Defining pet food, animal feed, and dietary supplements

Pet food, animal feed, and dietary supplements are agricultural compounds classified as oral nutritional compounds (ONCs).


Defining oral nutritional compounds

Oral nutritional compounds (ONCs) are made up of animal feed (including pet food) and dietary supplements. They are a subset of agricultural compounds, which are regulated under the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines (ACVM) Act 1997. 

Because they have different risks and regulatory requirements, ONCs are divided into three groups:

  • Pet foods – whole diet foods for dogs and cats
  • Animal feeds  whole diet foods for other kinds of animals
  • Dietary supplements  mixes of specific nutrients to supplement nutrient levels in the whole diet foods fed to animals.

ONCs may contain feed additives, which are non-nutrient ingredients added to animal feed to improve its preservation, digestion, colour, palatability, texture, or nutritive value. If a feed additive product has directions to be fed directly to animals for a nutritional benefit, then it becomes an ONC.

If you're unsure of your product’s status under the ACVM Act, MPI can do a class determination for it. (There is a fee for this service.)

Learn about class determinations:

If your product is not intended for animals to eat, it will have different requirements. Find out about rendered or inedible animal products:

Definition of an agricultural compound

The legal definition of an agricultural compound, as stated in the ACVM Act, is:

... any substance, mixture of substances, or biological compound, used or intended for use in the direct management of plants and animals, or to be applied to the land, place, or water on or in which the plants and animals are managed, for the purposes of:

    1. managing or eradicating pests, including vertebrate pests; or
    2. maintaining, promoting, or regulating plant or animal productivity and performance or reproduction; or
    3. fulfilling special nutritional requirements; or
    4. the manipulation, capture, or immobilisation of animals; or
    5. diagnosing the condition of animals; or
    6. preventing or treating conditions of animals; or
    7. enhancing the effectiveness of an agricultural compound used for the treatment of plants and animals; or
    8. marking animals; and includes
      1. any veterinary medicine, substance, mixture of substances, or biological compound used for post-harvest pest control or disinfestation of raw primary produce;
      2. anything used or intended to be used as feed for animals; and
      3. and any substance, mixture of substances, or biological compound declared to be an agricultural compound for the purposes of this Act by Order in Council made under subsection (2)

Find out more about agricultural compounds:

Defining pet food

A pet is generally considered to be an animal that is domestic or tame and kept for pleasure or companionship. While pet food is generally considered to be a food for all of these animals, it has a narrower definition under the Animal Products Act 1999: pet food is an animal product intended for consumption by cats or dogs. This narrower definition applies to MPI's information about pet food.

Other types of animal feed

If you manufacture feed for animals other than cats and dogs, or feed that doesn't contain any animal product, it is still classified as an agricultural compound. 

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