14 August 2019- The most recent annual meeting of the Association of American Feed Control Officials, a group whose members oversee feed quality in America’s 50 states, took place in Louisville KY last week.

Among other responsibilities, AAFCO plays a part in defining feed ingredients for use in the US, a process which Feedinfo has covered previously.

According to Sue Hays, Executive Director of AAFCO, the association was pleased at the level of engagement this year; the 476 attendees represent a record for this meeting.

Still, she continues to encourage more industry representatives to come and participate. “I keep telling people, I don’t care if you don’t think you have anything there [happening at the meeting that affects your business], you need to come. I can’t tell you if you have anything there,” she maintains. She also notes that many of AAFCO’s most important activities take place through its committee meetings, some of which—including those of the Ingredients Definitions Committee—are teleconferences open for interested parties to dial in to (note that these meetings are not open-mic; they follow an agenda that is available on the website).

Beyond participating in meetings of AAFCO or its committees, Ms. Hays says industry would benefit from engaging with AAFCO’s Ingredient Definitions Committee Investigators (who look into the science behind a new ingredient seeking entry into the AAFCO official publication) earlier in their development process. “It’s in the company’s best interest to begin the [ingredient definition] process as soon as the safety studies are completed,” she believes.

There are two reasons for this. First, because of the length of time the definitions process takes, particularly when involving CVM: “Many times the companies wait until they’re ready to go to market, and then they’re looking at 18-24 months, which is about how long it takes to formulate. If they would start the ingredient definition process when they are formulating, when their safety studies are done, it’s very possible that they would have their definition by the time they’re done formulating,” she suggests.

Second, because the company might discover through engagement with AAFCO that their product already falls within an existing definition, saving them a lengthy engagement with the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM): “In some situations recently, we’ve been able to direct the company to an existing definition so the ingredient doesn’t need to go through the process,” Ms. Hays recounts. “What we’ve had was ingredients coming in from Europe, and they were called something different in Europe. And when the company spoke with our Investigator, they worked out that it [fell under] an existing ingredient definition and no new definition was needed, so the product could move into the US.”

Finally, she also notes news from outside AAFCO which may give heart to those frustrated with the length of time it takes to obtain an ingredient definition or go through another process involving the CVM: FDA’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget proposes a USD 5 million investment for the CVM’s underfunded programs, specifically citing the improvement of review times and elimination of unnecessary burdens in the premarket safety review of animal food. “One of the roadblocks we’ve got here in the States right now is that the ingredients process is extremely slow, and the roadblock is CVM; it’s a staffing issue which is based on funding.” She points out that AAFCO is restricted from pushing for this funding change on behalf of the industry (as AAFCO’s members are state regulators, public officials who can’t lobby the federal government), so those in the industry who want to see ingredients come to market in a shorter time will have to reach out to their representatives themselves.

AAFCO’s incoming president will be participating in a regulatory seminar at Feed Additives Americas in Miami this November. Read more about the agenda of this event and book your tickets today.