Many people believe that the United States government is too involved in the lives of individuals, invading personal privacy and compromising basic rights on a daily basis. But even if you believe these things to be true, you cannot argue that many “watch dog” agencies and federal regulations serve an important purpose. For example, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) makes sure that the food you eat on a daily basis is made from safe ingredients and made in clean manufacturing facilities. The FDA also plays a role in enforcing regulations that help to uphold quality standards for the production and manufacture of animal feed, including the food you feed your dog.
Pet food products are not as closely related as human food products, but there are certainly some important rules in place. For example, the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) works with the FDA to create pet food nutrient profiles to which every commercial pet food product is compared prior to sale. If the product doesn’t meet AAFCO requirements for “complete and balanced nutrition”, it cannot be sold as a staple diet. So, while many low-quality pet food manufacturers fill their product labels with lofty health claims and pretty pictures of happy pets to distract the consumer from the truth of what’s inside the bag, you only have to look for an AAFCO statement of nutritional adequacy to determine whether or not the product is worth consideration.
Now that you understand the important role the FDA and AAFCO play in regulating the safety and production of pet food products, you can more easily understand how the Trump administration might have a negative impact on your dog’s health and wellbeing in the near future. Prior to his election, Trump published an outline of his economic plan on his website which he called out the “FDA food police” and suggested a reduction in regulations for farm and food production hygiene as well as food temperature regulations, inspection requirements, and other safety measures. Shortly after its release, the fact sheet was removed from Trump’s website and replaced with one that did not contain any mention of the FDA.
But what exactly would a reduction in FDA regulations mean for your dog? Animal feeds and human food products have always been held to different standards, but a reduction in FDA regulations could blur the line between the two. Currently, the FDA has specific requirements for which ingredients and manufacturing processes can be labeled “human-grade”. But what would happen if that definition no longer existed? It would become even more difficult to tell the difference between a high-quality dog food product and one that only pretends to be a quality product.
It is also important to think about the effect reduced FDA regulations could have on product recalls. The current practice goes like this: the FDA tests a pet food product to determine its safety and to make sure that it actually contains all of the ingredients listed on the package. If the FDA finds a problem with the package, the product, or the ingredients, they will issue a recall to let consumers know about the problem. According to an article published by The Daily Beast, nearly half of all FDA-issued pet food recalls between September 2015 and September 2016 were related to listeria or salmonella contamination. These poisoned pet food products had the potential to harm or kill countless dogs – a recall of those dangerous products could very well have saved hundreds, even thousands of lives. If FDA regulations had not been what they are, those life-saving recalls may not have been issued and thousands of pets would have continued eating poisoned pet food products.
No one can predict exactly what the future may hold, but actions like this from the Trump administration give us reason to be nervous. Under the new Trump administration, it will become even more important for dog owners to be cautious when selecting a pet food product for their dogs. The resources on our website will help you learn how to tell good dog food from bad so you can continue to make a smart choice for your dog.