any statement to share – I told the committee that statement – “enforcement would be a low priority” is an open door to manufacturers to continue to mislead consumers. It felt like an eternity – not a sole responded – cricket, cricket, cricket. And then the committee chair asked “Can you explain?” (Are you kidding me?) Me: Yes – this statement is telling industry here are the rules but don’t worry we are not going to enforce them because “enforcement would be a low priority” – say what ever you want about your tartar claims. They insisted this was not their intent. I shared – then remove the line about ‘enforcement being low priority’. They looked at me dumbfounded. I returned the look.

It is difficult enough to deal with these types of potential regulations, but it magnifies the problem ten fold when authorities honestly can’t see the concern for consumers. They have ignored the best interests of pets and pet food consumers for so long, they honestly believe what they are doing IS in the best interest of consumers. It is dumbfounding.

The issue got ‘tabled’ which means lucky us it will be discussed again at the next meeting in January. More fun to look forward to.

And speaking of fun…much to my surprise, the Pet Food Committee chair (Jan Jarmon) told the crowd that “Susan Thixton and Jean Hofve have let us know AAFCO needs to do more to connect with consumers.” So she asked if anyone knew of any other consumer groups AAFCO can “invite” to participate in the process. So…are there any consumer groups out there who want to experience pet food regulatory fun twice a year? AAFCO says they want you.

It is an honor for me to represent you – but I’m REALLY looking forward to being home with my family (two and four legged!). Give me a few days to recover – and then we’ve got some big planning to do! Thanks to all of you for your words of support! And thank you to Jersey Jackson for your friendship and support here in Sacramento!


Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
Association for Truth in Pet Food

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July 27, 2014

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30 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Day 3 AAFCO Meetings July 2014”

  1. Tom Fitch says:

    Excellent job, Susan! I very much appreciate what you do…and so do my dogs.

  2. Leandra Little says:

    I echo Tom Fitch’s statement. Thank you Susan, your advocacy is so important and appreciated.

  3. Thomas N Reedy says:

    Good job Susan, and godspeed getting back home for well-deserved R & R (reprogramming & refueling). Meetings such as those that you just went through are a pathetic joke–laughable, but not funny (at least to those of us and you who actually take pet food/feed nutrition and safety seriously).

  4. Susan~the only good thing I can see is that for once, you were not alone. If I didn’t ‘know’ you..these reports would be unbelievable ~~~ how many morons can be in one organization~? Do you feel your brain cells being sucked out when you enter the room~? You need some black tourmaline ~ or reiki protection ideas next time you enter a room like that. These people are leaving ‘inept’ and approaching ‘evil’. Thanks so much for all you do..all the time you invest for our dogs.

  5. Terri says:

    Thank you for all your hard work, Susan! We really do appreciate you and we and our pets are lucky to have you on our side!

  6. Annie says:

    Thank you Susan. You are so good to confront them in their den.

  7. Ellie says:

    It almost sounds like these meetings are held as a formality rather than to actually accomplish something. They appear to have no intention of improving the quality of pet food but rather to work with the pet food manufacturers in order to keep them “happy” by continuing the policies of the past.
    It must take a huge amount of self control to sit there and watch such behavior while continuing to act as through they are seriously accomplishing something..
    Keeping “everyone happy” will never accomplish the goal of improving the quality of pet food or anything else for that matter.

  8. Ann * says:

    Please clarify for me just who funds AAFCO. They are clearly working to obstruct progress in improving pet food for the consumer.
    I don’t believe that any of these people are “morons” or “honestly believe what they are doing IS in the best interest of consumers.” This is all too orchestrated and designed to accomplish nothing and to waste your time and money in showing up. I have been involved in such groups in the past and the “real” conversations occur between them over the telephone, via emails, and privately.

    • Susan Thixton says:

      AAFCO is an independent corporation – it is not a government agency, though members consist of government employees (State government). As far as funding…they are not a non-profit so they do not disclose their tax returns on their website. We are left to guess where funding is obtained. I do know some funding is acquired through meetings (at $400 a person – about 400 people per meeting) and through sales of the AAFCO Official Publication (at more than $100 each year – probably thousands sold each year).

  9. Joe says:

    First of all let me say how inappropriate your comments about Jon Nelson were. You are not a consumer advocate but a consumer bully. As far as education what makes you qualified Susan? You routinely make ridiculous comments about AAFCO and the state agencies. For the others on here you are allowing yourselves to see one side of the story.

