What the FDA does:
✅ Regulates the pet industry
✅ Determines what ingredients are generally regarded as safe (GRAS)
✅ Oversees pet food recalls
The FDA regulates the pet industry and requires that pet foods, like human foods, be safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled. They also determine what ingredients are safe for use in pet food (GRAS or generally regarded as safe) but don’t provide definitions of those ingredients.
❌ Inconsistent enforcement of pet food regulations
❌ Doesn’t provide definitions of GRAS ingredients (so someone else has to)
❌ Doesn’t set nutritional requirements for pet food (so someone else has to)
Unlike human food, the FDA rarely brings action for violations of their pet food regulations. This is likely driven by a lack of resources and a mandate that is too broad (to regulate both the human food AND pet food supply chain). As a result, the individual states have had to pick up much of the responsibility for overseeing the dog food industry. They also do not provide any pet food nutrient requirements nor do they provide definitions of the GRAS ingredients leaving a big gap in pet food regulations that someone else must pick up (see below).
What the states do:
✅ Also regulates the pet industry via a set of 50 different state laws (based on AAFCO model bills)
✅ Sets the requirements for the information on pet food packaging (based on AAFCO model bills)
✅ Audit pet food manufacturing facilities in their states
It sounds crazy, but there are 50 different sets of state laws a pet food company must follow in the US. You would think all those laws lead to safer and more nutritious pet food, but they don’t because the QUALITY of the laws vary widely from state to state. Some, like Florida (who requires lab results of dog food to be sent to them on a regular basis) are strict, while many many others are more lenient (just send them a check and you can sell pet food in their state).
❌ Inconsistent laws from state to state (some strict, some lenient)
❌ Questions about the independence of regulators when it comes to the big pet food companies
With some exceptions, most states assume that the pet food industry is honest and following the rules. Unfortunately, given the number of pet food recalls each year, it would appear that trust may be misplaced.
Who is AAFCO:
AAFCO, or the American Association of Feed Control Officials, is a non-government organization based in Champaign/Urbana, Illinois that provides guidance to the states and pet industry. AAFCO leadership is made up of many current and former state feed control officers and has a close working relationship with the big pet companies.
What AAFCO does:
✅ Provides states with “model bills” they can pass into law definitions (for GRAS ingredients)
✅ Sets ingredient definitions
✅ Sets nutritional guidelines for pet food
While AAFCO does not regulate the pet industry, or “certify” pet food they have significant influence on the pet industry because they fill in the holes in the FDA’s pet food regulations. Specifically, they define the ingredients that can go into pet food and the nutritional requirements for a “complete and balanced” pet food (intended to be fed every day).
What is controversial:
❌Some question the independence of AAFCO officials when it comes to big pet food companies
❌Some issues with transparency (you must be an AAFCO member to see the ingredient definitions and pet food nutritional requirements).
Visit truthaboutpetfood.com and search "AAFCO" for more on these controversies.
When it comes to our pets, every detail matters! Here at COAST+RANGE, we pride ourselves on 100% transparency and honesty.
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