FDA releases fifth FSMA rule, animal food is focus

Dog foodA new rule stemming from the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is taking aim at making animal food, including pet food and livestock feed, safer.

The rule, called Preventive Controls for Food for Animals, is the fifth rule released under the FSMA umbrella. It focuses on preventive measures to safeguard animal food from a range of concerns, including pathogens and chemicals, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Under the new rule, regulations would be implemented that establish good manufacturing practices for animal food facilities, including cleaning, maintenance, personnel concerns, and pest control. Facilities also will have to have a food safety plan, and analyze and monitor potential hazards in the facility. Facilities that work with human food have had such rules for years but this is the first time a similar rule will apply to animal food.

Although much of the rule is similar to the Preventive Controls for Human Food rule announced by the agency previously, there are some crucial differences. For example, allergens are less of a concern in animals than in humans and therefore aren’t addressed in the new rule, while mycotoxins such as aflatoxin may be more of a concern for animals than in people (some animals are much more sensitive to the toxins than humans).

The rule also will seek to prevent nutrient imbalances in animal food, since most animals only get their food from one source, whereas humans consume a variety of foods, FDA notes.

The rule’s provisions would apply to domestic as well as imported animal food, raw materials and ingredients. It also will tie in with two previously announced FSMA rules that address the safety of imports, which officials say will help prevent cases such as one involving melamine-tainted pet food from China in 2007.

“Unlike safeguards already in place to protect human foods, there are currently no regulations governing the safe production of most animal foods. There is no type of hazard analysis. This rule would change all that,” said Daniel McChesney, Ph.D., director of the Office of Surveillance and Compliance at FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM). “Whether in the home or on the farm, people take the safety of their animals very seriously, and so do we.”

Currently, FDA typically only becomes involved with animal food when contaminated food or feed is in the marketplace.

Comments on the rule are due 120 days from publication in the Federal Register, which currently is slated for Oct. 29. Once the rule is finalized, manufacturers will have 60 days from final publication in the Federal Register to comply (however, FDA also plans to implement a tiered implementation plan depending on the size of the affected facility).

For more of our FSMA coverage, click here. For more on the rule from FDA, click here.

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