Alert: AAFCO Pet Food Committee Votes Against Proposed Copper Claim

June 5, 2024 Jordan Tyler

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) announced June 3 that its Pet Food Committee has voted down a proposal to establish a maximum limit for copper (Cu) in dog food formulations. This comes as the latest in a contentious series of developments regarding the need for and implementation of dietary copper restrictions for dogs.

The story goes back to February 2021, when a group of researchers published an article in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) suggesting AAFCO’s current copper levels exceeded dogs’ biological requirements and, in some cases, are intolerable to dogs. The researchers correlated Cu levels in dog food with a rise in incidences of copper-associated canine hepatopathy (also known as CAH), despite obvious flaws in the study design and misguided extrapolation of data to otherwise healthy dogs.

AAFCO assembled an expert panel to address these suspicions, which determined there was “insufficient data to establish such a limit,” according to AAFCO. However, these experts did — by a slim margin — vote to recommend a voluntary “Controlled Copper” claim, which would establish a “maximum of no more than 15 mg copper/kg DM and no more than 3.75 mg copper/1000 kcal of metabolizable energy,” the association shared.

In response to this recommendation, AAFCO convened a Copper Claim Workgroup to determine whether setting maximum Cu levels would be beneficial to pets and the industry. The Workgroup accepted public commentary on the proposed claim from Feb. 8 to March 1, 2024, before putting it up for a vote by AAFCO’s Pet Food Committee.

The Pet Food Committee ultimately found there was not enough evidence to support a voluntary “Controlled Copper” claim and encouraged the industry to back more research into the topic.

BSM Partners celebrates this decision and recognizes it as a positive step toward ensuring nutritional guidelines and recommendations for pets are aligned with exhaustive scientific evidence. We praise AAFCO’s Pet Food Committee for recommending real research and encouraging industry members to take heed.

Stay tuned for an upcoming episode of The Pet Industry Podcast, through which our team will dive deep into the dietary copper conundrum and announce an industry-leading intervention to set the record straight.

About the author: Jordan Tyler is Director of Media at BSM Partners. She has more than five years of experience reporting on trends, best practices and developments in the North American pet nutrition industry. Tyler resides in Bentonville, Arkansas, with her husband and their four furry family members.

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