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Registration & Licensing

Registration and Licensing of Pet Food and Specialty Pet Food

Most states require animal feed to be regulated by the State Departments of Agriculture. The state will either require registration of labels of products or will require a feed license for the firm that makes the pet food products.

In Texas, for example, small package pet food is registered, and the facility is licensed. In California, a license fee per location and a license fee for each pet food manufacturing facility are required. In Iowa, the label guarantor is licensed and each small pet food package is licensed.

Some states have a two-year license or registration cycle, and some have a one-year license or registration cycle.

Tonnage fees are also assessed for commercial feed and pet food. Each state has their own requirements for tonnage.

A chart of each state's requirements can be found HERE.


What is involved in registering or licensing in the states I will be distributing in?

Click HERE to go to the state page which contains links to the various states and their pet food registration information (if available).

Typically, it involves paying a license fee or a registration application fee. Usually, under the licensing scheme, you may distribute as many products under the same brand as you want to for the fee.

The registration scheme involves a fee for each product, either annually or bi-annually, filling out an application with the company contact information, sending in a list of products to be registered and their labels. After review of the labels for format and content, they will either be approved or not. If you make the requested changes to the non-approved label, usually it will then be accepted. The label submitted to the regulator must be the same label that will be used in the marketplace.

Your company may be sent a Tonnage Report form from the state(s) you are registered or licensed in. Follow the instructions carefully. You may only have to submit a report and may not owe any fees.

What part does FDA, USDA and CVM play in the regulation of pet food?

The FDA has a series of publications that can be accessed at their website:

  1. FDA Veterinarian Newsletter - Ask CVM
  2. Information for Consumers - Marketing a Pet Food Product
  3. Information for Consumers - FDA's Regulation of Pet Food
  4. Information for Consumers - Interpreting Pet Food Labels
  5. Canned Pet Food Using Low Acid Canned Food Regulations
    (CPG Sec. 690.300 Canned Pet Food)
  6. FDA Consumer Magazine (May-June 2001) - Pet Food: The Lowdown on Labels
  7. FDA Talk Paper - Safety Guidance on the Use of Raw Meat for Pet Diets
    (CPG Sec. 690.500 Uncooked Meat for Animal Food)
  8. Information for Consumers - Safe Handling Tips for Pet Foods and Treats
  9. Resources for You (1997) - Selecting Nutritious Pet Foods
  10. Fact Sheet on FDA's New Food Bioterrorism Regulation - Registration of Food Facilities
  11. FDA - Emergency Preparedness & Response
  12. For Consumers - Purchasing Pet Drugs Online - Buyer Beware
  13. CVM is part of FDA - About the Center for Veterinary Medicine
  14. USDA Regulates the Movement of Product Interstate and Import/Export Inspections

More Pet Food Regulation Information:

Click HERE to view a document titled "How Pet Food is Regulated", prepared by David Syverson, Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Click HERE to view a document titled "Questions & Answers Concerning Pet Food Regulations", prepared by David Syverson, Minnesota Department of Agriculture.


The information contained in this website is designed to provide advice to small petfood and treat manufacturers on regulatory requirements and to assist them in the development of proper labeling for these products.

AAFCO has no statutory authority to regulate pet products.

Rather, enforcement of violations is the purview of the state feed control officials, so companies must comply with each state's requirements.  While most states follow AAFCO model regulations, exact language and interpretation may differ between states. While these documents offer guidance that are helpful in the vast majority of states, it is the responsibility of the manufacturer to ensure compliance with individual state requirements.

Did you know?

AAFCO does not regulate, test, approve or certify pet foods in any way.

AAFCO establishes the nutritional standards for complete and balanced pet foods, and it is the pet food company's responsibility to formulate their products according to the appropriate AAFCO standard.

It is the state feed control official's responsibility in regulating pet food to ensure that the laws and rules established for the protection of companion animals and their custodians are complied with so that only unadulterated, correctly and uniformly labeled pet food products are distributed in the marketplace and a structure for orderly commerce.