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How Is Pet Food Regulated?

Dog eating from bowlGlobally, petfood manufacturer associations are a good source of regulatory information.

The following details the regulation of petfood in the US.


The authority to regulate petfood is vested in federal and state law. The federal agency responsible for animal feed regulation is the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates animal feed, including petfood, under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic act and Federal Code, Title 21. Each state has a program responsible for regulating livestock feed and petfood, under the laws and rules of their specific jurisdiction, usually associated with the State Departments of Agriculture.

Federal authority is primarily concerned with interstate feed distribution.

A third entity, known as the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), is important to an understanding of how the feed regulatory system works. AAFCO itself has no regulatory authority, although its members are FDA representatives and state feed control officials.

AAFCO has established a uniform code, known as the Model Bill. This bill serves as the standard on which states base their feed laws and regulations to maintain a substantial degree of uniformity throughout the US. AAFCO also has established uniform definitions of numerous feed ingredients to provide a common understanding of what is used in animal feeds.

While the roles of the FDA and the state feed control programs overlap, there are differences. Federal authority is primarily concerned with interstate feed distribution and state authority is involved with products distributed within their jurisdiction. There is a tremendous amount of cooperative activity between the FDA and states through information exchange, cooperative agreements, contracts and grants. The state feed control officials do perform the major portion of the regulation of feed and petfood products within their jurisdictions.

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This article appeared in Petfood Industry, July 2008. ┬ęCopyright 2008, All Rights Reserved.