7. July 2011
Did you know they vary from State to State?
According to the National Research Council, an animal dietary supplement is defined as "a substance for oral consumption by horses, dogs and cats, whether in or on feed or offered separately, intended for specific benefit to the animal by means other than provision of nutrients recognized as essential or for provision of essential nutrients for intended effect on the animal beyond normal nutritional needs, but not including legally defined drugs."6
Nutrients and nutrient supplements are regulated by various agencies including the FDA's CVM and the individual states where the products are sold. Guidance for the state agencies is provided by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).5 AAFCO writes and revises model bills, which include food and drug regulations set forth in the Code of Federal Regulations and are often the basis of state feed regulations. The AAFCO official publication, published yearly, includes continuous revisions and additions to approved ingredients and animal feed additives. Recently, AAFCO took further action regarding nutraceuticals, establishing the Enforcement Strategy for Marketed Ingredients, which addresses unapproved ingredients and ingredients with unapproved claims.5
Some manufacturers have introduced animal products from their position within the human nutraceutical market. Many of these products have emerged in the horse market via a bridge from the human supplement market with the assumption that all species need the supplement sometimes without scientific data supporting its efficacy, bioavailability and nutritional purpose in horses. Equine practitioners should scrutinize those products before recommending their use in horses.
The National Animal Supplement Council (NASC), formed in 2001, is a nonprofit industry group consisting of manufacturers, suppliers, veterinarians, dealers and animal owners dedicated to protecting and enhancing the health of horses and companion animals. The group's aim is to place safety standards on animal supplements and on the manufacturers and to promote the use of safe ingredients in their products. The NASC Quality Seal Program is awarded to those manufacturers that meet the organization's standards (for more information, visit http://www.nasc.cc/).
However, NASC does not require companies to perform efficacy studies on their products or verify that scientific research data are available proving the products are effective for the benefit(s) they claim in horses.
Note, numerous reputable nutrient supplement companies are not members of NASC but do follow proper labeling and legitimate good manufacturing practices and have their products supported with scientific data showing their benefit and efficacy for use in horses.