Not all raw material may be resold by the farmer or processor. Some items may be considered hazardous risk material and be required to be condemned such as skulls and spinal cords. Please check specific requirements for the species under consideration. Other organs which do not pose a public health hazard may be claimed by the farmer, but only if the slaughterhouse has a HAACP plan in place which allows for this. Please refer to the earlier section on Organ Meats and Specified Risk Materials
In order to understand pet food regulations, it is important to understand some specific terminology.
“Commercial feed” means all un-adulterated materials used as feed or manufactured into a feed, which includes pet food and specialty pet food.
“Manufacture” means to grind, mix or blend, or further process a commercial feed for distribution. If whole muscle meats are ground, then this is considered manufacturing, and NYSDAM rules for “commercial feed” apply.
Pet food is defined as any commercial feed prepared and distributed for consumption by pets. By definition, pet food includes raw ground meat.
Specialty pet food refers to commercially prepared food prepared for specialty pets which includes those pets maintained is a cage or tank such as gerbils, hamsters, canaries and other birds, tropical fish and gold fish, as well as snakes and turtles.
Whole Muscle Raw Meat as Pet Food
By definition, single ingredient products that are not changed in any way (such as whole beef livers) do not qualify as “commercial feed”. There is no difference from what species the meat comes from. For example, whole rabbit intended for dogs is not defined as “commercial feed”. Raw meat and raw animal tissues for animal food do not require pre-marketing approval or certification under current law.
Any meat which is ground would qualify under NYSDAM’s definition as a commercial feed and then would be further qualified as pet food. Such a product must follow both the guidelines for commercial feed and the additional guidelines for pet food. (See NYSDAM Circular 941 and 943 relating to commercial feeds).
There are no FDA or NYSDAM regulations on manufacturing and distribution of commercial feed if only whole raw meat is sold for pet food. Rather than mandating legally enforceable responsibilities, the FDA provides “guidance”. The following is FDA Guidance on the Manufacturing and Labeling of Raw Meat Foods For Companion and Captive Non-Companion Carnivores and Omnivores, and should be viewed as recommendations only. None of what follows regarding the sale of whole muscle raw meat as pet food is required.
The FDA recognizes three acceptable sources of ingredients for dog food: meat obtained directly from human food processing facilities; meat from animal that have died by means other than slaughter; and meat originally offered but no longer suitable for human consumption. Products made from tissues of animal origin not inspected and passed for human consumption may be subject to USDA regulations for transporting and denaturing (9 CFR Part 325). In addition, any pathogens present must be removed, or the meat is defined as “adulterated”. There are several ways to remove pathogens, but they all involve manufacturing. Thus, the FDA recommends that any raw meat intended to be fed raw be USDA FSIS inspected and passed for human consumption. The FDA recommends grinding all bones and hard materials. They also require that all other ingredients should be suitable for use in animal feeds.
The manufacturing facility should take all measures to prevent adulteration of the raw product. This could include irradiation; participating in the USDA voluntary inspection program for Certified Products for Dogs, Cats and other Carnivora (9 CFR Part 355); following good manufacturing practices (as found in 21 CFR Part 110); or implementing a HACCP plan.
Unless the raw product is freeze-dried, the FDA recommends that it remain frozen at all times prior to use. Product should be transported and stored in a manner to avoid microbial contamination and growth.
Labels must conform to all pertinent FDA regulations and statues, in the case of raw meat there are none, thus the FDA recommends that all labels conform to all AAFCO model regulations. The FDA (along with NYSDAM) strongly suggests the following labels on raw meat products intended for pet food.
Storage and Handling Information Statements:
- It is recommended that raw frozen meat and/or poultry bear a statement “Keep Frozen” displayed in a prominent manner on the principal display panel.
- It is recommended that raw frozen meat and/or poultry products for animal consumption bear a statement “Handling Guidelines for Safe Use” which include the wording, “Some raw food products may contain bacteria that could cause illness to you or the animals you are feeding, if mishandled. For your protection follow these instructions for safe use:
- Keep Frozen until ready to use
- Thaw in refrigerator or microwave.
