On Jan. 4, 2011, former President Barack Obama signed into law one of the most sweeping reforms of the country’s food safety laws since the 1950s – the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The law, which enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress and initial support from the animal food industry, shifted the country’s thinking about food safety for human and animal food from responding to food safety issues to preventing them.
The law provided the Food and Drug Administration with sweeping new authorities and requirements for both the human and animal food industry. Among other provisions, it authorized the FDA to: promulgate new rules for preventive controls, develop performance standards, strengthen its administrative detention rules, provide mandatory recall authority of adulterated products and hire more than 4,000 new field staff.
FSMA impacts all involved in the manufacturing of feed and pet food, from ingredient processors to animal food manufacturers to feed and ingredient importers to the transportation industry – all members of the American Feed Industry Association. As such, AFIA has been heavily involved in providing comments to the FDA on its various rulemaking proposals and working with other feed organizations to better define the costs and benefits of FSMA’s final animal food rule.
The animal food industry is committed to feed and pet food safety. However, AFIA believes this law was a solution in search of a problem, as the benefit to animal food safety is negligible, while the impacts to large and small animal food manufacturers is enormous.
Of serious concern to the industry has been the massive price tag that comes with manufacturers complying with this rule, from retrofitting machinery and the layout of facilities to training staff to interpreting and complying with the law’s many recordkeeping requirements. Some estimates have shown that the cost of the FSMA animal food rule neared $1 billion annually for the collective feed industry, which amounts to more than 2 percent of the industry’s gross revenue, or roughly the industry’s annual net income.
Given the enormous cost to the industry, George Mason University’s Mercatus Center conducted a study on the rule’s benefits to the animal food industry and found that it was near zero. A review of the animal food safety issues documented in the FDA’s Reportable Food Registry backed up this assertion, showing that over the last five years, only a handful of incidences involved the feed industry – representing a miniscule part of the nearly 900 million tons of animal food manufactured in the United States during the time frame.
Although it is still unclear whether Congress will provide sufficient funding authorization to fully implement the law, AFIA has been engaged with the FDA over the past several years to express its concerns with many provisions within the animal food rule, and in several instances, the association has requested the FDA reopen the comment period for FSMA so that stakeholders could weigh in on the requirements that are more geared toward the human food industry, not the animal food industry, and provide reasonable expectations that are targeted toward the needs and abilities of the animal food industry.
AFIA has also been calling upon the FDA to extend its compliance and inspection dates for certain parts of the rule, as guidance from the agency had either not been issued or finalized, which has prevented the industry from having ample time to retrofit facilities and make any necessary adjustments to their operations, as well as train staff and maintain records. Also, the additional time would give the FDA the ability to respond to questions from the industry and train its inspectors on what to look for during inspections, ensuring consistency among inspections across the industry.
Four of FSMA’s seven final rules impact the animal food industry. Learn more about them on this page.