Proposed Changes to Pet Food Treat Labels Could Cause Problems for Businesses
The National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM) has developed a proposed regulation for pet treats that may create confusion between industry, state, and federal law.The National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM), an association of state and local weights and measures officials, federal agencies and others, has developed a proposed regulation for pet treats that may create confusion between industry, state, and federal law.
The NCWM, which serves as the interface between the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and manufacturers and retailers, is proposing a regulatory definition that all pet treats or chews – i.e., rawhides, bones, biscuits, antlers or similar type products - shall be sold by weight.
This proposal of regulating the quantity statement of pet treats or chews may cause issues between state feed regulatory programs and their weights and measures colleagues. Furthermore, the NCWM's proposed definition does not define what is considered a “pet” and, therefore, could include something other than a dog, cat or a specialty pet.
Most states already adopt a form of the Association of American Feed Control Officials' Model Bill from the AAFCO Official Publication for the regulation of animal food. The AAFCO Model Regulation and Pet Food Regulations require a “quantity statement” on the label. The term “quantity statement” is defined as: “the net weight, liquid measure or count.” In addition, the federal requirements for the “statement of net quantity” allows count, which coincides with AAFCO.
With the proposed changes by NCWM, there may be a conflict at the state level for those states that adopt language similar to AAFCO or federal regulations and laws or rules referencing Weights and Measures Programs, unless the state chooses not to adopt the new language proposed by the NCWM.
If the new definition requiring net weight labels on all pet treats and chews is adopted and enforced, it will be an issue for those companies that meet the same commercial feed labeling requirements only by count on labeling. Companies that are currently 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 the regulatory language between AAFCO and NCWM.
The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), AAFCO, and the Pet Food Institute are communicating with the NCWM on why this new definition and requirement is not consistent with current feed and pet food labeling practices by states or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and how it will negatively impact pet food manufacturers if these changes are made. The NCWM will consider this matter at their upcoming meeting in July.
NEGFA members that will be impacted by this proposal are encouraged to communicate with NCWM at:
1135 M Street, Suite 110
Lincoln, NE 68508
Phone: (402) 434-4880