AAFCO Membership Approves New Model Pet Food and Specialty Pet Food Regulations
Changes to pet food and specialty pet food packaging will provide consistency and transparency
CHAMPAIGN, Ill., July 31, 2023 — Pet owners will soon find updated packaging and labels when shopping for pet food and specialty pet food products, including treats and supplements — the first major update in more than 40 years. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) approved the new suggested labeling guidelines that include standardized nutrition information, clear ingredient statements, and storage and handling instructions. The modern design and updated information will ensure consistency and transparency, so consumers can easily make more informed buying decisions for their pets.
The passage of the revised Model Regulations for Pet Food and Specialty Pet Food sets a new standard for pet food manufacturers and distributors to follow. Feed regulatory professionals across the United States and Canada worked cooperatively with consumers and professionals within the pet food industry on a strategic course to ensure pet food labels provide a more comprehensive view of the product.
“The feedback we received from both consumers and industry advisors throughout this process was an important part of our collaboration to make improvements. We sought public comment to learn more about how pet food label changes would enhance transparency and provide clearer information in a consumer-friendly format. New packaging and labels will be well-defined and easy to understand. And that’s good news for all of us, from pet owners and manufacturers to pets themselves,” said Austin Therrell, executive director of AAFCO.
Recommended Enforcement Discretion Period
As states begin the rulemaking process of adopting and enforcing the Model Regulations for Pet Food and Specialty Pet Food, AAFCO strongly encourages uniform and timely adoption to ensure alignment and consistency. Each state should make a determination on adoption and enforcement with the recommendation to begin the formal rulemaking process. AAFCO is committed to working with our members and partners to ensure as much of a uniform adoption process as possible.
AAFCO recommends that state feed regulatory programs utilize enforcement discretion in the review of pet food labels for a period of six years, based on the date of the availability of the printed version of the 2024 Official Publication.
AAFCO’s Pet Food Committee will evaluate this enforcement discretion recommendation annually, taking into consideration potential issues or challenges that may arise such as: methodology alignment, instrumentation procurement and time to build data sets pertaining to total dietary fiber; label and formulation development, website/e-commerce platforms and other software development related to market activities; and access to packaging design, printing and laboratory analysis support.
Major Label Changes
Below is a snapshot of what to expect from label updates in four key areas:
- Nutrition Facts Box – Updated to resemble human-food labeling more closely.
- Intended Use Statement – Updated to new location on the lower-third of the front display panel to help consumers easily identify the purpose of the pet food.
- Ingredient Statement – Updated to clarify the use of consistent terminology and allow parentheticals and common or usual names for vitamins.
- Handling and Storage Instructions (optional) – Updated and standardized with optional icons for greater consistency.
About Pet Food Label Modernization (PFLM)
AAFCO and its key stakeholders have worked together since 2015, to develop the revised Pet Food Model Regulations. Multiple rounds of consumer research were conducted to understand how pet food labels can better communicate important information. AAFCO used the feedback from consumers and industry officials to develop this new update and to support uniform state implementation of the new regulations. This initiative has been a key example of the benefit of industry and consumer collaboration to solve challenges and make improvements to pet food labels. For more information about PFLM, visit aafco.org/pflm.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has been guiding state, federal and international feed regulators with ingredient definitions, label standards and laboratory standards for more than 110 years, while supporting the health and safety of people and animals. Its members are charged by their state or federal laws to regulate the manufacture, sale and distribution of animal feeds and feed ingredients. Learn more at aafco.org.