The Strange and Unusual of California Pet Food Law
Almost every state has laws specific to pet food, but California has some…interesting (downright absurd) laws. Here are some of the strange and unusual pet food laws in California.
Pet food is (supposed to be) regulated by federal law and state law. Federal law is the ultimate authority, but each state has their own laws specific to pet food/animal feed. Although the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) formed more than 100 years ago with the goal of consistency of state feed law, every state is a little different.
California has some unique and interesting pet food law. Under Article 16 Processed Pet Food Regulations we find…
(d) No product or any of its wrappers, packaging or other containers shall bear any false or misleading marking, label or other labeling, and no statement, word, picture, design, or device which gives a false indication of origin, quality or flavor.
This law is a bit different than federal law or AAFCO regulation, it is more specific. ‘No pet food packaging shall bear a picture which gives a false indication of quality.’ But in every grocery, Big Box retail, and Big Box pet store in California are pet foods with labels like this…
Right there – and right on many pet food labels – are indeed pictures that give a “false indication of quality”. Misleading consumers. Having a very specific law does California pet food consumers no good…when the law is not enforced.
Another law in California under the same category (Labeling and Restrictions) is…(bold added)…
(f) A processed pet food shall not be labeled a specific flavor unless a sufficient amount of that ingredient is used to impart such characteristic flavor and/or odor to the finished product which is detectable by a recognized test method, or is one the presence of which provides a characteristic distinguishable by the pet.
California law explicitly states that a pet food shall not be labeled as a specific flavor unless it provides “a characteristic distinguishable by the pet.” Interesting. No…actually it is absurd. Perhaps law makers in California over-indulged in adult beverages the day this law was written. Or perhaps California lawmakers wanted to help promote other California businesses – such as the California Psychic Network (pet owners could consult with psychics to determine if their pet really did taste chicken in that chicken flavored pet food).
Under the category of 19030. Manufacturing Requirements, California pet food law states…
(b) All stomachs, intestines, and/or other such by-products, which are used in the manufacture of processed pet food, shall be thoroughly washed and inspected for fecal or foreign contamination.
So, per California law, by-products that include animal intestines or animal stomachs have to be “thoroughly washed” and “inspected for fecal or foreign contamination”. But…the law stops short of requiring that animal intestines or animal stomachs be completely free from fecal or foreign contamination. Just wash them and inspect them – that’s it. Nice job California.
And under the category of 19035. Magnet to Remove Ferrous Material, California pet food law states…
(a) All pet food processors are hereby required to install between the cooker and the filling machine a magnetic separator with a holding power of not less than 125 pounds per square inch to remove ferrous material. The magnetic exposure area shall be not less than 6 inches by 10 inches.
The magnet requirement to remove metal objects from pet food ingredients is actually a very common thing. I’ve been told that most pet food manufacturers clean the magnet at least once a day (most often once a shift). Metal object contamination of ingredients is very common in pet food. But again, California law stops short of requiring pet food manufacturers to remove ALL ‘ferrous material’. Just have a magnet, that’s it.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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