On Friday, the FDA proposed a new rule designed to improve the safety of pet food and animal feed in the US. The proposed regulation under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) would apply to all domestic and imported pet food and animal feed. The rule would require that pet food manufacturers adopt practices designed to improve food safety and prevent contamination from chemicals and disease-causing bacteria (such as Salmonella) which can cause illness in pets as well as humans handling the food.
Recently, chicken jerky treats imported from China have sickened thousands of pets, and hundreds of pets have died. The new ruling would help ensure that pet foods imported into the US are held to the same safety standards as foods produced in the US, and would also give the Food and Drug Administration more authority to hold pet food manufacturers accountable for deficiencies. “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,” says Daniel McChesney, Ph.D., director of the Office of Surveillance and Compliance at FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.
The rule would create guidelines which pet food manufacturers will be required to follow designed to ensure pet food quality and safety, as well as to prevent nutritional imbalances. Additionally, the FDA will have power to suspend a facility or restrict imports from overseas suppliers found in violation of the rules. The FDA will hold three public meetings on the proposed rule in November and December, and the rule will be open for public comment for 120 days.