ARLINGTON, VA. — The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) is urging the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) to modernize its policy for ingredient reviews, specifically for feed ingredients with environmental and production claims.

The AFIA submitted its formal letter, signed by Louise Calderwood, director of regulatory affairs at AFIA, to the agency on Nov. 17 in response to a federal docket. The letter claims that functional feed ingredients should be regulated as feed, not drugs.

“The FDA is long overdue in allowing US farmers, ranchers and pet owners to access novel animal food products with environmental, production, animal well-being and pre-harvest food safety benefits claims, which is central to improving the health of animals, incentivizing innovation and competing in a global marketplace,” said Constance Cullman, president and chief executive officer of AFIA.

The CVM’s current policy on feed ingredients with environmental and production claims requires that these ingredients be regulated as animal drugs, which leads to a more costly and lengthy review process for producers and prevents such ingredients from coming to market in a timely manner. According to the AFIA, many of its members have products approved in various other countries that they cannot submit for review at the FDA because of the policy’s “narrow” guidelines regarding the ingredients.

According to the association, the current policy places US farmers, animal feed and pet food producers at a disadvantage. Under the CVM’s policy, feed ingredients with the efficacy to reduce methane emissions, like those from cattle, cannot be marketed and sold with emission reduction claims within the United States, however, these ingredients and products can be sold legally in other parts of the world.

“Across continents and animal management systems, animal food ingredients are making their mark by fostering improvements for animal care and environmental protection,” Calderwood wrote. “Unfortunately, US farmers and ranchers, who have long been considered leaders in the adoption of innovative animal husbandry practices, are hampered due to CVM’s narrow definition of what is considered a ‘food’ versus a ‘drug’ when reviewing new animal food products… We encourage the CVM’s support in allowing them to regain their deserved position of global leadership in animal wellness and productivity while mitigating the environmental impacts of food production.”

As well as benefiting producers, an updated policy would also benefit the environment. According to the letter, feed ingredients with environmental claims can play a key role in addressing global climate change.

“If we are serious about helping the United States meet its ambitious 2030 methane reduction goals of 30% below 2020 levels, then these products need to be in the CVM’s review process by 2024, so that they can be approved and make a difference on farms by that deadline,” Cullman said. “The clock is ticking, and the time to fix this issue is now.”

According to the AFIA, the CVM has the authority to change the policy for these ingredients. The association is urging the agency to adopt a more modern, science-based policy, using the food additive petition, the generally recognized as safe (GRAS) program and the Association of American Feed Control Officials’ (AAFCO) ingredient definition.

“The AFIA believes the CVM has the existing statutory authority to regulate animal food ingredients that work within the gastrointestinal tract and provide public and environmental health benefits or promote animal growth, feed efficiency and wellbeing as foods instead of animal drugs, as current policy dictates,” Calderwood wrote. “The AFIA believes the actions requested in this letter are in the interest of animal, public and environmental health and animal wellbeing.”

Read the AFIA’s full letter.

For more regulatory news affecting the pet food market, visit our Regulatory page.