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FDA Issues Final Rule on Declaration of Color Additives in Animal Feed and Pet Food

Date: Nov 18, 2011

On November 17, 2011, FDA published a final rule amending its regulations regarding the declaration of color additives on animal feed and pet food labels. The rule was first proposed in 2009 as an implementation effort under the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA). The rule will be codified at 21 C.F.R. 501.22(k) and becomes effective on November 18, 2013. These changes bring the animal feed and pet food labeling requirements closer in line with the human food labeling requirements found at 21 C.F.R. 101.22.

Under the new rule, a color additive, or the lake of a color additive, that is subject to certification under FDA regulations (e.g., Red 40, Blue 1 Lake), must be listed by the certified name on the animal feed or pet food label. Manufacturers can also include a common name for the certified color in parentheses following the certified name. Colors that are not subject to certification can be declared as "artificial color," "color added," or "artificial color added." Alternatively, manufacturers can use an equally informative term for colors not subject to certification, which makes it clear to the consumer that a color additive is used in the food. For example, a manufacturer could state "colored with caramel," or "caramel color."

Interestingly, the Federal Register notice of the final rule includes the results of an "informal" FDA survey of current pet food labels. FDA found that only 13 of 68 surveyed labels might be considered out of compliance with the new rule, and only 1 of the 13 possibly non-compliant labels (less than 2% of all labels surveyed) would certainly violate the rule.