Animal feed and pet food: Understanding the US federal and state regulatory framework

July 22, 2020

Collectively, the US animal feed and pet food market is forecast to be worth around USD114.5 billion in 2020.(1) Whether it’s small ‘mom and pop’ stores selling dog and cat treats, or multinational corporations distributing cattle feed, knowing which federal and state pathway to follow is complex. Add to that a lack of a specific regulatory framework for animal supplements, and it’s no wonder that companies struggle to define the most appropriate regulatory strategy for their products.

In this paper, TSG’s Shannon Bryant-Spas, Senior Regulatory Consultant, gives an overview of the US regulatory framework, highlighting the key challenges companies need to overcome.

What does animal feed and pet food encompass?

Animal feed encompasses anything that is fed to, or intended to be added to the food or water for any animal. This includes livestock (dairy and beef cattle, sheep, pigs, horses), poultry (chickens and turkeys), aquaculture, zoo animals, exotic animals, wild animals, pets, specialty pets, and so on.

Pet food and specialty pet food are subsets of animal feed. Pet food encompasses food for companion animals – dogs and cats; specialty pet food covers food for other types of household pets such as parrots, hamsters and snakes.

How are animal feed and pet food regulated in the US?

As with many US regulatory structures, there are both federal and state components to the lawful distribution of pet food and animal feed, hereinafter referred to as ‘food/feed’.

The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is the primary federal agency tasked with regulating food/feed in America.

In addition to federal requirements related to food/feed ingredients and food/feed manufacturing, states have requirements for the labeling and distribution of finished products, which are usually overseen by the State Departments of Agriculture.

This strict regulatory scheme ensures that high quality, safe and nutritionally appropriate foods are available for pets and other animals.


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(1) This figure is an estimate based on two sources. The American Pet Products Association (APPA) estimates the US pet food and treats category to be worth USD38.4 billion in 2020 (Americans’ Pet Spending Reaches Record-Breaking High: $95.7 Billion (2020)
americans-pet-spending-reaches-record-breaking-high-95-7-billion-301012852.html). forecasts the US animal feed market to climb to USD76.1 billion in 2020 (United States Animal Feed Market Report 2019: The Market is Forecast to Reach $83.66 Bn in 2024 (2019)

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