By Dave Fairfield, Senior Vice President of Feed Services
The generally recognized as safe (GRAS) approval process for animal feed and pet food ingredients was a major agenda topic at the annual meeting of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) conducted July 30 – Aug. 1 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Discussion about the GRAS approval process centered around ingredients being marketed under “independent” GRAS determinations – an approval process established and allowed by federal law, but which does not involve direct oversight by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or state regulatory officials. The prevalence of animal feed and pet food ingredients marketed through independent GRAS conclusions has grown in recent years as a result of increased time requirements and complexity associated with other approval methods recognized by FDA. Other approval methods consist of the FDA animal food additive petition process, FDA GRAS notification process, and the AAFCO ingredient definition process. Ingredients that have been defined and approved for use in animal feed and pet food through a method involving FDA oversight are listed in the AAFCO Official Publication.
Given the increased use of independent GRAS determinations, FDA and state regulatory officials are expressing concern that some independent determinations have not adequately established the safety of ingredients for their intended uses. To address this concern, AAFCO has established a working group to identify and evaluate potential options that could provide regulatory officials with greater assurances about the safety of such ingredients. It is anticipated that the work group will provide a report at AAFCO’s mid-year meeting slated for January 21-23, 2019 in Savannah, Ga.
AAFCO is the professional organization of federal and state feed regulatory officials. The NGFA interacts extensively with AAFCO, and NGFA feed industry members and NGFA staff serve as non-voting advisers to AAFCO committees. More than 430 industry representatives and regulatory officials attended the Fort Lauderdale meeting, the largest attendance ever at an AAFCO event.
Other Issues: Among the other issues addressed during the AAFCO meeting were:
- Labeling Requirements for Potentially Toxic Nutrients: The AAFCO Feed Labeling Committee considered whether to establish maximum label guarantee requirements for nutrients that may cause toxicity when present in animal feed and pet food at high concentrations. As an outcome, it was decided that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency would provide an overview on how that agency addresses this issue at the committee’s next meeting.
- AAFCO Name Change: The AAFCO Strategic Affairs Committee discussed potentially changing the association’s name to the Association of Animal Feed Control Officials or the Association of Animal Food Control Officials, but members voted not to proceed with a name change at this time.
- Pet Food Issues: The Pet Food Committee had a significant discussion related to efforts to modernize pet food labels, as well as means to verify human grade claims made for pet food products.
- Feed Ingredient Definitions: Among the feed ingredients voted by the AAFCO membership to be published in the AAFCO Official Publication were: 1) oat fiber; 2) low glucosinolate high erucic acid rapeseed meal, solvent extracted; 3) recovered retail food; 4) cashew nut shell extract; and 5) cashew nut shell liquid. In addition, the AAFCO Ingredient Definition Committee took no action to delete or revise the existing tentative definition for hydrogenated glycerides during its meeting.