To better regulate the fast-growing pet feed[1] market in China, the Chinese government announced detailed rules to strengthen pet feed management with the publication of a set of new pet feed regulations, contained in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) Announcement No. 20 issued earlier this year.[2] Below is a summary of MARA's new regulations, which took effect on June 1, 2018.

Pet Feed Management Rules The Management Rules is the overarching regulation governing pet feed. It applies only to pet dog and pet cat feed, and divides pet feed into the following categories:

  • Pet compound feed, which can be used alone to meet the comprehensive nutritional needs of pets
  • Pet feed additive premix, prepared to meet the needs of pets for nutritional feed additives such as amino acids, vitamins, mineral microelements, enzyme preparations, etc.
  • Other pet feed, prepared for the purpose of rewarding pets, interacting with pets or stimulating pet chewing and biting, etc.

Notably, a feed production license is required for the local production of pet compound feed and pet feed additive premix. Only substances listed on the Catalogue of Feed Raw Materials and Catalogue of Varieties of Feed Additives may be used in the production of pet feed. Import into China of these two types of pet feed is also subject to import registration.[3]

Production Licensing To obtain the feed production license required under the Management Rules, domestic pet feed manufacturers, per se, must comply with the conditions imposed under the Licensing Requirements for Pet Feed Manufacturers. These detailed conditions target organization and personnel, plant layout and facilities, production process and equipment, and quality inspection and management system. The manufacturer must demonstrate compliance with these conditions in the application as well as during the on-site review by the authorities. The requirements for the application dossier are separately provided in two other regulations issued together with MARA Announcement No. 20.

Labeling and Hygiene The Pet Feed Labeling Regulation lays down extensive requirements for pet feed labeling, including product names, ingredient declaration, etc. Notably, it contains detailed requirements for making permitted claims on the label, including component claims, functional claims, and characteristics claims. Description or promotion on the prevention or treatment of pet diseases is prohibited.

The Pet Feed Hygiene Regulation is significant in that all pet feed for direct consumption by pet dogs and pet cats manufactured and sold in China, including imported pet feed, must comply with the hygiene parameters contained therein. These hygiene parameters include those on inorganic contaminants and nitrogenous compounds, mycotoxins, etc.

Implementation - Grace Periods

MARA Announcement No. 20 also specifies the grace periods for transitioning to the new pet feed regulatory regime. For example, manufacturers of pet compound feed and pet feed additive premix that have obtained the feed production license before June 1, 2018, may continue to engage in the production activities within the validity period of the current production license. After that, they must obtain the production license in accordance with the new regulations. Those that were already engaged in the production of pet compound feed and pet feed additive premix before the release of MARA Announcement No. 20, but have not obtained the feed production license, must obtain the feed production license before September 1, 2019. In addition, labels of pet feed manufactured after September 1, 2019 must comply with the Labeling Regulation, and pet feed manufactured after January 1, 2019, must comply with the Hygiene Regulation.

Industry should be mindful of these new regulations and make sure that the pet feed they manufacture or import into China fully comply with the requirements thereunder after the applicable grace periods expire.