EUROPE- The European Council has expanded its regulations on organic food labeling to encompass pet food, in line with its commitment to high standards for organic products. 

This move comes after the European Parliament and Council’s preliminary accord earlier this year, aiming to address the burgeoning consumer demand for organic pet food.

According to the new regulations, pet food can bear the EU organic production logo if 95% of its agricultural ingredients meet the organic criterion, akin to the standards set for human organic food.

The expansion of these labeling rules into the pet food sector is seen as a response to the increasing demand for organic pet products, making it easier for consumers to identify and choose organic ingredients for their beloved pets.

To ensure compliance and boost awareness, the Council has made it mandatory for pre-packaged organic pet food to display the EU organic production logo, providing clarity to consumers about the products they are purchasing.

Luis Planas Puchades, the acting minister of agriculture, fisheries, and food for Spain, expressed his support for the new regulations, stating, “With these new and updated rules, it will be easier for pet owners to buy organic food for their pets. At the same time, the regulation will make it easier for producers to enter the organic pet food market and improve certainty for EU consumers.

The European Union emphasizes that the pet food sector plays a role in achieving the objectives of the European Green Deal. The new regulation aims to inform consumers about the composition of pet food, whether it contains organic or non-organic ingredients, enhancing consumer confidence and promoting fair competition within the pet food industry.

New regulation less stringent 

The EU introduced its organic production regulation on January 1, 2022, which required pet food to have all organic agricultural ingredients to be labeled as organic. The recent amendment reduces this requirement to 95% of organic agricultural ingredients by weight, making it more practical for pet food producers to meet organic labeling requirements and enter the market. 

This change aligns with the farm-to-fork strategy’s goal to reach 25% of the EU’s agricultural land use as organic by 2030.

The new law also mandates that producers reference organic production in their sales descriptions and ingredient lists, fostering transparency and encouraging the use of organic ingredients in pet foods.

To accommodate producers during this transition, the law allows the sale of organic pet food labeled according to national rules or private standards between January 1, 2022, and the new regulation’s effective date, allowing them to continue selling these products until their stocks are exhausted. 

Pet food manufacturers have a six-month grace period to incorporate the EU organic logo on their products.

The European Council adopted this new law on October 9, and it will come into effect three days after its publication in the Official Journal.

Events preceding the law’s enactment

Before the recent regulation, organic production of all pet food ingredients was not a prerequisite for labeling a product as organic, as requirements for organic pet food were typically determined at the national level. 

However, in January 2022, regulation 2018/848 was implemented, demanding that processed animal feed be labeled as organic only if 100% of its agricultural ingredients and at least 95% of its dry ingredients were organic. 

This shift presented challenges for producers as they faced limitations in sourcing certain organic ingredients, particularly those that enhanced the taste of pet food.

To address this issue, the European Commission proposed a regulation on November 28, 2022, to standardize the labeling of organic pet food. The European Council subsequently refined the proposal by introducing transitional periods, allowing producers time to adjust to the new regulations.