Written by: Leah Wilkinson | July 26, 2022
Twice a year, those interested in the animal food regulatory space make the trek to attend the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) meetings. Sometimes those treks require patience while traveling through blizzards in the winter. Sometimes, it requires fortitude to handle being in business clothes instead of in shorts watching a baseball game during the summer. For both meetings, it requires preparation from all parties to make sure the AAFCO business gets due consideration and discussion. Your American Feed Industry Association staff are there on your behalf and are busy preparing for the upcoming AAFCO annual meeting, happening Aug. 3-6 in St. Louis, Mo.
AAFCO started in 1909, the same year our feed industry association started. In fact, the state regulators and industry met together that first time to discuss the need for harmonization of the laws that govern the interstate movement of commercial feed between states to facilitate commerce. The result was the start of AAFCO and the drafting of a model law and regulations that govern how feed is regulated today by the states. This core function is still in place today with regular deliberations on modifications and updates to the model law and regulations for harmonization and efficient regulatory programs.
At the annual meeting, discussion will be held on topics such as updating the definition of “labeling” of a commercial feed and establishing guidelines for the labeling of pet food as “human grade.”
Another important function of AAFCO is its work defining the ingredients that can be used in animal food products. This decades-old process involves the submission of data and request for a definition for a new animal food ingredient, a safety review by representatives from the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine and a robust committee review and vote on the definition by the AAFCO Ingredient Definitions Committee and full membership. Once approved, these definitions get published in the AAFCO Official Publication, which is printed annually and updated in the online version biannually. This publication is your go-to resource for knowledge of the ingredients approved for use in animal food in the United States.
These meetings also provide an opportunity for networking and education. Two AFIA committees typically meet while at AAFCO – the Feed Regulatory Committee and Ingredient Approval and Definition Committee – to discuss regulatory issues and set association positions and policy. It is also a great venue to meet and interact with fellow feed industry professionals and the state and federal regulators.
While the days at AAFCO are long, I’m very thankful that AAFCO and Major League Baseball lined up their scheduling this time to allow us to partake of America’s pastime at the end of the day. So, if you are in St. Louis and you are trying to find me at the end of the day, you’ll probably need to track me down at Busch Stadium! I look forward to seeing everyone in St. Louis!