Here’s a quick update for everyone from AAFCO meetings…
We have here on our team – Dr. Jean Hofve, Dr. Judy Morgan, BC Henchen (pet store owner) and myself.
Yesterday was a workshop for companies wishing to introduce new ingredients into pet food/animal feed. During this workshop AAFCO (for the first time ever) allowed consumers to tell the attendees what consumers want from ingredients and pet food labels. I will provide all of my slides of that presentation when I get back home – but, basically the information I shared with them is that consumers WANT INFORMATION. Not marketing, they want information. What was shared with the crowd seemed to be very well received.
Today began the official meeting. In opening session – as typical – everyone stands and introduces themselves. It is always such an honor to stand and say my name and Association for Truth in Pet Food. After introductions the business at hand was to finalize some ingredient definitions. The first two of concern were “Dehydrated Alfalfa” and “Direct Dehydrated Alfalfa”. The legal definition for ‘Dehydrated Alfalfa’ voted on was: “Dehydrated Alfalfa is the aerial portion of the alfalfa plant, reasonably free of other crop plants, weeks and mold, which has been ground and dried by thermal means under controlled conditions. Its source shall consist of either suncured alfalfa hay that has been stored in bales or stacks; or suncured alfalfa hay that has been stored in bales or stacks that has been blended with fresh cut alfalfa.”
This ingredient did not pass – it will go back to the Ingredient Definitions Committee for re-working. My concern which I stated during this session was “it shall be reasonably free of mold”. I asked the committee what does ‘reasonably free of mold’ mean? They didn’t have an answer for me. No one knew or really cared. The ingredient did not pass – but not because of no defining of ‘reasonably free’ – it didn’t pass because it was a ‘mixed’ ingredient (includes dehydrated and fresh alfalfa) and the name didn’t adequately describe the product.
The second alfalfa ingredient – Direct Dehydrated Alfalfa – did pass, even though it also included the statement ‘reasonably free of mold’. I asked the committee – would you like your dinner tonight to be reasonably free of mold? No one responded (but there were audible grumbles).
Another ingredient definition I questioned was ‘Poultry’. The definition that did get approved is: “Poultry is the clean combination of flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from the clean parts of whole carcasses of slaughtered poultry or a combination thereof, exclusive of feathers, heads, feet, and viscera. If it bears a name descriptive if its kind, it must correspond thereto. If the bone has been removed, the process may be so designated by use of the appropriate feed term. It shall be suitable for use in animal food.”
My concern was ‘it shall be suitable for use in animal food’ – this statement means feed grade. I questioned with this statement in the definition of chicken or turkey (poultry) this seems to exclude human grade chicken or turkey for those pet foods that use human grade ingredients (and made in a human food plant). FDA is who responded assuring us that human grade would still fit under this definition.
During the next session, Dr. Xin Li of FDA did a presentation on FDA’s testing of raw pet food. This segment was about a 45 minute presentation (and I don’t believe there has ever been a presentation at AAFCO for testing of kibble foods for bacteria by FDA – I believe this is a first – will ask for confirmation on that).
Roxanne Stone of Answers Pet Food bravely stood and addressed the crowd asking why USDA allows some bacteria in raw meat and FDA has a zero tolerance for raw meat pet foods. The response was basically raw meat for humans (which is allowed to contain some bacteria) is meant to be cooked. I asked if FDA would release the tonnage amounts of raw pet foods recalled as compared to the tonnage amounts of kibble pet foods all recalled for Salmonella (or other dangerous bacteria) – FDA didn’t know. And by the way – the comparison is night and day. Tons and Tons more kibble pet foods have been recalled for Salmonella than raw pet food.
And Dr. Jean Hofve asked the best question thus far…she asked FDA if perhaps the issue FDA should be focused on is cleaning up meat. That didn’t go over well – no one responded specifically to her question. But – Dr. William Burkholder of FDA did stand and gave a ‘it’s like this’ statement that many foods contain bacteria – and its FDA’s job to protect consumers with all foods that contain bacteria. What I didn’t get the opportunity to say is…yes, but…the ONLY food that FDA has warned consumers about (regarding the dangers of bacteria) is raw meat pet food.
More meetings this afternoon – full day tomorrow. Will update you more when I can and full details once I return home.