FDA seeks upgraded standards for animal-food manufacturing

Proposal borrows concepts from human-food manufacturing

Published: December 02, 2013
By Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM

Aiming to diminish health risks to people and animals caused by contaminated livestock feed and pet food, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing to extend to the animal-food arena some safe-manufacturing approaches used for human food.

Among the proposed changes are the institution of Current Good Manufacturing Processes (CGMPs) and a requirement that facilities producing animal food complete hazard analyses and preventive controls.

In a description of the proposal, the FDA says the rule specifically would establish requirements for: a written food safety plan; hazard analysis; preventive controls for hazards that are reasonably likely to occur; recall plan for animal food with a hazard that is reasonably likely to occur; monitoring; corrective actions; verification; and associated records.  

Proposed CGMPs cover hygiene and personnel training, facility operations and sanitation, equipment, manufacturing processes, and warehouse storage and distribution.

CGMPs and hazard analyses have been required for decades by the FDA for facilities manufacturing human food. By contrast, regulation of animal feed largely has been focused on specific safety questions, such as contamination by drugs or diseased tissue — such as with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad cow disease.  

An FDA review of the U.S. animal food safety system identified gaps in the regulation of non-medicated animal food. The agency says these gaps include a lack of federal regulations for baseline standards for animal-food manufacturing, and a lack of regulation of risk management in these facilities.

Contamination by food-borne pathogens such as Salmonella is a common cause of pet food recalls.

The goal of the proposed changes is to reduce the risk of nutritional imbalances in animals as well as the risk of food-borne illness in animals and in people who handle contaminated pet food. The rule would apply to domestic and imported foods alike.

The FDA calls the proposed preventive controls “science and risk based,” in that they are aimed at preventing likely risks within an individual facility and manufacturing process. Exceptions or modifications may be granted to facilities deemed to be at low risk for specific issues in question.

The rule changes are among regulations developed under the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act. The full rule is posted online. 

The FDA is accepting public comments through February 26. The agency aired the proposal at public meetings last month in College Park, Md., and Chicago. The last in the series of meetings on the topic is scheduled Friday in Sacramento, Calif.

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