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November 01, 2021

AAFCO calls for more research on hemp products in animal food

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The Association of American Feed Control Officials has issued a position paper and call to action on hemp and its byproducts in livestock feed and pet food.

AAFCO provides ingredient definitions, label standards, and laboratory guidance for state, federal, and international regulators of animal food. The association wants to encourage the hemp and animal food industries to gather data on the safety and efficacy of hemp and hemp byproducts proposed as nutritional ingredients. The products to be evaluated include whole hemp plants, hemp seed oil, CBD, and other cannabinoids.

When the data gathering is complete, AAFCO can formally define the ingredients and provide standards for safe pet food and livestock feed.

According to a statement from Susan M. Hays, AAFCO executive director: “We understand the hemp industry is eager to enter the animal food market, but we are concerned that not enough research has been completed on these products. That’s why we are urging the hemp industry to conduct appropriate research and submit their results to us for review as a normal step in our ingredient approval process.”

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The 2018 Farm Bill legalized growing hemp, but animal food ingredients, including hemp products, fall under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration. It is not yet known whether hemp products are safe to feed to all animal species as well as, in the case of food animals, whether it is safe for humans to consume meat, egg, and dairy products from animals that consumed hemp. According to AAFCO, research is needed to address the levels of THC and other cannabinoids in hemp and what effects the content will have on the intended uses and species.

Recently, proponents of hemp in animal food have focused on passing state legislation to allow use of hemp as an ingredient. AAFCO is concerned that bringing hemp products to market through a state-by-state patchwork of laws, without the backing of in-depth research and a formal review process, will lead to inconsistent manufacturing methods, unsupported marketing claims across the country, and restriction of interstate and international markets.

AAFCO encourages state lawmakers to work with key stakeholders such as the FDA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, livestock and dairy associations, consumer advocacy groups, and AAFCO itself within the formal process for review and approval of hemp and its byproducts for animal nutrition. AAFCO can help guide hemp producers through the submission and review process.

Read the AAFCO position paper “Hemp and Hemp Byproducts in Animal Food" (PDF).