The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) in January unveiled its Online Database of Ingredients, a tool that pet food and feed processors can use to determine the correct nomenclature for labeling products, creating custom ingredient lists and maintaining specific lists for regulatory purposes state-by-state.

Since 1934, AAFCO has annually published what it calls the Official Publication (OP), a thick book containing hundreds of ingredients used in feed and pet food that are recommended for approval by state regulators. To bring the document into the 21st century, AAFCO members and industry experts created the Online Database of Ingredients (ODI), nicknamed “Oh-Dee,” which is essentially a digital version of the OP hosted on the AAFCO Feed Basic Informational Network (BIN).  

The concept for the ODI started three or four years ago, but Susan Hays, executive director of AAFCO, says it was initially a challenge to determine how all the information would be transferred efficiently and comprehensively into an online database.

“Then we had a member in Minnesota, who used to own several software companies and he is now working for the state of Minnesota, and he built himself an Excel spreadsheet,” Hays explains. “He linked the ingredients from his Excel spreadsheet into the online OP, and his list… became our master list for what’s in the ODI.”

Inside the ODI, users can create custom ingredient lists based on unique product labels. They can determine the correct, approved nomenclature using the ingredient information and save lists for each product so processors can maintain and easily update labels. This also makes it easier for processors to register products state-by-state with regulatory officials.

“You can build your list of ingredients that your firm uses and maintain a database or a repository of the labels for your company,” Hays says. “You only have to do this once, instead of doing it once every time you register in a state, which could be 50 times.”

Hays says the ODI will help streamline the labeling process because when a company uploads an ingredient list, the software will catch redundant ingredients. The label reviewer can then determine if an incorrect ingredient name is used or if what appears to be redundant is, in fact, a duplication and remove it from the ODI list.

“It will result in better quality labels for consumers as well as for the regulatory arena, and this will really streamline the label review process for companies,” Hays adds. “It helps align the nomenclature that’s used in a company, in the industry, with the regulatory world, and with labeling.”

It will also make product development easier, says Hays, because processors can quickly access the ODI to determine which ingredients are approved and exactly what they are called. “It’s a huge time-saver and we think it’s really going to help the quality of the labels improve,” she adds.

The ODI is only available to members who have subscribed to the Official Publication (OP) and access to the online OP. All online OP subscribers will have free access to the ODI this year. It is operational on any internet browser.

AAFCO is a voluntary membership association of local, state and federal agencies charged by law to regulate the sale and distribution of animal feeds and animal drug remedies.

Read more about product development, ingredients and formulation.