facing the big dogs

FDA asks our association to weigh in on the new proposed pet food safety rules

UPDATE: I have no association with Susan Thixton of Truth About Pet Food, either personally of professionally, or the Association for Truth in Pet Food.

Yesterday Susan Thixton and I were honored to be asked by Dr. Daniel McChesney, director of the Office of Surveillance and Compliance at FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, on behalf of the Association for Truth in Pet Food, to attend a telephone conference held for stakeholders to address the FDA new proposed animal feed requirements under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).


For the first time in history, the FDA has written proposed rules to regulate the safety of animal food much in the same way that they regulate human food.

And it is the first time in history they asked pet food safety advocates for their input. These two ‘firsts’ are a hopeful signal that the FDA is moving in the right direction. We don’t expect miracles, but at least we are being asked to sit at the table with the policymakers at FDA. And I am pleased to say that our comments were heard, understood, and appreciated.

On a personal note, it is amazing to me that one of the most important offices in the government told me that my comments were valuable and will be taken under consideration. It was a ‘pinch me, am I dreaming’ moment for a pet food safety advocate.

A noble goal

For the first time, the FDA is proposing a new set of protections for the production of animal foods, including the food pet parents give their companion animals and feed that farmers give their livestock. The goal: To keep all animal foods from being contaminated.

The proposal is one of seven key pillars of the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act, an initiative designed to improve human and animal food safety and reduce foodborne illnesses by giving the FDA greater power to intervene before an outbreak occurs.

Dr. Dan explains

Dr. Daniel McChesney explains that this rule proposes establishing a whole new set of protections for animal foods. Currently, the agency primarily gets involved when there is evidence after the contaminated animal food product is already on the market.

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,” said Daniel McChesney, director of the Office of Surveillance and Compliance at FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.

Industry frets

Not surprisingly, industry is in an uproar over the proposed rules and will, no doubt, fight tooth and nail to protect the shoddy status quo. “These rules will have a major impact on our members,” fretted Richard Sellers, vice president of feed regulation and nutrition with the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), who also spoke on behalf of the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA).

You have a voice

Susan and I are simply representatives of pet food consumers, and while we do our darndest to have your voice heard, it is important that they hear from consumers as well. Once the proposed rules are published in the Federal Register on Monday, you can comment on them, because we know the industry will. As the AFIA and the NGFA have said, they will leave “extensive public comments” on the rules and we need you to add your voice to the comments. The proposed rule will be published on Oct. 29 in the Federal Register and there will be a 120-day comment period. I urge you to use this valuable opportunity to have your voice heard.


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Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, the author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and consumer advisor. Help support her work by making a donation today.

Comments (6) Write a comment

  1. At last! These wonderful sentient beings who contribute so much to our lives and to those in need physically, psychologically and emotionally may finally be protected!

    I’ve fostered many breeds over the last ten years and believe there need to be some restrictions and testing on ingredients in dog foods.

    I’d also like to see some warnings printed on bags of dog food about potential allergy problems related to grains. I’ve seen too many dogs with horrible skin problems related to grain allergies! And, too many vets who throw drugs at the dogs but never recommend changing the food.


    • That is my reason for living. There are many things that need fixing, but I am happy to say that we are, at last, being taken seriously. I am reading the proposed rules now (400+ pages) and we will give you an analysis of what it might mean for pet parents and how they can be part of the dialog with the FDA.

      I agree about allergens, protein and drug allergies. That is one of my main causes. I feel they should be treated in the same manner as human foods – labeling wise. I have already brought up this topic with the FDA and they look forward to my official comments in the Federal Register. Another heavy-hitter in the food safety world said the same thing to the FDA – so I think we made our points and they are taking them seriously. Or at the very least they are taking them into consideration. All comments will be responded to by the FDA once the 120 days are up.

      Stay tuned!


  2. Congratulations, Mollie! This is a HUGE step in communication with the big guns…to help make changes in policy. An uphill battle to be sure, with the pet food and animal feed regulations being so dismal. The FDA is now also concerned with food safety as it pertains to food-borne illnesses.
    They don’t want a Mad Cow running through the streets.
    And pet parents want to keep their furry companions healthy. It’s a win-win situation.
    Your mom is proud of you!


  3. It sounds good. Hope it is not all smoke and mirrors. Hope Canada follows with our CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) that didn’t give a >>>> when I tried to enquire, report and/or have a test done on dry dog food. Canada also does not have any regulations to inspect and otherwise protect our pet animals. Often and I suspect we get the leftover when it comes to imports of feed similar to other commodities Canada gets. True FACT.


    • Canada in still the wild West (wild North, actually) when it comes to food regs. I feel so sorry for you guys. My heart breaks for you. The FDA does want to hear about international reports regarding the treats though (I believe – I can’t remember offhand – I will check). About “leftovers”, I know that the largest global retailer specifically requests the pet food that did not meet factory specs in terms of protein and buys it at a steep discount and sells it all over the world for a tidier profit. The scumbags.



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