But is it an AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials) update after all? Instead, smack dab on the AAFCO website Home Page are the words “Update on Organic Pet Foods” linked to the document titled “Protecting the Integrity of the Organic Pet Food Marketplace” that states “Prepared by Pet Food Institute”.
The AAFCO website states “A basic goal of AAFCO is to provide a mechanism for developing and implementing uniform and equitable laws, regulations, standards and enforcement policies for regulating the manufacture, distribution and sale of animal feeds; resulting in safe, effective, and useful feeds.” AAFCO is responsible for existing pet food regulations; everything from ingredient definitions to labeling standards. http://www.aafco.org
The Pet Food Institute on the other hand, is “the industry’s public education and media relations resource, representative before the U.S. Congress and state and federal agencies, organizer of seminars and educational programs, and liaison with other organizations.”
Over all, and simply put, AAFCO has the task to develop and enforce (on a State level) regulations to keep pet foods safe, the Pet Food Institute has the job of promoting and protecting pet foods (financial) interests. So, why would an organization that represents all of Big Pet Food have the opportunity by regulatory authorities to ‘protect the integrity of the Organic Pet Food Marketplace’? Shouldn’t that fall under the responsibilities of AAFCO?
The first sentence of the PFI document got my attention (and my alarm bells going off); “The Pet Food Institute (PFI) is actively cooperating with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program (NOP) to prevent any disruption to the growing market for organic pet food.” http://www.aafco.org/Portals/0/Public/organic_pet_food_update_aug_2010.pdf
‘Actively cooperating’? Turns out, the Pet Food Institute (a representative of) is actually running the Organic Pet Food Task Force for the USDA. “The National Organic Standards Board recommended in October 2004 that a Task Force be formed to develop labeling standards for organic pet food. A Federal Register notice was posted on January 24, 2005 to solicit nominations, and the Pet Food Task Force was selected by NOP in May 2005. The Task Force includes individuals experienced in organic and conventional pet food manufacture, consultants with organic expertise, as well as state and federal regulatory authorities.”
Organic Pet Food Task Force Chair…Nancy Cook, Vice President at Pet Food Institute.
It continues to be a concern when regulatory authority is provided to industry. The fox guarding the hen house. The USDA and FDA is simply asking for trouble when industry develops their own regulations. At the very least, any such task force committee should be a 50/50 split; represented by 50 percent industry experts and 50 percent non-industry (non pet food in this case) experts.
To read the 2008 Organic Pet Food Standards Recommendations, visit http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5074516
To read the AAFCO (PFI) Organic Pet Food Update, visit http://www.aafco.org/Portals/0/Public/organic_pet_food_update_aug_2010.pdf
We’ll have to keep a close eye on the Organic Pet Food Task Force, and regulations or changes in regulations down the road. Let us hope that Big Industry does not step in and destroy organic pet food in the meantime.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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