Animal & Veterinary

Ingredients & Additives

A feed ingredient is a component part or constituent or any combination/mixture added to and comprising the feed. Feed ingredients might include grains, milling byproducts, added vitamins, minerals, fats/oils, and other nutritional and energy sources. Animal feeds provide a practical outlet for plant and animal byproducts not suitable for human consumption. Legally, under the FFDCA any substance that is added to or is expected to become a component of animal food, either directly or indirectly, must be used in accordance with a food additive regulation unless it is generally recognized as safe for that use (GRAS). Approved food additives are listed in 21 CFR 573 and 579 and a partial listing of substances that are considered GRAS for an intended use are found in 21 CFR 582 and 584.

The Official Publication of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) contains the most complete list of feed ingredients with their definitions. The Official Publication includes the list of approved food additives as well as the list of GRAS substances.  In addition, many of the ingredients in the AAFCO Official Publication are not approved food additives and may not meet the criteria needed to be recognized as GRAS (21 CFR 570.30). Nevertheless, FDA has accepted the listing of certain ingredients (e.g., those used as sources of nutrients, aroma, or taste) in the AAFCO Official Publication for their marketing in interstate commerce, provided there were no apparent safety concerns about the use or composition of the ingredient.


Federal regulations require ingredients be listed on the product label by their common or usual name in descending order of predominance according to weight (21 CFR 501.4). A common or usual name is one that accurately identifies or describes the basic nature of the ingredient (21 CFR 502.5). FDA has recognized the definitions as they appear in the Official Publication of AAFCO as the common or usual name for animal feed ingredients including pet food (Compliance Policy Guide 665.100). There is only one exception to the requirement to list the common or usual name on the label--when the ingredient is part of a collective name. Regulation 21 CFR 501.110 describes the use of collective names. The following are acceptable collective names: animal protein products, forage products, grain products, plant protein products, processed grain byproducts and roughage products. These collective names may be used in the ingredient list for livestock and poultry feeds, but not pet foods.

Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO)

AAFCO is composed of state, federal, and international regulatory officials who are responsible for the enforcement of state laws regulating the safe production and labeling of animal feed, including pet food. FDA and AAFCO work together in the area of feed regulation, particularly in the establishment of definitions to describe new feed ingredients. Each year AAFCO publishes its Official Publication which includes a model feed bill for states to adopt in regulating feed products and a list of accepted feed ingredients. Most states have adopted all or part of the model feed bill and allow feed ingredients listed in the publication to be used in their respective territories. For more information about AAFCO, please see its internet site.

Additional Information

Contact FDA

Center for Veterinary Medicine

Food and Drug Administration

7500 Standish Place, HFV-1

Rockville, MD 20855

Page Last Updated: 07/31/2018
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