Significant changes are being made to labeling requirements for dog and cat food supplements, such as multivitamins, and these changes will impact a large swath of industry participants, including:
- Companies that manufacture and/or market pet food supplements
- Retailers that sell pet food supplements
- Veterinarians who recommend pet food supplements
Pet Food Supplements 101
Pet food supplements are products formulated to provide nutritional benefits in conjunction with a complete and balanced diet and are not considered treats.
Products that fit into this category may include:
- Vitamins and minerals
- Skin and coat products
- Fiber-based products
- Essential fatty acid products
Pet food supplements can come in many forms, such as tablets, capsules, powders, pastes, liquids, and soft chews.
Have You Heard of PFLM?
In 2015, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) began its Pet Food Label Modernization (PFLM) project with the goal of updating the Pet Food Model Regulations to improve consumer understanding when reviewing labels and comparing pet food products, and bringing labeling for pet food more in line with labeling used for human food.
In July 2023, AAFCO approved the proposed changes, which include:
- A standardized way to present nutrition information
- An Intended Use Statement
- Clear and consistent listing of ingredients
- The inclusion of storage and handling instructions
The new requirements will be published in the 2024 AAFCO Official Publication (OP). In the meantime, AAFCO created a one-page document that provides an overview of PFLM and the key changes.
Impact on Manufacturers and Marketers
After AAFCO publishes the new model regulations in the OP, it is encouraged that companies begin label updates as soon as possible. However, each state will need to go through its own rulemaking process, which varies in length of time from state to state.
In consideration of each state’s rulemaking process and the efforts the industry will need to make to incorporate these label changes, AAFCO has recommended that states allow for a transition period of six years. Most states will allow this, although some may require earlier implementation.
Therefore, label updates will be a rolling process with labels displaying the new label requirements entering the market as early as Q1-2024 all the way through the transition period. Starting in 2024, you may begin to see two different label formats on pet food supplements as companies begin updating their labels.
How Retailers and Veterinarians Can Help
The labels on pet food supplements have information similar to that found on dog and cat food packages, including:
- Nutritional information such as calorie content and guaranteed analysis
- Intended use
- Feeding directions
- Contact information
As companies adopt the labeling changes in the years ahead and two different label formats are seen in the marketplace, retailers and veterinarians can educate pet owners about the labeling changes and how they help pet parents make informed choices about the products they choose for their pets.
How NASC is Staying Ahead of the Curve
The NASC Compliance Team is working diligently to update and develop guidance documents to help members navigate how to correctly revise and create pet food supplement labels. In January, members can visit the NASC Labeling webpage to access those resources.
On January 22, 2024, in Chattanooga, TN, AAFCO will host a half-day PFLM Workshop to provide training for industry and regulators. Both Bill Bookout, NASC president, and Jennifer Gornnert, NASC compliance officer, serve on the AAFCO Pet Food Committee and will be participating as trainers at the workshop. For more information, please visit https://www.aafco.org/events/.
In February, the NASC Compliance Team will host a PFLM training webinar for our members.
If these changes sound overwhelming, do not worry. The NASC Compliance Team is here to answer questions and provide guidance to keep NASC members informed and in compliance.
Questions? Email the NASC Compliance Team.