Insects as New Pet Food Ingredients?

Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) members are debating the use of certain pet food ingredients and definitions. I'm sure I will get to hear more about this at the semi-annual meeting in August. If they work at their usual pace, we will see actual definitions in a few years. Some of these new definitions include:

1. Hemp

AAFCO has issued guidelines that no hemp-based ingredients have yet been defined or otherwise sanctioned for use in animal feed, which means they are not currently allowed to be used. The FDA considers CBD (cannabidiol) as an unapproved drug (even though it has zero psychogenic effects), therefore any food containing any CBD product could be removed from the market as adulterated. For once, some manufacturers are actually trying to get a product into food that might be beneficial to our pets, but the powers that be say "no". Of course, if FDA sits back and allows products to go un-examined like they allow illegal 4-D meat to be used in pet food, we might actually see this used. However, it would never be allowed to be put on the label, so you'd have no way of knowing if it was actually present.

2. Human food

Blueberries, spinach and other plant products are suitable human and pet food ingredients, according to AAFCO. However, officials have decided that an extract, fraction or pomace (the solid remains of fruit after pressing for juice or oil, contains the skins, pulp, seeds, and stems of the fruit) derived from those ingredients may be materially different in composition, therefore it is no longer the same ingredient.

To allow for use of these plant ingredients, new AAFCO definitions for each ingredient must be established. The only fruit pomaces allowed today under AAFCO definitions are apples and tomatoes. New definitions for other fruit and vegetable pomaces, such as those from pears, blueberries, or cranberries, must be submitted, or the pet food ingredients will remain objectionable to state feed control officials.

Again, we finally have something that might be beneficial to our pets, although fresh fruits and vegetables would be much preferred over the dried remains of degraded fruits and vegetables. However, until the ingredients have an "official" definition, they are not allowed to be used in pet food (even though illegal 4-D meat is allowed).

3. Insects

Due to concern for limited resources in the future, much research is being done to determine whether insects would provide a good protein source to feed our pets. However, committee members decided that new AAFCO definitions would be needed for each insect and type of insect-based ingredient, such as flour, meal or protein concentrate. Personally, I am concerned about the future of our planet and the resources needed to provide high meat diets to our dogs and cats. But I'm also not ready to start feeding crickets and mealworms and other insects to my pets. Sounds like something out of George Orwell's "1984".

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