Under Regulation (EC) No 767/2009, the indication of the specific name of the feed material may be replaced by the name of the category to which the feed materials belong. In such cases an appropriate means of communication (such as a free phone number) must be indicated to allow the purchaser to obtain information in addition to the mandatory particulars of the feed materials and feed additives contained in the pet food.
This rule leaves manufacturers too much room for manoeuvre, and may indeed often lead to consumers being misled. Taking into account, for example, the short digestive system of dogs, it is important that feedstuffs which enter their bodies are easily digestible. Unfortunately in many cases, as the packaging only has to show the category, the purchaser does not know whether the indicated quantity of protein is of animal origin, which is appropriate for them, of plant origin, which leaves the dog's system without being used, or is possibly even made up of soya, which can actually be harmful to the dog. Commercial practices of this nature are often deceptive to consumers and in the long term can even be dangerous to animal health, and so they call for further legislation.
Does the Commission intend to initiate the enactment of independent, detailed legislation on the composition and labelling of pet food, taking into account first and foremost the health of animals?
Commission Directive 82/475/EEC establishes the categories of feed materials to be used for pet food labelling according to Article 17(2c) of Regulation (EC) No 767/2009. This category of labelling does not allow materials of both plant and animal origin to be included within the same category. Furthermore, the pet food labelling as laid down in the regulation establishes detailed provisions enabling the customer to make an informed choice about the composition of the pet food. The legal minimum standards are supplemented by the ‘Code for good labelling practice of pet food’. Thus, if pet owners wish to buy feed with a high percentage of specific animal products, the label can assist them to make a more informed choice.
More generally, Article 4 of Regulation (EC) No 767/2009 requires all pet food placed on the European Union market to be safe for animals and to not have adverse effects on animal welfare. Even though cats and dogs are carnivores, an increasing number of pet owners demand vegetarian pet food for their cats or dogs. The Commission is not aware of negative animal health impacts of pet food that does not contain meat and/or other animal derivatives. Against this background, the Commission does not intend to revise the compositional labelling of pet food.