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Food & Drug Protection Division

Commercial Animal Feed and Pet Food Program

I want to start a pet food/treat bakery or business. Now what?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates cat food, dog food and treats. (See FDA overview) The FDA's regulation of pet food is similar to that for other animal feeds. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) requires that pet foods, like human foods, be pure and wholesome, safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled. In addition, canned pet foods must be processed in conformance with the low acid canned food regulations to ensure the pet food is free of viable microorganisms (see Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 113). More from FDA regarding the manufacturing of pet foods.

FDA information on marketing a pet food product

There is no requirement that pet food products have premarket approval by FDA. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act does require that pet foods, like human foods, be pure and wholesome, contain no harmful or deleterious substances, and be truthfully labeled. Canned pet foods must be processed in conformance with low acid canned food (LACF) regulations designed to ensure that the finished product is free of any viable microorganisms. Producers must file acceptable processing methods with the Agency. These LACF regulations are listed in Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 113. ...

FDA information on interpreting pet food labels and other special use foods

Snacks and treats for pets are implicitly intended to be offered on an occasional basis, and by no means should be fed as the mainstay of the diet. Although pet treats must meet all the other FDA and state regulations for labeling of pet foods, they are exempt from the need to include an AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement. "Biscuits" are not exempt, unless they are identified as a "snack" or "treat" as well. Regardless, some treats and biscuits are formulated to be nutritionally complete, and some are not. ...

Other steps in creating a business:

File for a tax number

There are several types of tax numbers. If a business is planning to have sales, a Sales & Use Tax number (AS/RP1 form) is required. Businesses having employees are required to obtain a Federal Employer Identification number (SS-4 form) along with a N.C. withholding tax number. The N.C. Business License Information Office can provide application forms to businesses for these numbers.

Register business name

The type of business structure determines where a business name (assumed name) should be registered. A Certificate of Assumed Name for sole proprietorships and partnerships must be filed with the Register of Deeds in the county or counties where businesses plan to operate. Corporations or Limited Liability Companies must register their business names with the N.C. Secretary of State, Corporations Division.

Food product labels

All food products in package form must conform to required label information that includes product name, net weight, ingredient listing, manufacturer/distributor name and address, and nutrition information. Some food product labels may also be required to bear product coding and other statements related to product storage. Food product labels that do not conform to all required labeling regulations may be deemed misbranded.

N.C. residents needing assistance in developing feed nutrition labels may contact the NCDA & CS Food and Drug Protection Division, Feed section at (919) 733-7366.

Apply for a UPC Code

Many retailers now require a Uniform Product Code (UPC) for each product they carry. A UPC code allows automated checkout stands to read the name of the manufacturer and the specific product from the bar code.

The Uniform Code Council, Inc. (UCC) is the central management and information center for manufacturers, distributors and retailers participating in the UPC system. This organization is not a government agency. It is an administrative council which exists specifically to develop standard product and shipping container codes, control the issuing of company identification codes, provide detailed information and to coordinate the efforts of all participants. Although membership in the UCC is voluntary, it is required to obtain a UPC identification number.

Uniform Code Council, Inc.
Suite 300
7887 Washington Village Dr.
Dayton, OH 45459
(937) 435-3870

Marketing assistance

Create your own free Web page at the NCDA&CS General Store. The General Store is a one stop directory for finding North Carolina Agricultural goods and services.

Goodness Grows in North Carolina (GGINC) is an identification and promotional program designed to heighten awareness about North Carolina agriculture and boost sales by helping consumers, retailers, and wholesalers to easily identify top-quality products that are grown, processed, or manufactured in our state. To find out more, go to the GGINC Web site.

Other resources

NC State Food Science Department's Guide for Small Food Processors in North Carolina

Business Link North Carolina
Office of Business & Entrepreneurial Services

N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Marketing Division Agribusiness Development Office

FDA Good Manufacturing Practices Guidelines

Blue Ridge Food Ventures - a full-scale commercial kitchen operation for value-added food production in western North Carolina.

NCDA&CS Food & Drug Protection Division, George R. Ferguson, Feed Administrator
Mailing Address: 1070 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1070
Physical Address: 4000 Reedy Creek Road, Raleigh NC 27607-6465
Phone: (919) 733-7366; FAX: (919) 733-6801

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