    • Susan Thixton says:

      I disagree Joe. Actually my comments about Mr. Nelson were much kinder than the actual situation was. What I neglected to share with consumers is that Mr. Nelson also shook his finger in my face and told me (and I’m quoting): “You need to keep your mouth shut until you know what you are talking about!” He also got in the face of Dr. Alinovi, Roxanne Stone and Dr. Chavez. As far as my credentials – my education – I don’t have letters behind my name. Instead I consult with numerous that do. Such as animal feed forensic scientists, veterinary nutritionists, practicing veterinarians, toxicologists, veterinary university professors and…educated pet food consumers. I do routinely make comments about AAFCO and state agencies that prove the ridiculousness of the situation for consumers – and since I assume you have close ties with AAFCO, state agencies and Mr. Nelson (perhaps AFIA? or PFI?) I can understand how you would perceive what consumers are complaining about to be ‘ridiculous’. After all, we are interfering with your profits aren’t we? Sorry Joe (could you not think of a better alias name than Joe?) – sorry we consumers ruin your AAFCO meeting. Our intentions are not to be bullies – our intentions are to protect our pets.

    • Lonnie says:

      Joe, let me say to you …. you don’t need any special training or schooling to recognize good from bad.
      We consumers are educated and we are FED UP with the pet food industry’s blatant disregard to pets health and AAFCO’s impotent enforcement efforts.

      btw, calling Susan a “consumer bully” is credit and compliment to her efforts.
      She is the only voice we have – we love her for it!

    • Kelley says:

      Firstly, check the grammar syntax of the comment. If a “consumer advocate” advocates for consumers then a “consumer bully” bullies consumers! Secondly, what professional or corporate meeting have you attended lately where a participant is allowed to physically and verbally intimidate (insult) another member? Doesn’t say much about the organization does it? I can tell you where I worked in a Fortune 100 company for 35 years not only would security have been called immediately, but membership or employment could’ve been terminated. Harassment in any form was not tolerated. Because it is also illegal. But your reaction seems to say that “just” because Susan is a consumer and an advocate and a volunteer, which happens to be in a field of accumulated on-the-job knowledge and experience, that she has positioned herself for negative treatment.

      Here’s a tip, when a discovery-based effort (which is usually the point of a meeting of sane people) sinks to the lowest common denominator amongst “personalities” then the most valuable kind of progress is thwarted. Meaning open and constructive exchange is shut-down which makes Jon’s behavior intentional. The question could’ve been asked once, calmly, professionally for an earnest response. So if these members can’t conduct themselves in a dispassionate, appropriately non-personal and detached manner then what’s the purpose of over reacting? Rational thinking people aiming for goals (even if a personal agenda) welcome input, involvement and are inclusive because they have enough confidence in their own intentions to begin with. They do not ~need~ to emotionally explode. Unfortunately what “Jon” revealed was a HUGE amount of “ego-interruptus” the same personality type to “bully” service workers at the very hint of the slightest “blip.” We’ve all met ‘em!

      In fact I think “Jon” could’ve been honest enough …to respond as himself.

      • Christine says:

        Thank you Susan for your hard work and for remaining professional in these situations.
        Thank you Kelley for your well worded comment about standards of professionalism in a business setting – I was thinking the same thing that this sort of emotional (and certainly ineffective) confrontation shouldn’t be tolerated. I also wonder, in a professional meeting, would anyone have ever told a man that he must have poor nutrition because his hair looks dull? It’s not only unprofessional, but frankly sounds sexist.
        I’m glad you’ve been able to bring more people with you (with letters after their names) to lend credibility and back up your already very valid points in that very challenging setting

    • Annette says:

      And YOU, dear Joe, are simply a shill for the industry. Thank you Susan for giving us pet owners a voice!!!

    • Mike L says:

      Hey Joe, where are you going with that opportunity in your hand?

      Seriously, your comments imply that you have information that would set us all straight so, Joe, why not step up to the plate and share? Pick a couple of points and start there or, if you prefer, select a few specific ” ridiculous comments about AAFCO and the state agencies” and clearly explain in which ways they are ridiculous.

      No need to out yourself here Joe. Nobody here needs to know who you are in real life. Just maybe consider doing the right thing .. the moral thing ..the helpful thing .. the respectful thing and set us straight. Aren’t we worth it? Isn’t it worth some of your time and energy to help educate us?

      I suspect that your post isn’t simply a drive-by event for you. I mean, how could you know about the ” ridiculous comments about AAFCO and the state agencies” and Ms. Thixtons lack of qualification if you’ve not made the time to read a substantial portion, if not all, of her posts here? So Joe, I’m not baiting you nor am I insulting you. I am challenging you to put a bit of effort into educating us some. You’ve come this far so why not be more than some cranky sounding know-it-all and become an active helpful part of the discussion? Share some of the other side of the story. Back up your accusations and assist us all at the same time. It’s a win – win for you.

