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Government moves to regulate food for animals

NEW YORK — The Food and Drug Administration proposed rules Friday that would govern the production of pet food and farm animal feed for the first time.

The regulation would help prevent food-borne illness in both animals and people, officials at the agency said, as people can become sick from handling contaminated animal food and from touching pets that have eaten it.

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The proposal comes six years after the biggest pet food recall in history, when a Chinese producer contaminated dog and cat food with melamine, causing the deaths of animals across the United States.

The public outcry helped lead to the inclusion of animal food in the Food Safety and Modernization Act, a landmark food safety bill which passed with broad support in 2010 and was the first major overhaul of the FDA’s food safety laws since the 1930s. It gives the agency more control over food imports as well as broad new powers to set standards to prevent contamination of produce and processed food.

The proposal is open for public comment for 120 days. If passed, it would regulate the production of feed for millions of farm animals as well as pet food.

Much like regulations proposed for human food this year, the rules would require makers of animal food sold in the United States to develop a written plan to prevent food-borne illnesses and to put it into effect. Producers would need to install protective procedures at critical times during production.

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