Veterinarians should work with the Food and Drug Administration to develop criteria and formalize a system for reporting animal illnesses and deaths with potential connections to feed or pet food, according to recommendations from the National Pet Food Commission.
The Pet Food Institute, which represents manufacturers, established the NPFC in April 2007 to review the recalls of pet food relevant to melamine contamination of ingredients from China. The independent commission included authorities on nutrition, toxicology, veterinary medicine, and quality control. In November, PFI provided the AVMA with a copy of the NPFC suggestions for improving the safety of pet food.
Various recommendations target the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine, Association of American Feed Control Officials along with state feed control agencies, PFI, pet food manufacturers in general, veterinary associations and colleges, and veterinarians in private and public practice.
The NPFC offered several suggestions to the veterinary community in addition to the recommendations for an incident reporting system. The commission encouraged offering educational opportunities for veterinarians and veterinary students regarding interaction of regulators and the pet food industry, requirements for producing pet food, manufacturing processes, nutritional guarantees, and labeling regulations.
Another recommendation is for the veterinary community to establish ongoing communication about pet food, ingredients, and other issues with the pet food industry, PFI, and appropriate professional and trade associations. A suggestion specifically for the American College of Veterinary Nutrition is to develop a model for recording the diet history of all animals visiting veterinarians.
The first suggestion for the FDA is to complete an existing initiative to create a comprehensive Animal Feed Safety System, which would apply to pet food. The NPFC also urged the FDA to develop guidance on the criteria and time frames for companies to report adverse health effects with possible links to pet food.
A key recommendation for AAFCO is to finish model state regulations for feed and feed ingredients.
The NPFC suggested that PFI should develop a model program for safety and quality assurance in the production of pet food—on the basis of best industry practices—that addresses ingredient sourcing and receiving, manufacturing and contract manufacturing, labeling, transportation, and distribution. The NPFC also encouraged PFI to promote the development and use of standard trading rules in contracts for ingredients.
In addition, the commission recommended that PFI should expand education and training initiatives concerning ingredient procurement—with an emphasis on risk analysis for ingredients from domestic and international suppliers. The education could include the role and responsibilities of brokers as well as the role and reliability of certificates of analysis as indicators of ingredient safety and quality.
The NPFC urged manufacturers of pet food to update company-specific programs for quality assurance to incorporate the best industry practices for product safety. The commission recommended that manufacturers should re-examine sampling and testing protocols, employing risk analysis and emerging technologies in evaluating ingredients and pet foods for contaminants.