- Keep raw meat and poultry separate from other foods.
- Wash working surfaces, utensils (including cutting boards), hands, and any other items that touch or contact raw meat or poultry with hot soapy water.
- Refrigerate leftovers immediately or discard.
Ingredients and Guarantees
- Ingredients must be listed in descending order of predominance by weight using their common or usual names.
- The label can indicate that the product was made with USDA inspected product, but unless the product was made under USDA voluntary inspection (9 CFR Part 355), the label cannot claim that the product is “USDA Inspected”.
- A nutritional adequacy or purpose of product per Model Regulation PF7 must be listed, except when the product is clearly and conspicuously identified on the principal display panel as a “snack” or “treat”. The nutritional adequacy statement must consist of a claim that is substantiated as proved for by the Model Regulation or the statement “This product is intended for intermittent or supplemental feeding only”.
The nutritional adequacy of the product should be substantiated. The FDA has not issued regulations specifying the requirements for substantiating nutritional adequacy of sole source food, but AAFCO has developed Model Regulations for Pet Food and Specialty Pet Food.
FDA Regulation of Pet Food
The FDA’s regulation of pet food is similar to that for other animal feeds. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) requires that pet foods, like human foods, be safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled. In addition, canned pet foods must be processed in conformance with the low acid canned food regulations to ensure the pet food is free of viable microorganisms (see Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 113).
There is no requirement that pet food products have pre-market approval by the FDA. However, FDA ensures that the ingredients used in pet food are safe (non-adulterated) and have an appropriate function in the pet food. Many ingredients such as meat, poultry and grains are considered safe and do not require pre-market approval. Other substances such as sources of minerals, vitamins or other nutrients, flavorings and preservatives, or processing aids may be generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for their intended use. GRAS substances are permitted to be used in pet foods, because of their long history of safe use in foods. (See Title 21 CFR 582 and 584). Additives in pet food must be approved by FDA based on scientific evidence that supports their safety and utility. Regulations that apply specifically to food additives in animal pet foods are published in Title 21, Part 573 of the CFR.
Pet food labeling is regulated at two levels: the federal level and the state level. Many of the FDA labeling regulations are based on a model provided by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). AAFCO provides a mechanism for developing and implementing uniform and equitable laws, regulations, standards and enforcement policies for regulating the manufacture, distribution and sale of animal feeds; resulting in safe, effective, and useful feeds. The discussion of New York State requirements is discussed in the section following.
The current FDA regulations require proper identification of the product, net quantity statement, name, and place of business of the manufacturer or distributor, and a proper listing of all the ingredients in the product in order from most to least, based on weight.
A product clearly identified as a “snack” or “treat” does not require a nutritional adequacy statement, but it must meet the other pet food regulations. Dog biscuits are not exempt unless they are identified as a “snack” or ‘treat”. As long as no risky ingredients (like meats) are manufactured into the snack or treat involved, the producer can use a home kitchen, just as he or she would for baking cookies to be offered for sale at a farmers market.
Dog chews made from rawhide, bone or other animal parts are still considered “food” under FDA law. As long as the label for the chew does not include any reference to nutritional value (like high in protein), it does not have to follow the AAFCO pet food regulations. For products sold in bulk, the required labeling information should appear in a placard on the bin or container.
Please contact the FDA and the AAFCO for specific requirements if drugs or other additives are added, or if specific labeling claims are made.
New York State Regulations
for the Manufacturing and Distribution of Commercial Feed -Including Pet Food:
Products must be labeled.
In New York, there are two labeling options for commercial pet feed. Generic Pet Food labels are required for generic batches of feed. A Customer Formula Feed Label is required if the product is manufactured at the customer’s request.
NY Labeling Requirements for Generic Feed
All commercial feed, except a customer-formula feed, shall be accompanied by a label bearing the following information:
(a) The net weight.
