FSMA Covers Pet Food Makers, Too

The Pet Food Institute reminds processors of their food safety obligations under the Food Safety Modernization Act.

By Cathleen Enright, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Pet Food Institute.

Dear U.S. Pet Food and Treat Maker:

Food safety is serious business and your customers – pet owners around the country – expect the products they feed their pets to be safe and nutritious.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has new tools under the sweeping new food safety law, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), to ensure pet food makers meet their obligations. And even though compliance for smaller pet food makers may be a year or two away, every pet food maker should be aware of and preparing to meet their obligations under the FSMA animal food rule.

The three primary FSMA rules for regulating pet food/treats are listed below. The general compliance date for each rule is different, and small businesses (less than 500 employees) and very small businesses (annual food sales less than $2.5 million for Preventive Controls and less than $500,000 for the Foreign Supplier Verification Program) are given an extra year or two years, respectively, to comply with the first two.

  • Preventive Controls for Animal Feed – The general compliance date was September 2016 for cGMPs and September 2017 for preventive controls.
  • Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) – The general compliance date was April.
  • Sanitary Transportation – The general compliance date also was April 2017. Sanitary Transportation rule has no special compliance date for size of business.

FSMA’s animal food rule is a comprehensive set of provisions designed to ensure animal food is safe. A key component of the rule are the supplier verification provisions, which require animal food producers to take steps to ensure the ingredients they source are safe and/or that any hazards in the ingredients have been identified and will be addressed. As we all know, safer ingredients make for a safer finished product.

Of course, the safety of ingredients is a priority for both suppliers and producers. Under FSMA, the responsibility for this must be clear. The Pet Food Institute (PFI) urges you to work closely with your suppliers to ensure you are both doing what’s necessary to make safe, nutritious pet food your customers can trust.

As the national trade association for the U.S. pet food industry, PFI is working to ensure that our members – and pet food and treat makers across the industry – understand and can meet their obligations under FSMA. While PFI members account for 98 percent of all U.S.-made dog and cat food and treat products, it’s imperative that all U.S. pet food and treat makers recognize what is required of them. We encourage you to review the information below and take the necessary steps to ensure your facility is prepared for its compliance deadlines.

If you’re not already familiar with FSMA, you should know what it requires of virtually all pet food makers. And even if you’re making and selling pet food products out of your kitchen, the FSMA provisions are a useful guide to producing safer foods for our four-legged friends.

  • Current Good Manufacturing Practices – The rule includes requirements for employees’ hygiene, facility design, equipment upkeep and maintenance.
  • Preventive Controls – Pet food makers must identify and evaluate hazards associated with the foods they make and take steps to prevent those hazards.
  • Food Safety Plan – Pet food makers must have a written plan of the steps they are taking to ensure product safety, from sourcing ingredients to carrying out a product recall.

PFI is unwavering in its commitment to help dogs and cats live long and healthy lives, which means promoting the highest standards of product safety and quality among all pet food and treat makers. We urge you to know your rights and obligations under FSMA, and to work with your ingredient suppliers, who are very likely also subject to FSMA provisions. One way to do this is to contact the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA), which has an FDA-recognized curriculum.

As PFI’s resident and CEO, my goal with this letter is to raise pet food makers’ awareness about food safety generally and FSMA in particular. If you have any questions or are interested in learning more about PFI, I invite you to visit our website at www.petfoodinstitute.org or contact me at 202-791-9440.

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