National Council of Weights and Measure (NCWM) Proposes New Requirements for Pet Treat Packaging
Nebraska Grain and Feed Association, American Feed Industry Association, and the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) Pet Food Committee (PFC) wish to inform manufacturers of pet treats of a new regulation proposal that may create confusion between industry, state law, and federal law:
NIST Definition 2.37 Pet Treats or Chews – Digestible chews, rawhides, bones, biscuits, antlers or similar type products shall be sold by weight.
The NCWM's new approach to regulating the quantity statement of pet treats or chews listed above may cause issues between feed regulatory programs and their weights and measures colleagues.
Most states adopt a form of the AAFCO Model Bill and Regulations from the AAFCO OP. In this, both Model Regulation (Regulation 3(a) (8)) and Pet Food Regulations (PF2 (3)) require a “quantity statement” on the label. The term “Quantity Statement” is defined as “the net weight (mass), liquid measure or count.” Additionally, in 21 CFR 501.8 (A) the requirements for the “statement of net quantity” allows count, which coincides with AAFCO Model Regulation. Furthermore, the NCWM proposed definition does not define what is considered a “pet” and, therefore, could include something other than a dog, a cat, or a specialty pet.
At a state level, with the proposed changes by NCWM, there may also be a conflict for those states that may adopt similar language from Model Bill, Model Regulation, CFR, and laws or rules referencing Weights and Measures Programs, unless the state chooses not to adopt the new language proposed by NCWM.
When NIST Definition 2.37 is enforced, a precarious dichotomy will arise. While there isn't an issue to meet commercial feed labeling requirements for those companies who only use “net weight” on labeling, it will be an issue for those companies who meet the same commercial feed labeling requirements when stating only by count on labeling. Companies that are compliant with commercial feed labeling requirements could be deemed noncompliant under the new weights and measures regulations and would be assessed penalties. This situation demonstrates a need for harmonization of regulatory language between AAFCO and NCWM.