(b) The product name and the brand name
(c) The guaranteed analysis stated in terms determined by commissioner and verified by laboratory analysis by the testing methods published by the Association of Official Analytical Chemists. This needs to include: crude protein, crude fat, crude fiber, minerals, vitamins, and sugars.
(d) The common or usual name of each ingredient used in the manufacture of a commercial feed.
(e) The name and principal mailing address of the manufacturer or the person responsible for distributing the commercial feed.
(f) Adequate directions for use.
(g) Such warning or caution statements as the commissioner by regulation determines are necessary for the safe and effective use of the commercial feed. This is known as the “Statement of Responsibility”.
Each commercial feed item produced or manufactured must have a nutritional analysis including protein, fat, fiber, moisture, and ash content. Analysis of minerals, vitamins, and sugars may also be required. The analysis should be performed by a Feed-Testing Laboratory (there are eight such labs in New York). Nutritional analysis should be reported as a percentage and must be expressed as a “minimum guarantee”. This nutritional information must be included on an approved label. Different batches must be identical in their analysis. Pet treats and snacks, in addition to raw meat, is exempt from this labeling requirement.
If any drugs are used in or on the feed, then
- The word “medicated” must follow the product name.
- The purpose of the drug must be provided in the statement claim.
- The direction for use must be provided (if required).
- A precautionary statement or reference to its location must be provided (if required).
NY Labeling Requirements for Customer-Formula Feed
Customer-formula feed shall be accompanied by a label, invoice, delivery slip or other shipping document, bearing the following information:
(a) Name and address of the manufacturer.
(b) Name and address of the purchaser.
(c) Date of delivery.
(d) The product name and brand name, if any, AND the net weight of each registered commercial feed used in the mixture, AND the net weight of each other ingredient used.
(e) Adequate directions for use for all customer-formula feeds containing drugs and for such other customer-formula feeds as the commissioner may require by regulation as necessary for their safe and effective use.
(f) Such warning or caution statements as the commissioner by regulation determines are necessary for the safe and effective use of the customer-formula feed.
Commercial feed (including pet food) must not be adulterated.
A feed is deemed adulterated if:
1) It bears or contains any poisonous or deleterious substance which may render it injurious to health;
2) It bears or contains any added poisonous, added deleterious or added non-nutritive substance that is unsafe as per the FFDCA definition of “un-safe”.
3) It is or bears or contains any food additive that is unsafe as per the FFDCA definition of “un-safe”.
4) It is a raw agricultural commodity and bears or contains a pesticide chemical that is unsafe per the FFDCA definition of “un-safe”.
5) It is or bears or contains any color additive that is unsafe per the FFDCA definition of “un-safe”.
Note: Products containing tissues from animals that have died other than by slaughter are adulterated under section 402(a) of the FFDCA and are unfit for consumption, unless further processed to remove pathogenic contaminants. FDA regulations state that meat scraps or other similar animal by-products are adulterated when they are found to be contaminated with Salmonella microorganisms (21 CFR 500.35).
Registration, Licensing, Inspection and Record Keeping
In New York State, anyone who manufactures any commercial feed must hold a NYSDAM issued license. The cost of such license is $100.00 and renewal is annual. Manufacturers are subject to inspection in accordance with section 135-A. Any publication or advertisement – published in regards to the sale of commercial feed – must be accompanied by the licensee’s license number. Commercial feed licenses, like other licenses, must be conspicuously displayed.
Anyone who offers for sale, sells, exchanges or barters commercial pet food, including ground meat for animal consumption, is considered a pet food distributor. Every business selling or distributing pet food of any kind must register with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Both the business and every brand and/or variety of commercial pet feed must be registered individually. The biennial business registration fee is $100. Product registration fee is $100 each, with an annual renewal. A license is needed in every state where the product is sold in.
Every manufacturer, distributor and transporter of commercial feed, shall maintain records and submit reports to NYSDAM regarding origin, manufacturing, movements, storage, distribution, and disposition of commercial feed.