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The HUGE Difference Between FDA and USDA Pet Food Definitions

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  1. Paula

    Susan, I got an e-mail today from the FDA re “FDA working to address concerns about regulation of human food by-products used for animal food.” Wondering what the implications are. I tried to cut and paste from it but that doesn’t work. Not sure if you got it or if there is a way I can send it to you. Sounds like food companies want less regulation of safety procedures (what else is new).

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      Yes – I got the same email. That email was about the Food Safety Modernization Act manufacturing requirements (manufacturing requirements of ingredients) – allowing anyone to provide comment to these regulations (industry and consumers). That is exactly what we are not provided in the pet food ingredient definition and regulation process; the opportunity to provide comment on each ingredient definition.

  2. Kathryn

    I doubt ‘we’ will ever see FDA/AAFCO become transparent — I prepare my pets meals from food sourced at local grocery stores, farmers markets and meat markets … I do ‘basically’ trust USDA to assure that the products I purchase have been inspected and PASSED — and that’s were many pet feed mfgs mislead the buyer — they say the product ingredients are USDA Inspected — just don’t tell you they ‘failed’ the inspection!

    There is a company now advertising on FB that advertises ‘Humanely Farmed/Raised’ and animals and shows beautiful photos of various livestock species — and tout ‘USDA Inspected’ — but have not seen fit to respond to my question about PASSING those inspections …

    Hmmm. makes one wonder what they are doing with the ‘leftovers’ !! Making their own Dog/cat feed??

  3. Cannoliamo

    Thank you Susan, but I have to say every time I read one of your articles, my stomach gets all knotted up. These wonderful agencies, … and the best we can say is that Pet food we buy is essentially animal feed for companion animals that may or may not contain the ingredients listed on the label depending on the state or country of origin. And of course they will deny any and all regulatory authority and liability if any (uncontaminated) food/feed ingredient causes any problems with the health of your cherished pet. I suspect FDA, USDA and AAFCO standards are all well-intended, but are like a lamb in a lion’s cage when it comes to regulating the pet food industry. By legal definition, pets are property and there are never punitive damages than can be awarded to aid in suffering their loss.

    btw, do you know how very few veterinary schools have small animal nutrition courses included in their required core curricula?

  4. Richard Stone

    I’m not sure if I understand this, but isn’t the FDA overseen by Congress. There has to be some oversight of the FDA?

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      I’ve tried in so many ways with Congress – including going to Washington DC and explaining the problem directly to members of Congress (though staff). And I’ve sent multiple letters to the Inspector General over FDA. But once I learn more of the Administrative Procedure Act, hopefully I’ll learn how to better tackle the problem.

  5. Ten Year Follower

    Among PF Consumers, who are the only ones who can drive CHANGE, until we can convince consumers of the difference between manufacturers treating their pets like livestock or companion animals, nothing will happen.

    Susan is attacking the problem effectively. Pet Food definitions need to be accurately communicated and available for public reference!

    Consumers can’t yet see (understand) the difference between protein trimmings (excess meat scraps that have been cut from larger pieces of meat and are too small to be sold individually. These trimmed pieces are used to produce other meat products, such as sausage or ground meat, or they may be large enough to be cut into cubes for stew meat and kabobs. The trimmings must be free of bones, cartilage, glands, tissue, tendons, and skin) and UNHEALTHY, DISEASED animal protein!

    Our dogs are NOT garbage cans!

    Once consumers understand the difference, they’ll evaluate labels effectively. Choosing between whether the PF protein is human grade edible quality, or not!

    I look forward to when these definitions are made public. We should all campaign our politicians for that right! To the Truth… that is.

  6. […] The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has oversight on all human food production and therefore has oversight on many of the ingredients that go into pet food since a lot of the ingredients in pet foods are by-products of human food production, but USDA oversight only covers foods that remain within the human-grade food production line. Once foods are deemed not fit for human consumption, or are not used in human foods, they are no longer under USDA purview. […]

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