The AAFCO and the ingredients for animal nutrition

The Association of American Food Control Officials (AAFCO) is an association formed on a voluntary basis by local, state and federal agencies responsible for regulating the sale and distribution of animal feed and medicine.

The AAFCO has no regulatory authority, instead they have created a forum where the representatives of the members that compose it and the industry so that:

  • They provide a space for the commercial regulations of the animal nutrition industry.
  • They guarantee consumer protection.
  • They protect the health of animals and humans.

These functions are achieved through the development and implementation of laws, regulations, standards, definitions and application policies to regulate the manufacturing, labeling, distribution and sale of food for animal nutrition.It is intended to obtain effective and safe food, promoting uniformity among member organizations.

Thus, the Association of American Food Control Officials has become the meeting place and floor for debate for the regulatory officials in which they contribute their experience in animal science and nutrition, food labeling, field operations for the personnel of inspection and administration of the program. The ultimate goal is to create a model guide to ensure that the regulation of animal feed is as uniform as possible from one state to another.

AAFCO members include not only state and federal US regulatory officials, but also officials from Canada and Costa Rica. The recommendations of the association have become a benchmark worldwide. In addition, products that meet the AAFCO Recommendations include the minimum nutritional requirements that an animal nutrition food must have.

Regulation of ingredients

The AAFCO defines ingredient as one of the components or the main constituent of any mixture or combination that forms a commercial food.
According to the regulations of the Association of American Food Control Officers, all the ingredients used in the preparation of feed for animal nutrition must be listed. It will be made based on the initial weight at the time of manufacturing them in descending order. In this case, the main ingredients will go first and with recognizable names of animals or plants.

Products of animal origin are very common main ingredients that are used in dog and cat foods. Their names cannot be modified, and each ingredient must meet the definition set by the AAFCO.

Meatand poultry by-products are considered raw products, even though they are cooked in the pet food manufacturing process. It is a necessary process to destroy harmful bacteria.
Processed products (meat meal, bone meal, poultry meal and animal by-product meal) are cooked before being used as feed material, with the intention of destroying any harmful bacteria. During processing, heat and pressure remove most of the water and fat, leaving mainly proteins and minerals.

affco cow


The minor ingredients mostly contain minerals, vitamins and other nutrients. You can also find, although in small quantities, preservatives, conditioning agents, emulsifiers, stabilizers and dyes or flavoring agents.

These minor ingredients cannot be grouped into a percentage (such as 1% or 2%). Also, in pet food it is not allowed to use a collective term to replace individual ingredient names for a group term, such as combining wheat, corn and oats in an ingredient name, “grain products”.

As mentioned above, the ingredients used must be those officially defined by the AAFCO, they must be common or usual names of the ingredients of the feed, they must be food additives approved in the Code of Federal Regulations 21 CFR 573 (food additives allowed in feed and drinking water of animals) or be considered GRAS additives (generally recognized as safe) for feed.

Although an ingredient is used in human food, that does not mean that it is acceptable for use in animal feed. It is important to note that if there is a name defined by AAFCO for an ingredient, it must be used in the corresponding ingredient declaration.

Some ingredients defined by the AAFCO and some listed in the Code of Federal Regulations have restrictions due to which they cannot be consumed in full or the amount of ingredient allowed to be used is regulated. Therefore, feed manufacturers must be up to date in choosing the right ingredients since product registration requests can not be accepted if they find ingredients not approved on their label.

In addition, dietary supplements for animals are not allowed. The DSHEA (“Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act of 1994”) does not apply in these cases. Therefore, any substance ingested by animals is classified as a food or medication. Some ingredients used in dietary supplements for humans cannot be used as ingredients in pet food either.

In summary, any animal feed that is marketed must be safe and suitable for each species. The AAFCO has developed a standard called Good Manufacturing Practices for Food and Feed Ingredients. This regulation provides guidance for the production of feed intended for animal feed.

Types of packaging material used in food

In recent decades, packaging and containers have become an essential element in food purchases. The food is packaged and packed with the aim of being transported and stored. That is, not only is it a container, but “the container must protect what it sells and sell what it protects” (Briston-Neill, 1972), taking care of the interactions between food and packaging material.

From the business perspective, the appearance of packaging is particularly important because it identifies the product in the distribution chain and differentiates it when it reaches the consumer.

Next, the most used packaging materials in the food industry are detailed: plastics, glass, metals and wood and its derivatives.


Plastics are organic polymeric materials that can be molded into the desired shape. The lightness and versatility of these have been confirmed over decades in the processing and packaging of food. Plastic containers and packaging protect against the contamination of food and offer adequate mechanical strength.

Due to a lower cost and lower energy consumption during manufacturing, plastics have replaced traditional packaging materials. In addition, they are able to preserve and protect the food for longer, minimizing the use of preservatives.

In relation to the consumer, they are easy to handle and open, and offer an effective surface for printing labels or brands. However, although plastics are recyclable materials, they are pollutants.


It may interest you: Clean Label: facts and trends


In the plastic manufacturing process there are many varieties of plastic resins, with the  most used being:

  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC): very resistant to humidity, fats and gases.
  • Polyethylene and its varieties (PET, HDPE, LDPE). The development of the PET range has revolutionized the packaging industry, allowing plastic to compete directly with glass bottles.
  • Polystyrene (PS) is the plastic of choice for thermoforming due to its strength, malleability and low cost.

