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New FDA proposal to hold animal food producers to basic safety practices for first time

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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is moving to place stricter regulations on pet food and animal feed production that would bring safety controls closer in line with those that govern food for human consumption. Under the proposal, pet food and animal feed manufacturers in the US and abroad would need to "develop a formal plan and put into place procedures to prevent foodborne illness" in order to sell their products in the states, according to a statement released today by the administration.

Additionally, the proposed rules would compel pet food and animal feed producers to follow basic safety protocols known as "Good Manufacturing Practices" for the very first time. These practices were recently overhauled, and include such requirements as setting up a plan for proper sanitation as well as allergen and pathogen control, and insuring that staff has suitable training in these areas. The system is based around comprehensive documentation of every aspect of production rather than sending inspectors in person to give approval, which would be a lengthy and expensive process.

Nevertheless, the rules, if accepted, would provide much tighter regulations on food for pets and animals — the FDA's current regulations only ban adulterants, and the administration carries out investigations after incidents. The proposal comes after 600 pets were killed in the US earlier this year by jerky treats produced in China. The FDA is using the powers it gained under the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010, which overhauled the administration and put a new focus on preventative measures, for the new pet food rules. The rules themselves could come into place in as soon as 180 days, allowing time for public comment and implementation.