      Unless you’re just another troll, I look forward to your input,
      Mike L

    • Mike L says:

      Ah Joe .. what a disappointment you are. Here you have the opportunity to make an impact, to educate and elucidate but no, no you’re happy just to whine and make false accusations. False because you don’t back them up. How very dim and boring of you. ‘Course you could prove me wrong but .. naaahhh .. you won’t bother even though you are following these replies and obviously read this entire blog site.

      Posting inflammatory replies on a site without putting a little effort in to helping make things better is just simple trolling. Yaawwnnnn….

      A REAL scientist/educator/professional etc .. would back up her/his statements with data/info. So, back undo the bridge, troll. You’re just a waste of time.

  10. Laura says:

    Oh please, for all that is holy, do NOT let PETA, the HSUS, the ASPCA, Best Friends, Maddie’s Fund, the Mayor’s Alliance, or any other similar organization within miles of these conferences or anything having to do with reforming the pet food industry. They will ruin everything, and I think my heart will officially break.

  11. Joan Johnston says:

    Thank you for taking all this abuse for the critters. It can’t be easy.

  12. Jill says:

    I am just curious. Do the people at these AAFCO meetings have pets? Do they care about them as we do or are pets just something to own not of any real value? Don’t they care about these dogs and cats that are suffering, some more than others. If the food that goes into pet food is of human grade cuts of meat and vegetables would they be willing to have it on their table?

    • Susan Thixton says:

      I honestly believe they don’t think they are hurting pets. They don’t think quality – they think/firmly believe that rendered diseased animals is safe for our pets to consume. Quality isn’t part of the picture they consider. If it meets numbers – (protein, fat, fiber, moisture – no matter the source) – they are fine with it. When any of us are passionate about the quality issue – they consider us to be emotional. And they have said (during meetings) we’ve got to leave the emotions out of it. I’ve asked them many, many times to invite consumers to the meetings (for free) – sit down across the table from them and actually listen. So far – that hasn’t happened. Very unfortunate.

  13. terri janson says:

    Thank you once again, Susan for standing up for our fur babies!! Bravo!
    oh, and shut up Joe!

  14. Catherine says:

    Joe, errr…I mean, Mrs Nelson, Mr Nelson was being the bully. It is a typical tu quoque attack ( look it up on to turn an argument around when someone has the same failing. Mr Nelson has no more credentials to speak on nutrition than Ms Thixson, if we are solely looking for initials after a name. If we are to concede that there are other ways to acquire knowledge, then both parties are equal. Mr Nelson did not want that to occur, so he resorted to bullying, which you are now also doing “Joe.”

  15. Sheila says:

    If most people who own pets knew what went into most pet food, they would never buy it again. People think of their pets as part of their family. And no one would feed this horrible food to their family.

    Education is definitely part of the key here. Once consumers keep putting pressure on companies and regulators, things will change.

    Keep going Susan. Your efforts are appreciated, even all the way over here in the UK. 🙂

  16. Sandra says:

    Hey there Susan- get yourself some well deserved relaxation in. And thank you from me and my little Doxie Moco, who just turned 7 years of age yesterday. 🙂

    There are so many of us that are passionate about changing the enforcement of the regulations already in place as well as adding some new changes- like labeling whether or not the “source” of a particular meat item comes from 4D, and also doing away with “meat” and “meat meal” as acceptable ingredients (i.e. say “chicken” or “chicken meal,” not just “meat” or “meat meal”).

    Also, I appreciate your acknowledgement of this movement being akin to the GMO-labeling argument. You’re our best and only advocate and you’re taking on the BIG guys all on your own- for us. We’re VERY appreciative of your efforts.

  17. Thank you Susan, for all your hard work in attending these meetings to speak up for pet food consumers… what the AAFCO and all the pet food manufacturers need to understand is that pet owners will stop buying commercial pet food if they can not trust the industry… humans kept pets long before commercial pet food was invented, and if commercial pet food manufacturers can not keep (gain? regain?) the trust of consumers they won’t have any buyers for their products. Your advocacy work on behalf of consumers is good for the pet food industry, but sadly, they fail to realize that. As pet owners, we greatly appreciate all the work you do tho’! Thanks again Susan

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Susan Thixton, Dr. Cathy Alinovi, Mollie Morrissette and Dr. Jean Hofve.

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Susan Thixton's author is a founding partner of the international pet food consumer association - Association for Truth in Pet Food. Through our consumer association, Susan has advisory position to AAFCO's Pet Food Committee and Ingredient Definitions Committee.