Written by: Leah Wilkinson | March 16, 2023
It is a joint effort between regulators, industry and stakeholders to do our jobs and achieve the goal of providing safe and nutritious animal food products that help feed the world. It was refreshing to see this reflected by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) at its recent midyear meeting in San Antonio, Texas.
AAFCO is under new leadership with Austin Therrell taking the helm of executive director and Eric Brady of Tennessee, who started as president after the first of the year. Both officials delivered the message several times that AAFCO’s focus is on how it can work better and engage with the AAFCO membership and various stakeholders, such as the American Feed Industry Association. During the AFIA Feed Regulatory Committee meeting, Therrell and Brady spoke about the new AAFCO Strategic Plan for 2023-25 with goals to strengthen state feed programs, improve relationships, increase collaboration and accessibility, enhance involvement and strengthen communication. If you looked closely, you could see those things starting to happen during this AAFCO meeting.
The fact that these AAFCO meetings occur in an open forum demonstrates the connectivity of the feed regulatory community and the animal food industry in the common goal of regulatory compliance and safe animal food.
Seeking harmonization of regulation eases business operations but it also assists regulation and cooperation. For over a decade now, we know that to be successful, we have to work together.
I witnessed this firsthand during the pre-meeting workshop focused on the ingredient review processes, which provided all parties a better understanding of the requirements for a successful ingredient submission and review. AAFCO, the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) and several industry members put significant time and resources into planning the workshop and providing the content for the educational modules. Industry is grateful for the information and will continue to hold conversations with the CVM to expand everyone’s understanding of the requirements for a successful ingredient submission package.
Industry needs workable ingredient review processes and the CVM and AAFCO working together (and hopefully better) is necessary to achieve that.
While the meeting mostly followed the spirit of the theme, “Working Better Together,” it unraveled when it came to discussions regarding labeling. Industry raised significant concerns to proposals requiring lot identifiers on labels and a proposed expansion of the definition of “labeling” to include all promotional materials (including emails and text messages) related to a product, which was not addressed and considered by the work groups and committees. The AFIA will continue to convey our concerns and strive to work with AAFCO to find proper regulatory solutions that work for all parties.
No one person or organization is perfect, but it’s refreshing to know that AAFCO leadership is committed to working together with industry going forward, and we stand ready to do just that, now and for another decade.