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Latest initiatives discussed at Pet Food Conference

Pet Food Conference presentations cover topics of trade, food safety, labeling claims and third-party certification.

Registrants to the American Feed Industry Assn.'s (AFIA) Pet Food Conference this week during the International Production & Processing Expo in Atlanta, Ga., heard about the latest industry initiatives and discussed such topics as the future of trade, developments in meat and poultry safety, labeling claims and how to prepare for third-party certification.

“The final FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) rule requires pet food manufacturers to consider different aspects than their feed and feed ingredient manufacturer counterparts,” said Leah Wilkinson, AFIA vice president of legislative, regulatory and state affairs. “While the industry is preparing to implement the final rule, we are also looking to future challenges and opportunities in the pet food market.”

Attendees heard the latest on the issues of whole-genome sequencing, labeling, sampling, certifications and trade from industry representatives who included: Dr. Betsy Booren, North American Meat Institute; John Dillard, Olsson, Frank & Weeda; Dr. Maria R.C. de Godoy, University of Illinois; Dr. Daniel McChesney, U.S. Food & Drug Administration; Robert Prevendar, NSF International, and Gina Tumbarello, AFIA.

“In 2015, the U.S. averaged $105 billion in pet care sales,” Jared Koerten of Euromonitor International said during his presentation on domestic and global trends in pet food. “Dog food represents almost half of global sales, and together with cat food, both control 70% of the global pet care market.”

Research updates addressing allergens and pet obesity were also provided.

Dr. Kelly Swanson, professor of animal and nutritional sciences at the University of Illinois, told the audience that information pulled from a study conducted in 2014 showed that “30% of pets were overweight and 28% were obese, which is more than 50% of the pet population.”

Research is ongoing on methods to mitigate this obesity trend.

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