FDA Proposes Rules to Ensure Safe Food for Pets

For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing rules intended to protect pet foods from disease-causing bacteria, chemicals and other contaminants.

The proposed Preventive Controls for Food for Animals rule would establish new protections for animal foods. Currently, the FDA seldom gets involved unless there is evidence of contaminated animal food on the market.

The proposed rule would create regulations that address the manufacturing, processing, packing and holding of animal food. Good manufacturing practices would be established for facilities to cover cleaning and maintenance, pest control, and the personal hygiene of people who work there.

The animal rule also addresses the prevention of nutrient imbalances in animal foods. Where humans meet their nutritional requirements through various foods from various resources, animal food is intended to provide a complete and balanced diet. If a food is lacking in a particular nutrient, the animal has no way to make it up.

For example, cats need thiamine (Vitamin B1), but their bodies don’t produce it. Without it, they can suffer severe neurological problems, so they need to get it from their food.

The proposed animal rule in intended to work with two rules proposed in July 2013 to see that foods exported to the United States are held to the same FDA food safety standards as foods produced here. Together, the three rules would help prevent contamination of both domestic and imported foods for animals.

The requirements proposed in both the animal and import rules are designed to help prevent situations like the contamination of pet foods that in 2007 sickened and killed dogs and cats across the country.  The contamination resulted from the use of pet food ingredients imported from China.

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