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Human Grade, But Not for Raw Pet Food

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  1. Nina Wolf

    so how is the canned tuna, herring, steak tartar, etc handled then for humans? What regulates meat meant for raw consumption by humans?

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      The way we understand it – wow is it confusing – is USDA would regulate anything that contains more than 3% meat – BUT, there are exceptions to that. Such as a human food plant that manufactures a pet food. Some of those plants – human food plants – have both USDA and FDA inspection/certification. The catch is raw. FDA doesn’t acknowledge raw meat as a food…human edible. So they won’t get involved. USDA doesn’t govern the pet food, so they won’t get involved. The whole situation is caused because these two authorities won’t work together to certify a raw pet food as human grade.

      1. Sage

        This subject is confusing BUT it is fairly clear from the excellent way it’s explained in this post and directly above by Susan – as she has stated:

        “The catch is RAW. FDA doesn’t acknowledge raw meat as a food…human edible. So they won’t get involved.”

        Susan’s comment led me to wonder what about SUSHI grade fish?? It is sold as, and intended to be eaten RAW by HUMAN consumers. What agency certifies this before it arrives in the grocery or fish market??

    2. Sage

      Hi Nina – canned TUNA is actually heated (to the boiling point per one article I read) to kill any pathogens and thus making it safe for human consumption. So it is not actually Raw when you eat it.
      I assume that is the same with any canned meats. Steak Tartar is another matter though. When you buy steak to eat Raw as in Tartar, it would have been certified by USDA but I expect their assumption is that you would cook meats including steak and they of course cannot stop you from eating it raw as in Tartar.

  2. Jude from Maine

    Thank you for all your hard work and for always keeping us informed about the latest developments the pet food agencies. This latest one is a great one. It is such a shame that the FDA and USDA aren’t willing to work together for the good of everyone.

    When you talk about the State Department/AAFCO, I am assuming that this applies to the head of all US states. Am I correct?

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      Pet food is regulated on a federal law level by FDA, and on a state level by State Department of Agriculture. Both FDA and State Department of Agriculture are members of AAFCO and they work in cooperation with each other. Does that help?

  3. Mollie Morrissette

    My head hurt after that meeting.

    I’m so glad you were able to explain it to folks, because I wouldn’t have touched this one with a ten foot pole. I’m not sure I understood it all, and I was in on the call!

    What a kerfuffle.

    I did think that a few of the suggestions that were brought up during the webinar as a possible workaround to get raw (human-edible) pet food out of the regulatory gray zone sounded as though they might hold some promise.

    But, the main reason I’m commenting is, the group mentioned there will be a public meeting/webinar on this topic for the public (and stakeholders) to get in on the conversation:

    AAFCO Pet Food Committee Meeting Discussion on Human Grade Policy Webinar
    Please register for Pet Food Committee Meeting – Mar 17, 2016 8:00 AM PDT at:

    Topic: Discuss Human Grade Policy and other possible topics

    As Susan has said many, many times, small, independent pet food manufacturers need to get involved! Especially at this juncture as it involves human-edible pet food and human-edible raw pet food manufacturers.

    If they don’t get involved, it makes our job that much more difficult. Who better to offer insight into this problem than companies that are actually dealing with it.

    If those companies choose not get involved, they are missing a golden opportunity to be a part of the future of the pet food industry by having input in the way pet food is regulated.

    So, sign up and take part in the process – we need to hear your input if you’re a human-food grade pet food manufacturer. *nag* *nag*

    1. Mike

      The small ones DEFINITELY need to get involved. These are usually more of the good guys and are the ones usually leading pet food nutrition. They are often formed because their owners feel there is a void in the market they can fill to better our pets’ lives.

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