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AAFCO set new guidelines for petfood to be considered ‘Human Grade’

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The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) have introduced new guidelines to ensure accuracy of companies claiming their products to be ‘human-grade’.

For processors and manufacturers that claim their petfood and nutrition products are ‘human-grade’, new standards have been outlined. These guidelines involve meeting the standards set out by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS), Process Verified Program (PVP), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

AAFCO is a US-based organisation that establishes the nutritional standards for complete and balanced petfoods.

‘Human-grade’ petfood is defined as products that are certified safe for human consumption, and must comply with the same regulations. To qualify as ‘human-grade’, the claim must now refer to the product as a whole, and not just individual ingredients. This includes the rest of the process, from sourcing, packaging, to storing, handling and labelling.

Facilities involved in the processing and packaging must now be a registered FDA food and FDA feed facility. The FDA is a regulatory authority, part of their responsibilities include regulating petfood, and they are a governmental body that can regularly audit production and facility operations.

Under new guidelines, the federal agency USDA (in charge of handling inspections of meat, eggs and poultry) must consider the food to be ‘edible’ (for humans).

Properly maintained written procedures and records are now required, and being able to prove all individual ingredients and resulting product once stored, handled, processed and transported comply with ‘human-grade’ standards. 

The label must also comply, and be clear on its intended use. Statements in marketing/labelling regarding the quality or grade of ingredients are no longer allowed.

‘Human-grade’ food requires stricter testing when compared to feed grade (food that is not safe for human consumption but can be fed to livestock and pets), so is often an indicator of quality. However, based on AAFCO current guidelines, raw food doesn’t qualify for ‘human-grade’ status, despite many raw-food options being high quality options for petfood.

This new development in creating ‘human-grade’ guidelines is an example of the effect of pet humanisation, showing the increasing trend of owners treating their pets’ diet with the same scrutiny as their own. 

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