Dietary Supplements and Animals

By Grassie, Linda | FDA Consumer, July-August 2002 | Go to article overview

Dietary Supplements and Animals


Grassie, Linda, FDA Consumer


Dietary supplements for pets and other animals have been marketed for many years; some are sold legally and others are not.

Dietary supplements for animals, such as most vitamin and mineral products, are considered animal feeds. Ensuring that animal feeds are safe and properly labeled--a requirement of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act--is part of the responsibilities of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM).

Foods for animals do not require FDA approval before they are marketed, but they must be made with ingredients that meet at least one of the two following requirements:

* be approved food additives, or

* be substances that are "generally recognized as safe" (GILAS) for their intended use.

However, on a case-by-case basis, CVM has exercised enforcement discretion for substances that do not raise any safety concerns, often because the company has submitted the information needed to list the ingredient in the AAFCO Official Publication. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) includes officials from all the states, the U.S. federal government, Canada, and Costa Rica. These officials are responsible for enforcing the laws regulating the production, labeling, distribution, or sale of animal feeds. CVM often works with AAFCO in regulating animal feeds.

Some foods and other products containing dietary supplements for animals, such as St. John's wort, do not meet any of the requirements. And some "dietary supplement" products are being marketed to treat or prevent disease--for example, chondroitin sulfate to treat arthritis. This moves a product from the supplement category into the drug category. CVM officials, who also regulate animal drugs, are concerned that these products have not been shown to be safe and effective. And, some owners may be using these products instead of getting appropriate veterinary treatment for their animals. …

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