CHAMPAIGN, ILL. — The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recently approved a new standard for human-grade pet food and specialty nutrition products. It's now possible for processors to utilize the AAFCO’s new standard and the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) Process Verified Program (PVP) to validate human grade labeling claims.

This new standards provide an option that should streamline the acceptance of the "human grade" claim and make it easier to substantiate.

The standards recommend how human-grade pet food products should be manufactured in compliance with regulations for ready-to-eat human food products. The USDA’s Livestock and Poultry Program will audit the new standards under its PVP to ensure processors are complying.

AAFCO’s standards span ingredient supply, storage and handling, pet food production, packaging and labeling. Under the standards, the term “human grade” can only be used to describe pet food products as a whole, meaning that every ingredient within the formula must be human grade to be marketed as such. Also, the “human grade” term must now be accompanied by the product’s intended use (i.e., human grade cat treats).

Every ingredient included within a human-grade formula must be properly stored, handled, processed and transported in compliance with 21 CFR part 117 and other human food laws. Under the new standards, processors must keep written records, ensuring that all ingredients are stored, transported and handled in a way that complies with human food laws throughout the entire supply chain for each ingredient.

Regarding production and facility operations, AAFCO’s standards specify that all ingredient, manufacturing, packaging and food-handling facilities must be licensed for human food under the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) or other regulatory authorities.

AAFCO’s new standards also highlight labeling claims that can be made on packaging and used in marketing, websites, brochures and other materials. Under the standards, ingredient statements on product packaging cannot include statements regarding quality or grade, and all uses of the term “human grade” cannot be larger than the product’s intended use on the packaging. The standards also specify that the claim “human grade ingredients” can only be used on packaging if the entire product meets human grade pet food requirements.

Read more on AAFCO’s new human-grade standards and view the association’s human-grade AMS checklist.

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