Dec
3
2003

A ban on supplements and pet foods that contain them was averted in Iowa Nov. 12 when the state’s Department of Agriculture received word from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that the products might be classified as "unapproved drugs of low regulatory priority" under a new policy. Iowa’s Department of Agriculture will, however, require companies to remove unsubstantiated nutritional claims from labels within 12 months and will handle "adulterated" pet food — food with supplements added — on a case-by-case basis, according to state officials.

Iowa published new guidelines in September that prohibited the sale of products with ingredients not approved by the FDA and the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) as of Dec. 1. Supplements fall between "drugs" and "feed" classifications approved by the organizations, and Iowa feed officials questioned the validity of certain health claims, said John Whipple, director of plant management and technical division for Iowa’s Department of Agriculture. Whipple explained, however, that after receiving an FDA letter, his department decided to make "no blanket enforcement on anything at this time."

The National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) has been working with the FDA and AAFCO to find a way to market the products in all states. Bill Bookout, a founder of NASC, is cautiously optimistic about the Iowa decision. "Iowa is one battle in an ongoing process," he said. "The issue remains unresolved nationally."

Supplements can still be sold in Iowa, but new labels cannot contain information with the verbiage "nutritional or dietary supplement." Furthermore, they cannot make any nutritional guarantees or reference nutritional value, and they cannot instruct consumers to add, mix or sprinkle the product in food.

Iowa may be the first of many states to initiate such rules. Over the last two years, AAFCO has urged states to monitor health claims made by supplement companies to prevent false or misleading advertising of products. "AAFCO has a coordinated strategy for ingredients of this nature," said Ben Jones, president. "We focus on those [ingredients] with known safety hazards and are encouraging states to participate in this coordinated effort." The association formed the Enforcement Strategy for Marketed Ingredients in December 2000 to handle such inquiries and has issued warnings about comfrey and kava.

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