Who Ensures Canine Meals Is Secure?


These of us residing within the developed world can relaxation straightforward when shopping for meals on the native grocery retailer, as we all know there’s a giant security mechanism in place to make sure our (human) meals is nutritious and protected.

The main points fluctuate from one nation to the following, however there may be a minimum of one governmental company that oversees the manufacturing, transport, and sale of meals in most Western nations.

However what about our pets? Does any company work to make sure our canines’ meals is wholesome and protected?

Sure, there are companies — a number of, the truth is — overseeing the protection and diet of pet meals.

We’ll clarify which of them achieve this, the scope of their work, and all the pieces else you’ll want to know under.

Key Takeaways: Who Regulates Pet Meals?

  • In the US, pet meals is regulated by three main teams. This contains the FDA, a non-public group referred to as the AAFCO, and varied state-level companies which differ from one state to the following.
  • Every of those teams performs a barely completely different position. The AAFCO establishes a number of dietary and labelling tips, the FDA units nationwide requirements and guidelines, and varied state companies implement rules for pet meals manufactured inside their borders.
  • The overwhelming majority of commercially produced canine meals adjust to the principles and requirements in place. House owners who choose mainstream canine meals can relaxation straightforward, figuring out that their pets are consuming protected, nutritious meals.
Pet-Care Professional Tip: International locations Differ in Their Approaches

We’re specializing in the regulatory equipment for US-made and offered pet meals right now. We’ll attempt to cowl the methods different international locations depend on in a future article.

Pet Meals Regulation: Who’s in Cost?

Pet meals regulation is a posh matter that includes three key ranges, together with each governmental our bodies and personal teams.

We’ll clarify the fundamentals of the method under.  

1. The AAFCO: The Major Pet Meals Regulating Physique

AAFCO establishes pet food guidelines

The primary pet-food group you’ll want to find out about is the Affiliation of American Feed Management Officers – higher often called the AAFCO.

The AAFCO is a non-public, non-profit group that helps set dietary requirements, codify ingredient definitions, and set up labeling practices for animal meals. The group additionally units tips concerning the sale and distribution of meals and medicines.

The AAFCO describes its responsibility as offering:

“a mechanism for growing and implementing uniform and equitable legal guidelines, rules, requirements and enforcement insurance policies for regulating the manufacture, distribution and sale of animal feeds.”

However apparently, regardless of the the company’s significance within the pet-food business, the AAFCO has no regulatory authority in any respect.   

Within the AAFCO’s personal phrases:

AAFCO doesn’t regulate, take a look at, approve or certify pet meals in any manner.

As a substitute, the AAFCO largely creates the rules which different authorities implement.  `

2. The U.S. Meals and Drug Administration (FDA)

FDA regulates pet food

Along with regulating the protection of human meals and medicines, the FDA oversees some points of pet meals security.

Within the FDA’s personal phrases, they require that:

“all animal meals, like human meals, be fit for human consumption, produced beneath sanitary situations, include no dangerous substances, and be honestly labeled. As well as, canned pet meals should be processed in conformance with the low acid canned meals rules to make sure the pet meals is freed from viable microorganisms, see Title 21 Code of Federal Rules, Half 113 (21 CFR 113).”

In addition they monitor the protection of the particular substances utilized in pet meals.

Because the company places it:

“FDA ensures that the substances utilized in pet meals are protected and have an acceptable operate within the pet meals. Many substances, equivalent to meat, poultry, and grains, are thought-about protected and don’t require pre-market approval. Different substances, equivalent to sources of minerals, nutritional vitamins or different vitamins, flavorings, preservatives, or processing aids, could also be Typically Acknowledged As Secure for the supposed use (21 CFR 582 and 584) or should have approval as meals components (21 CFR 570, 571 and 573). Colorings should have approvals for such use as laid out in 21 CFR 70 and be listed in Components 73, 74, or 81.”

As a part of this work, they not solely keep the Typically Acknowledged As Secure (GRAS) checklist of substances talked about above but in addition an inventory of banned substances.

In addition they define the principles surrounding the harvesting of animals. In different phrases, they element which animals can and can’t be used, in addition to the physique elements which are acceptable to incorporate in pet meals.

Apparently, the FDA doesn’t require that pet meals merchandise be preapproved earlier than hitting the cabinets:

“There isn’t a requirement that pet meals merchandise have premarket approval by the FDA. Nonetheless, the Federal Meals, Drug, and Beauty Act (FFDCA) requires that pet meals, like human meals, be fit for human consumption, produced beneath sanitary situations, include no dangerous substances, and be honestly labeled.” “There isn’t a requirement that pet meals merchandise have premarket approval by the FDA. Nonetheless, the Federal Meals, Drug, and Beauty Act (FFDCA) requires that pet meals, like human meals, be fit for human consumption, produced beneath sanitary situations, include no dangerous substances, and be honestly labeled.”

The FDA additionally oversees issues like correct product identification (together with the portions contained within the bag or can) and that the pet food substances — together with vegatables and fruits, proteins, and grains — are correctly listed.

3. Numerous State Authorities Businesses

State agencies regulate pet food

The FDA is the most important physique overseeing pet meals in the US, however it’s not the one authority that establishes rules for pet meals producers – many states additionally impose rules concerning the manufacture and sale of pet meals.

Most of those rules relate to pet meals labeling, which regularly mirror the necessities the FDA has established. However most states additionally require producers to adjust to AAFCO tips.

Let’s have a look at a couple of particular person states to provide you an concept of how they differ.


Pennsylvania's pet food rules

Pennsylvania – particularly, the Pennsylvania Division of Agriculture — imposes rules governing quite a lot of points of pet meals within the state.