Cellulose is a biodegradable substance obtained from the cell wall of many vegetables and fungi. It was the first transparent film that was used in packaging and is currently used for confectionery and pastry products, in situations where vapors need to “breathe” to avoid deforming the product

Polyamides are a type of polymer that can be found in nature such as wool, or synthetically, like nylon. They are used for boiled products in bags, frozen foods, fish, meat, vegetables and processed meat and cheese.

Metals (steel, tin, aluminum)

The main use of these metals is the preservation of canned foods and beverages. The most commonly used are tin-coated steel and aluminum cans. It is an opaque material that provides an advantage for food that is sensitive to light.

Steel and tin

Tin cans are made of steel sheet coated with tin as a measure of protection against corrosion of steel, especially when they contain products with low pH.


Aluminum is increasingly used for canning due to its lightness, low cost and capacity to be recycled. It can be found in packaging, bottle closures and wraps and laminates. It has the same barrier properties as steel but with the advantage of being resistant to corrosion.

Aluminum foil is formed by layers of laminated aluminum. It is a highly flexible product that allows to preserve or protect food in the domestic environment. However, it is difficult to use in modern fast packaging equipment due to wrinkles, rips and marks.

Thin-walled aluminum cans are suitable for carbonated beverages, while wide-walled cans are suitable for steam sterilization. Optionally, internal lacquers can be used to avoid interaction with the product and externally to protect the ink from the labeling.


Glass is an inert material that is impermeable to gases and vapors. It is an excellent and completely neutral oxygen barrier when in contact with food. However, it is a fragile, heavy material that requires a lot of energy to be manufactured.

Glass uses one of the most abundant raw materials on the planet, silica, but it is not renewable. Despite this, it is a recyclable product, since it can be used as a container repeatedly.

More than 75 billion glass containers are used per year in the food industry, being its main use for wines, juices, baby food and soft drinks

Glass containers can be bottles (the most used), jars, glasses, ampoules, jars, etc. However, this material is not used for frozen products due to the risk of breakage.

Wood, cardboard and papers

Products derived from wood are widely used in the packaging of food in the form of paper and cardboard.

Paper is a very cheap, lightweight product with excellent printing capacity. Although it is very sensitive to moisture, it can be corrected with a combination of paper and other materials such as plastic or paraffin.

Cardboard is a material made up of several superimposed layers of paper, making it thicker, harder and more resistant than paper. Its main use is for packaging and containers in the form of boxes.

In recent years, paper and cardboard manufacturers are paying special attention to issues related to health and the environment by working with recycled products that increase the useful life of these raw materials.

Advances in packaging techniques

The evolution of packaging techniques and food preservation, transform the processes of manufacturing, distribution, purchase and preparation of food, for both businesses and consumers.

Technological advances, such as the incorporation of antioxidants in food packaging, increase the shelf life of food. This system is based on the addition of particles to the packaging materials to prevent the oxidation of nutrients. In this case, the antioxidants can be incorporated during the manufacturing process or impregnate the walls of the container before coming into direct contact with the food.


It may interest you: BTSA collaborates in the development of an antioxidant packaging


In short, it is important to choose the appropriate packing and container material for each food to be conserved, taking into account the transport circumstances and storage conditions to which it is going to be subjected.

⬇ Download our ebook and discover the keys to choosing the ideal antioxidant for your product⬇


BTSA launches its new biotechnology blog

Welcome to BTSA’s blog!

We excitedly and enthusiastically announce that we are starting a new path in the field of biotechnology. We have been at the forefront of the field for over 23 years, and we want to continue to innovate, as this has been one of our fundamental company values since our start.

Proof of this is our own business model, in which by employing the most advanced technology we reuse waste oils to develop our natural antioxidants, without generating waste in the process, as the remaining by-products are used in the production of biodiesel. On the other hand, from soybean or sunflower oils, algae and other products, BTSA makes Vitamin E or Omega 3, which in turn are used by other companies in the manufacturing of food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. In this way, we are committed to the environment to generate zero waste, and also to recycle pollutants from the industry.

It’s important to emphasise that our ingredients are natural, and that we know the origin and the steps that the raw materials have made prior to arriving to our facilities. Thanks to our rigorous traceability system, we certify that our products have not been genetically modified.

With more than 20 years of experience, we are a global company with offices in Spain and Mexico, and we have clients in over 40 countries who rely on our products and services, making us one of the main European companies of Natural Antioxidants, Vitamin E Natural and Omega 3.

Another example of our innovation was in the middle of 2004, when we received many negative comments when we created our first web page. “Many said that a company like BTSA did not need it, that nobody was going to look for us on the Internet, that it was only for those who sold directly to the public.” – Ana Ugidos, 2015. However, at present, an important part of our new clients come to us through the website and digital media. Thanks to the innovative vision of Ana Ugidos, CEO of BTSA, our company has been able to differentiate itself in the current competitive environment and obtain the trust of leading food and cosmetic companies worldwide.

To take a trip down memory lane, this was our first website 13 years ago.

Web Histórica BTSA Biotecnologías aplicadas

And this is how we begin the new BTSA Natural blog, in which we will discuss topics related to food, cosmetics and personal care, or animal nutrition. In addition, we will address specific issues such as food safety, additives and their characteristics, market trends, and innovation and development in the field of biotechnology.

This new blog is committed to spread and share our knowledge, guaranteeing the rigor and quality of its content so that it contributes actively to the development of the field, and to show our attitude of active dialogue based on your comments, because your opinions are very important for us.

We invite you to follow along with us, to participate in the debate on our social networks and to be part of this unprecedented movement in the field of biotechnology.