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Who is in Charge of Regulating and Recalling Dog Food?

When you take a dog into your home either as a puppy from the breeder or as an older rescue, the most important thing to you probably is to make sure that he or she lives a healthy, safe and happy life. As a pet parent, you're constantly trying to achieve these goals. Sometimes it means taking her on a long walk in the pouring rain to make sure she gets her exercise, while other times it can mean staying up late and rushing him to the animal hospital when he's sick.

Although these examples of dog loving and devotion aren't daily actions, pet parents try to make healthy, nutritious decisions for their dog every day when they decide what to feed him or her.

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But for people who want their dog to have the best food that offers the most proteins and healthiest carbohydrates, it can come down to a lot of time at the pet store, supermarket or dog food supplier reading labels. Make sure that the dog label isn't falsely advertising the product and truly has what it says it does. But how do you know that those kibble or chunks of food have the nutrition that it says on the back of the bag, can or box? Who regulates dog food? Who implements recalls?

The simplest answer to "Who regulates dog food?" is that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does, just like with human food. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, originally passed in 1938, now requires that all pet food manufacturers make food that can be eaten safely, was manufactured in a sanitary process, has an honest label and is without harmful ingredients.
Although the FDA has the legal weight of the FFDCA behind it to enforce these rules, there are two other organizations that play a large role in the labeling and regulation process: The Association of American Feed Control Officials and the Pet Food Institute. The PFI is an organization that's made up of pet food manufacturers and works to "maintain the highest standards of product integrity, safety and quality control," according to its mission statement.

The AAFCO has no power to regulate. The organization simply creates nutritional standards for dog food that the manufacturers can adhere to. It's up to the FDA and individual state inspectors to ensure that the labeling is correct. So, if the AAFCO said that x amount of protein should be in a bag of dog food, it wouldn't be able to enforce it, but if a dog food claimed to have x amount of protein in compliance with the AAFCO's nutritional standards, other agencies would regulate that label. The AAFCO provides the industry and FDA with a model.

Dog food recalls are conducted by either the FDA or the manufacturer. There are three types: the manufacturer may recall the food because it realized that it has been contaminated, the manufacturer may recall its food because the FDA asked it to, or the FDA can issue a recall under its own authority without the permission of the manufacturer. A recall is usually issued after a foreign ingredient is found or the food is discovered to be tainted with a bacteria like salmonella.

Although food is regulated, many toys or treats may not be. In certain circumstances, however, the FDA does step in, like in 2013 when the administration addressed the more than 500 deaths tied to Chinese-made jerky treats. The FDA is testing the treats to find out the problem and asking people to watch their dogs if they eat the jerky, report any issues and seek veterinary help.
Recalls are posted by a variety of sources on the Internet, including the FDA as well as many veterinary sites like the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Actions pet parents can take
The best way that people can help their dogs when it comes to recalls is to keep an eye on the recall postings, the Humane Society of the United States advised. People should check the postings and, if they spot their brand on there, stop feeding it to their furry family member immediately. If he already consumed the food, the society recommended pet parents contact their veterinarians even if the dog doesn't show symptoms. Owners should also contact the food company. Keep important information from every bag of food, such as lot number and expiration date. Some recalls don't occur until after the food has been in circulation for several weeks or even months.

If your dog has experienced a poisoning or illness because of tainted food, be sure to report that to the FDA in order to save other dogs from the same fate. If you suspect that there might be a poisoning because of vomiting, diarrhea or lack of appetite, contact your veterinarian or a poison help line like the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' help line at (888) 426-4435.
Keep these tips in mind to help keep your pup eating safely. Always be aware of mislabeled food products or expired food. Take action and contact the resources mentioned if you're wary of a bag of dog food.


This helpful blog post is just one of thousands of articles included in the Voyce Experience. Written by pet-health experts and veterinarians, the articles that comprise the Voyce member portal round out the complete health and wellness experience of our revolutionary technology. To be the best pet parent you can be, purchase Voyce now.