USA – The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has approved new dog and cat food label guidelines dubbed pet food label modernization (PFLM), the first major update in more than 40 years, to provide consistency and transparency for consumers.
According to the association, since 2015, 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,” said Austin Therrell, executive director of AAFCO.
“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.”
AAFCO is an independent organization that 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.
The revised PFLM, therefore, highlights major changes including the introduction of a new Pet Nutrition Fact Box, which has been restructured to more closely resemble human food labels, as well as a new standard for the Intended Use Statement, which will require brands to declare the intended use in the lower-third area of the front display panel.
Both changes will provide consistency across product categories and benefit consumers’ understanding of how a product should be used.
Other changes will include new guidelines for ingredient statement, which allows parentheticals and common names for vitamins and otherwise aims to make ingredients clearer and more recognizable to consumers.
Additionally, new safe handling and Storage Instructions have been approved as an optional measure for brands going forward.
Therrell disclosed that the guidelines will ensure new packaging and labels will be well-defined and easy to understand adding that “that’s good news for all of us, from pet owners and manufacturers to pets themselves”.
To abide by the regulations, AAFCO has recommended a six-year transition period for the adoption and enforcement of the new regulations that pet food processors and distributors will need to follow. During that transition, some brands will likely move more quickly than others, so consumers will need to be aware of the differences expected.
As states begin the rulemaking process of adopting and enforcing PFLM, the association said that Pet owners will see some changes before that date, but all packaging should be consistent by the end of the six-year period.