Food produced for pets and animals will have to meet new safety standards under a rule proposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The rule would require companies that make animal feed, pet food, pet treats or the raw ingredients used in such products to follow good manufacturing practices. This would include identifying potential hazards and developing procedures to prevent and correct them.
Under the safety standards, producers of jerky treats made in China that are blamed for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. pets will have to meet strict new requirements before their products can be sold.
The rules are part of the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act, which is designed to reduce foodborne illnesses by giving the agency more power to intervene before an outbreak occurs.
“We have been pushing feed safety for a number of years,” Daniel McChesney, director of the office of surveillance and compliance at the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, told NBC News. “It’s not, ‘Oh, we’re just making food for animals.’ They’re the first part of the food chain. We're a part of the overall food industry.”
The FDA has rules that prohibit contaminants in pet food, but until now, companies haven’t had to follow current good manufacturing practices for animal food.
It may be challenging for producers of such products to meet deadlines for compliance, but the agency says times will very according to the size of the company.
The FDA is proposing that the animal-feed and pet-food requirements become effective 60 days after the final rule is published in the Federal Register. Upon publication, there will be a 120-day comment period.
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