Pet food production
Whereas the market for pet food used to be quite manageable, today a much broader range of products is in demand. This is mainly due to the changed position of pets in society and the increased awareness of pet owners for the nutrition of their animals.
If you want to produce and market a pet food, you initially face a multitude of legal requirements and it is often difficult to know how to get started.
To help you get started, we have put together an information sheet with explanations, the most important regulations and a checklist for you. You can find this at the end of this page under Downloads.
Before the start of production of pet food
In order to be able to distribute (market) feed for pets, the first step is to register your activity with the Federal Office for Food Safety (BAES). In terms of feed law, this is a registration in accordance with the Feed Hygiene Ordinance. If you use meat or animal by-products in your products, you must also register with the veterinary authority responsible for you (official veterinarian).
While the notification to the BAES is a formal act (description of your activity in a pre-prepared form; thereafter, you will receive a fee estimate based on your information and will be subject to the control of the BAES), the official veterinarian will inspect your premises on site and, if the requirements for animal by-products are met, will issue an operating license. After these formal legal points, nothing more stands in the way of the actual production.
As a feed producer, however, you are required to follow the principles of the HACCP concept (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) during production. This requires you to look in advance at the individual production steps your product goes through and consider where there may be potential risks of contamination (e.g. with salmonella or chemicals), how you can identify these and what measures you will take if the worst comes to the worst.
Ongoing controls on pet food production
Another important point is the self-monitoring of products and raw materials (analyses for undesirable substances, such as heavy metals), which you are legally obliged to carry out on a regular basis. It should be noted here that the analysis parameters are highly dependent on the matrix in question. It is known that especially in the field of chewing articles (e.g. pig ears, dried meat pieces etc.) contaminations with Salmonella and Enterobacteriaceae occur increasingly and here microbiological examinations are important. The examination of at least these two groups of germs is mandatory for the production of products from or with animal by-products. In the case of plant components, on the other hand, analyses for pesticides, mycotoxins, heavy metals or botanical contaminants are often relevant.
Proper labeling must be ensured for the finished product, as there are clear legal regulations and criteria that must be met for this as well.
As a feed manufacturer, you are subject to regular inspections by the Federal Office and - if meat and animal by-products are processed - by the official veterinarian. Therefore, in the event of an inspection, you should be able to demonstrate the above-mentioned self-monitoring and correct labeling in order to avoid complaints.
Important legal texts (no claim to completeness)
EU-wide valid legal texts:
- VO(EG) 178/2002 (General principles/requirements for food-incl. feed)
- VO(EG) 1069/2009 (Regulation on animal by-products)
- VO(EU) 749/2011 (Hygiene rules for animal by-products)
- VO(EU) 68/2013 (Catalogue of straight feeding stuffs)
- Directive 2002/32/EC (Undesirable substances)
- Regulation (EC) 767/2009 (Labelling of feed)
- VO(EU) 2020/354 (dietetic feed)
- RL 82/475/EEC (Category Labelling for Petfood)
- VO(EC) 999/2001(BSE/TSE)
- VO(EG) 396/2005 (pesticides)
- VO(EG) 1831/2003 (additives)
- VO(EG) 183/2005 (feed hygiene)
In addition in Austria:
- FeedstuffsAct 1999 as amended from time to time
- Feed Regulation 2010 in the respective valid version
The above-mentioned EU legal texts can be found, in their consolidated form, here.
The Austrian legal texts listed above can be found here.
Information and data sheets for notification to the BAES can be found here.
Your personal checklist to start making pet food:
- Notification or registration as a feed business with the Federal Office for Food Safety (BAES) on:
- Notification to the competent veterinary authority (magistrate or official veterinarian of the competent BH, if you use meat or animal by-products) on:
- The following production steps/sites could be entry points for contamination in my business (hazard analysis as an essential part of the HACCP principles):
- I would take the following steps in case of contamination:
- Which products do I use, where are the specific risks and which self-controls could be useful:
- My labels comply with the legal requirements
We wish you good luck in the production of your pet food!
Last updated: 20.01.2022