The following are from my notes of the recent AAFCO meetings – bits and pieces of information heard or discussed.
During a conversation with AAFCO President Robert Waltz and AAFCO President-elect Tim Darden, Mr. Darden expressed a concern he has as a State Department of Agriculture representative. He shared “we almost never hear from veterinarians.” This friendly/casual conversation was regarding the difficulty that State Officials have investigating what happened to a sick pet or pet that has died believed to be related to a pet food or treat. Mr. Darden shared that his office (New Mexico) has even gone to a veterinarians office to pick up a deceased pet in attempts to investigate – on their own initiative, not by request of the veterinarian.
The struggle for all of us is lack of pet food adverse event knowledge provided to veterinarians. Most veterinarians don’t know to report possible pet food related illnesses and deaths to their State Department of Agriculture; most pet owners don’t know as well. Somehow – someway – the FDA and each state Department of Agriculture need to provide practicing veterinarians with preferred procedure to diagnose and report a pet food related illness. Human physicians work with state officials reporting human illness, we need a similar system provided to our veterinarians.
Another part of this same conversation, I brought up the subject of human grade ingredients. The opinion I shared with them was since AAFCO doesn’t have a definition of human grade, why can’t the official U.S. Department of Agriculture definition of human grade be used…USDA inspected and approved. My point was probably not made well, both Mr. Waltz and Mr. Darden commented “it’s pet food, it’s not human food”. Though it’s hard for me to do as well, try to understand that the AAFCO folks think regulations, black and white. Their regulatory thinking process considers ‘these are regulations for pet foods, thus there is no need to add human food regulations to it’ (hope this makes sense, it is hard to put into words). However when I asked ‘what if pet food manufacturers that source all USDA inspected and approved meats and source all USDA restaurant grade (or similar) produce – why can’t those manufacturers be provided with a means to prove their sources to state officials and in turn be provided with the opportunity to tell consumers this information on their label?’ This is what pet owners want – clarity of quality of ingredients. This seemed to be a possibility to them – at least down the road.
Calorie statements on pet food products are official now. However the calorie statements will not be required on the pet food label until – for existing products – 3 years from the publication of the 2014 AAFCO rule book (Official Publication).
There are revised nutrient profiles for pet foods coming our way. Dr. Bill Burkholder of FDA discussed the new nutrient profiles and shared a great deal of time was invested ‘by the committee’ and he urged the committee to accept the profiles. No information on what the new nutrient profiles are were discussed; I assume this information will be released at the January 2013 meeting.
And lastly, it was disheartening during the meeting the mention and discussion of many ‘waste’ animal feed ingredients. Numerous leftover/waste foods from the production of bio-diesel fuels were discussed. I understand that the bio-diesel industry wishes to make further profit from their leftovers…but I can’t understand how this waste can be of any true benefit to the animals who consume it.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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