FDA Regulation of Pet Food
There is no requirement that pet food products have pre-market approval by the FDA. But FDA ensures that the ingredients used in pet food are safe and have an appropriate function in the pet food. Many ingredients such as meat, poultry, and grains are considered safe and do not require pre-market approval. Other substances, such as sources of minerals, vitamins or other nutrients, flavorings, preservatives, or processing aids may be Generally Recognized As Safe for an intended use (21 CFR 582 and 584) or must have approval as food additives (21 CFR 570, 571 and 573). Colorings must have approvals for such use as specified in 21 CFR 70 and be listed in Parts 73, 74, or 81. For more information about pet foods and marketing a pet food, see FDA’s Regulation of Pet Food and Information on Marketing a Pet Food Product.
Pet food labeling is regulated at two levels. The current FDA regulations require proper identification of the product, net quantity statement, name and place of business of the manufacturer or distributor, and proper listing of all the ingredients in the product from most to least, based on weight. Some states also enforce their own labeling regulations. Many of these regulations are based on a model provided by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). For more information about AAFCOExternal Link Disclaimer, please visit its website. For more information about labeling requirements, see Pet Food Labels - General.
FDA also reviews specific claims on pet food, such as “maintains urinary tract health,” “low magnesium,” and “hairball control.” Guidance for collecting data to make a urinary tract health claim is available in Guideline 55 on the CVM portion of the FDA internet site.
CVM DOES NOT recommend one product over another or offer guidance on individual pet health issues that are normally provided by the pet’s veterinarian. Questions regarding your pets' health and/or the specific use of any veterinary drug, pet food, or other product should always be referred to your veterinarian.