Happily for pet homeowners, the state outlines its insurance policies fairly completely, stating that:

“Animal feed, pet meals, and specialty pet meals are all thought-about Business Feed beneath the Pennsylvania Business Feed Act and are regulated via the inspection of Pennsylvania manufacturing and distribution (retail and wholesale) institutions for compliance with labeling, licensing, and Present Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs).”   

The commonwealth additionally collects and assessments meals to make sure they’re not contaminated and that they meet ensures printed on product labels.

Moreover, Pennsylvania requires feed manufacturing amenities and guarantors of feed who distribute merchandise within the commonwealth to acquire a license.

By way of labeling necessities, Pennsylvania’s legal guidelines primarily mimic the rules established by the AAFCO.

North Carolina

North Carolina's pet food rules

In North Carolina, the Meals & Drug Safety Division oversees compliance with the North Carolina Business Feed Legislation. As defined by the North Carolina Division of Agriculture & Shopper Companies, the regulation’s goal is to:

“…regulate the manufacture and distribution of business feed throughout the state.”

The regulation establishes an annual registration requirement for business feed and pet meals distributed within the state.

It additionally imposes a statewide inspection service, which checks feed labeling for Good Manufacturing Observe Rules compliance.

Moreover, the state’s Feed Laboratory collects samples for chemical and microscopic analyses. That is to determine that the meals offered are protected and serve their supposed functions.

New York

New York's pet food rules

In New York, rules governing the sale of pet meals and treats (in addition to giant animal feed) are codified in Article 8 of the Agriculture and Markets Legislation Regarding the Manufacture and Distribution of Business Feed.

This can be a substantial doc that touches on all the pieces from licensing and registration to labeling, misbranding, and adulteration.

Most of those necessities mirror these set forth by the FDA or AAFCO. For instance, the pet meals labeling necessities in New York are primarily the identical as these set forth by the FDA.

Article 8 additionally contains some boilerplate legalese regarding rule modifications and the bounds of the commissioner’s discretion.

The state additionally particulars among the manufacturing necessities for these making “do-it-yourself” pet treats in residential kitchens. For instance, it requires these merchandise to be shelf-stable and never produced by specialised strategies, equivalent to dehydration or canning.

Moreover, the state imposes rules regarding human-grade pet treats, stating that:

 “a home-processed pet deal with can’t declare on the label, web site, or different commercial to be “human grade” or “made with human grade substances.”  

The one meals that may bear this label should be produced in business kitchens which are in compliance with federal rules 21 CFR half 117 CGMPs.

Pet-Care Professional Tip: Location Points

Typically talking, particular person states have a tendency to manage the manufacture of pet meals inside their borders greater than the gross sales of pet meals within the state.

So, should you’re enthusiastic about digging into the protection of your pet’s meals, it is going to usually be most useful to analysis the necessities of the state during which your canine’s meals was manufactured, reasonably than the state during which it was offered (mostly, the state during which you reside).

You’ll be able to verify this interactive map maintained by the AAFCO to study in regards to the feed management contacts in every of the 50 states.

What In regards to the USDA? Does the USDA Regulate Pet Meals?

USDA does not regulate pet food

Within the human-food realm, each the FDA and USDA work to manage meals security. However that’s not the case with pet meals, as the USDA does not play a task in pet meals regulation.

As a substitute, the USDA punts to the FDA within the pet meals realm. They flat-out state as a lot on their web site, explaining that:

“Pet meals, treats, and dietary supplements are regulated by the Meals and Drug Administration (FDA) reasonably than by USDA.”

Regulation of the Pet Meals Business: FAQ

questions about pet food regulations

Don’t fear should you’re feeling like that is all clear as mud – you’re not alone. The truth is, many homeowners are confused by the tangled net of regulatory our bodies concerned within the pet meals enterprise.

To assist, we’ve rounded up among the most typical questions and solutions under:

Are pet meals regulated?

Sure, pet meals are regulated by each the FDA and varied state governmental companies. Moreover, the AAFCO, whereas having no regulatory authority, is concerned within the pet meals regulation course of, because it establishes most of the tips which are enforced by states.

Is pet meals regulated by the USDA?

No. The USDA leaves pet meals regulation as much as the FDA and varied state companies.

Does the AAFCO regulate pet meals?

No. The AAFCO establishes issues like tips and finest practices, however it doesn’t regulate, take a look at, approve, or certify pet meals.

Does the FDA regulate animal feed?

Sure, the FDA is likely one of the main regulatory companies overseeing pet feed (which incorporates what homeowners consider as “pet food”).

Which canine meals are AAFCO permitted?

The AAFCO doesn’t approve pet meals in any respect; they set up requirements and tips that producers should adjust to in accordance with state and federal legal guidelines. That being stated, the overwhelming majority of canine meals on the market within the USA meet or exceed the AAFCO tips for a number of life phases.



As you possibly can little doubt see by now, the regulation of pet meals in the US is a posh situation involving a number of teams. For probably the most half, pet homeowners can guarantee the protection of their pets by merely sticking to mainstream pet food manufacturers offered by respected retailers.

What are your ideas on this difficult net of companies overseeing pet meals manufacturing in the US? Does it provide you with peace of thoughts, or do you discover it overwhelming?

Tell us within the feedback under!


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Carl Brooks


Introducing Carl, a highly experienced writer at our blog. With a deep passion for dogs and expertise in hypoallergenic dog food, Carl brings a wealth of knowledge and insight to our platform. His extensive experience in the field allows him to provide valuable advice on the technical specifications and features of hypoallergenic dog food, making him a valuable resource for all dog owners seeking to optimize their pet’s health and well-being.



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