Wednesday’s meetings were the two commitees of most significance to pet food consumers; the Pet Food Committee and the Ingredient Definitions Committee.
Something that has been talked about for years in the Pet Food Committee meeting has been proposed revisions to the AAFCO dog and cat food nutrient profiles, this meeting was no exception. At least an hour of this 2 hour meeting was spent on the final details of what will soon be model bill revisions to nutrient requirements for cats and dogs. Only small parts of the nutrient profiles were discussed, the majority of the time was spent on minor tweaks to the wording to the proposed model bill.
Backing up a bit, for those not aware, AAFCO is an organization comprised of State Department of Agriculture Representatives and FDA. Together they develop what is known as model bills which are published each year in the AAFCO Official Publication (known as the OP). These model bills can then be put into law in each state, or not. Meaning some states update their pet food/animal food laws to coordinate with the currnt AAFCO OP regularly and some states don’t. Yes, it’s confusing. So, because the model bills written/developed at these meetings will become law, there has to be painstaking detailed attention paid to every word. Sitting there as a consumer advocate, knowing so many things need to be changed, it is difficult for things to move so slow. But…that is the way it works and I understand.
I can’t tell you all the changes that will take place with nutrient profiles, all the details are not provided to attendees. We’ll all find out when they are published in the OP. But I can share that part of the delay during this part of the meeting was again caused by the representatives of the Pet Food Institute (PFI), just like the delays they caused during the meetings yesterday. But, to give AAFCO members credit, the committee allowed PFI to complain and their protests were basically ignored. Plus, the delay caused by PFI yesterday regarding calorie statements on pet food labels were moved through this session by AAFCO members. As it turned out, AAFCO went forward with calorie statements regardless to the complaints of PFI (yesterday).
Also during the Pet Food Committee meeting was an update on the certification of organic pet food. The bad news is that the PFI has been heavily involved in the National Organics Standard Board’s development of organic pet food regulations. And needless to say, ‘they’ want the allowance of numerous synthetic ingredients in a pet food dubbed organic. So the next huge need for us (concerned consumers) is to have consumer representation at the National Organics Standard Board. More on this at a later date (once I find out more from NOSB).
During the Ingredient Definitions Committee meeting, a great deal of discussion was on animal feed ingredients. One of the discussions was the inclusion in the OP a list of approved natural flavors. Dr. Jean Hofve questioned the FDA to the safety of some of the approved flavorings, the FDA insisted if the manufacturer used the flavorings at safe levels FDA believes they are of no risk. I questioned FDA if the model bill could be written that would require manufacturers to disclose what flavorings they use. I shared with AAFCO and FDA that many pet food consumers want to know everything that is included in their pet food, but manufacturers state natural flavors are proprietary. The FDA representative infomed me this is part of federal law, human foods or pet foods – by law – do not have to disclose what is in that natural flavor. She suggested I contact her and we can work on changing the law. Will do after I get home.
Two more quick notes before I have to get things in order to fly home…
1. Dr Dave Dzanis, who attends every AAFCO meeting and who I’ve disagreed with (publically) on issues in the past…well I have to give credit where credit is due with this meeting. When I complained that AAFCO allowed 3 indusry representatives to mislead the audience and members of AAFCO on GM labelings, Dr. Dzanis stood up and told everyone that opposing opinion does need to be provided. Thanks Dr. Dzanis.
2. Dr. Melissa Brookshire, who is a consultant in the industry and has worked/consulted for Diamond Pet Food in the past, and I have a not so pleasant history. But at this meeting Dr Brookshire came over to me after the meetings yesterday and kindly offered an olive branch. I’m not certain where that will lead, but I did so appreciate her effort.
I’ve got lots of ideas and more to share, that will be coming soon.
Thanks to everyone out there for your support and everyone at AAFCO for another opportunity to provide you the consumer perspective.