AAFCO meetings are not fun – always a chore – and always surprising to me. Greed is always in the air at these meetings – and this one excels in greed.
The opening session of AAFCO meetings is my favorite part. Introductions of AAFCO members – and then everyone in attendance stands, states their name and their company affiliation. I take great pride each meeting to stand, state my name – then proudly say ‘Association for Truth in Pet Food’. To let everyone know that consumers are here and watching them – this is the best part.
Much of day one was just business as usual – finalizing bits and pieces of regulation that may or may not be accepted as law in any state. Things that have been worked on for years perhaps – finally making it into the ‘books’.
The Ingredient Definitions committee meeting was in the afternoon. An FDA representative present (who is typically at all AAFCO meetings) made a very serious point to the crowd (mostly industry); ingredients that manufacturers currently use need to be #1 safe to feed the species intended; and #2 must go through the proper channels of approval first – either through the AAFCO process or the FDA process. This was not well received by most of the crowd.
One of the ingredients discussed was a biodiesel fuel leftover of mustard meal. Industry representatives argued that this was the very same ingredient that was already approved. FDA argued back – that a mustard plant grown specifically for a condiment (mustard) was a completely different plant than mustard plant grown specifically for biodiesel fuel. The biodiesel plant could harm animals. Industry didn’t care – they just wanted a quick approval for their leftover biodiesel fuel mustard meal. FDA didn’t budge (I was thrilled). FDA told the crowd that the biodiesel industry needs to be certain that ingredients they are selling to animal feed industry are safe – that some of these products (leftovers from the production of biodiesel fuel) can leave residues in animal tissues (potential to harm humans consuming the meat or of course pets). The crowd groaned.
Later in the meeting was a discussion concerning what is called the “MOU” or Memorandum of Understanding. This is an agreement – legal agreement – between AAFCO and FDA that provides AAFCO with the ability to define pet food/animal feed ingredients. The MOU is about to expire and a new agreement needs to be arranged between AAFCO and FDA. And in this discussion, I witnessed more greed than I’ve ever seen at AAFCO meetings before.
AAFCO had asked several representatives of industry to assist in writing the new MOU agreement to present to FDA. In their continuous battle to make more money more quickly, the new MOU was proposed to contain verbiage to give FDA a deadline to approve new ingredient definitions. Industry wanted approval within 180 days. Several AAFCO members spoke out that perhaps putting time constraints on FDA was not a good thing. Questions were asked of FDA as to why ingredients couldn’t get approved within this time frame. FDA responded that they don’t have the funding…manpower to thoroughly investigate the safety of each ingredient within this time constraint. Now brace yourself…it was actually asked if industry could provide FDA with ‘help’ – to boost those resources (in other words money) to make these approvals happen faster. Someone said – “it should be if they don’t approve an ingredient within 180 days it is automatically approved”. The entire room applauded.
I sat there thinking…you big bunch of greedy babies. They were all complaining they couldn’t get approval for their waste ingredient garbage fast enough to make more money. They complained having to go through proper channels – they just wanted to quickly sell their trash to animal foods. Get in – make money – get out.
I wished for them to walk in a pet food consumer’s shoes for a few days. Wait for action to be taken on their behalf? They don’t have a clue what it is to wait. Walk in our shoes for a few days, weeks, months.
It was – to date – the most open display of greed I have witnessed at these meetings before. I was very proud of FDA for standing their ground – it couldn’t have been easy to do this. One FDA representative against a crowd of greedy individuals – whose only concern was money. I wanted to speak out – but to be honest with everyone, I was afraid of doing so. After the last meeting when I was verbally attacked and three others were verbally attacked after speaking out against an ingredient that was approved – I was honestly afraid people would start throwing things at me. I had a private meeting with the AAFCO president just after this open meeting – and I decided it was safer for me to speak my ‘greed’ concerns with him directly than in this open meeting.
I did share my ‘greed’ concerns with the AAFCO president and chair of the pet food committee – and addressed with them the concern that AAFCO seems to – at times – be right along side of greedy industry. Almost working to help them obtain their approvals. I also provided them with 17 pages of comments from consumers – and much to my surprise they were very interested in your comments. They asked for a digital copy of these comments – and they will be posted on the back side (member side) of the AAFCO website for every member (State Department of Agriculture folks) to read (I will provide them with this when I return home). That is good. They don’t have to agree with everything we say – but it is good for them to hear us.
Tomorrow is the pet food committee meeting. Then – thank goodness – I get to go home. I will provide everyone a report on this meeting and more information from this meeting once I return home. I thank all of you for your support to get me here – without all of you, this wouldn’t happen.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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