The next AAFCO occurs in less than 2 weeks with multiple issues on the agenda that could be a concern in pet food.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) – the corporate organization that writes the laws governing pet food – will hold their next public meeting in Savannah, GA January 21 through January 23, 2019. It is ‘public’ – anyone is welcome to attend…for a fee of $500.
The two sessions that are of significance to pet owners are the Pet Food Committee meeting and the Ingredient Definitions Committee meeting.
The Ingredient Definitions Committee meeting – in two sessions – will take place on Tuesday January 22, 2019 beginning at 10:30 AM ET and Wednesday January 23, 2019 beginning at 8:00 AM ET. Pet owners can view or listen to the meeting free of charge – details to view or call in are found at the top of the meeting Agenda page. Click Here for details of the Tuesday session, Click Here for details of the Wednesday session.
While it can be interesting (or incredibly painful) to listen to all the topics discussed at AAFCO, the topics discussed in the Ingredient Definitions Committee meeting on Tuesday January 23 significant to pet owners are:
- revising the term “canned”.
- update on AAFCO work to distinguish between the pet food ingredients Buffalo and Bison (Bison is the American Buffalo – Buffalo is Water Buffalo often sourced from India. Some pet food manufacturers have been using Water Buffalo from India alluding to pet owners the ingredient is the American Buffalo sourced from US).
- define the term “treat”.
- discussion of “Vitamin common names” – unknown if there are changes in mind to currently used Vitamin names on labels.
And though we have no idea what will be discussed (or if FDA will be able to attend due to the government shut down), FDA has asked the Ingredient Definitions Committee for time on two topics of discussion. It is unknown what FDA intends to share with AAFCO attendees.
In the second session of the AAFCO Ingredient Definitions Committee – Wednesday January 23 at 8 AM ET – a discussion will finally happen that should have taken place decades ago. AAFCO – who requires every term to have a definition – has never defined the term “slaughter” even though the term is used in many other legal definitions of pet food ingredients.
As example – from the minutes of the 2015 Ingredient Definitions meeting – here is the legal definition of Poultry (such as Chicken) in pet food:
“Poultry is the clean combination of flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from the parts of whole carcasses of slaughtered poultry, or a combination thereof, exclusive of feathers, heads, feet and viscera. If it bears a name descriptive of 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.“
Because – for decades – AAFCO never defined the word “slaughter”, there was no legal clarity to what the definition of Poultry or Chicken meant. Some considered ‘slaughter’ to mean only poultry killed for consumption at a USDA facility. Others considered ‘slaughter’ to mean the horrific system industry uses to rid themselves of spent laying hens (hens no longer able to lay eggs) – by macerator (think the worse – but if you want to learn more, Click Here).
What will be interesting in this AAFCO discussion to finally define “slaughter” is if AAFCO will follow federal law with their definition (they don’t in many cases) of if they will define this important term their own way (opposing federal law). Federal law is very detailed in their definition of slaughter – defined in two laws; the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act and the Poultry Products Inspection Act. Will AAFCO allow macerator killed poultry into their definition of slaughter? (to please industry) – or will AAFCO abide by federal law? Time will tell.
The Pet Food Committee meeting will take place on Tuesday January 22, 2019 from 3:00 to 5:00 PM ET (information to view online or listen to the meeting via phone is provided at the top of the agenda page). Of most significance is a discussion from FDA (again, only if the government shut down ends and FDA is able to attend) regarding “Reviewing AAFCO Feeding Protocols (to account for growth of large size dogs)“.
Current regulations of “feeding protocols” (feeding directions) allow arbitrary amounts to be stated on pet food labels. In other words, pet food manufacturers are allowed to state any amount they want as recommended feeding. Considering that nutrition should be provided as “complete and balanced” (all required nutrients are provided in the proper amounts) – feeding directions are significantly important and should legally be tied to proper nutrients received by the pet.
The Pet Food Committee will discuss (again) the Human Grade claim. There has been effort by some in industry to lower the human grade legal standard. This is a topic we will follow closely.
There will be a discussion on prescription pet foods. And AAFCO will waste more time on their “Pet Food Label Modernization” effort which is little more than how to give pet owners the exact same information on the label they get now in a prettier way.
Myself and our official representative at AAFCO (since they kicked me out) Mr. BC Henschen will be there speaking out for pet owners. And we have several pet owners attending with us this meeting. Please view the meeting online or listen if you can. And as always details of what happened will be shared after the meeting is over (and I’m back home).
By the way – it is ONLY because of pet owner support that we can afford to attend these meetings. Thank you to all!
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
Become a member of our pet food consumer Association. Association for Truth in Pet Food is a a stakeholder organization representing the voice of pet food consumers at AAFCO and with FDA. Your membership helps representatives attend meetings and voice consumer concerns with regulatory authorities. Click Here to learn more.
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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The 2019 List
Susan’s List of trusted pet foods. Click Here to learn more.
Have you read Buyer Beware? Click Here
Cooking pet food made easy, Dinner PAWsible
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