WASHINGTON – The Food and Drug Administration has proposed a new rule to improve food safety for companion animals and livestock.

The Preventive Controls for Food for Animals addresses the manufacturing, processing, packing and holding of animal food. The rule would establish good manufacturing practices for buildings, facilities and personnel that would include cleaning, maintenance, pest control and personal hygiene of workers, FDA said.

“Unlike safeguards already in place to protect human foods, there are currently no regulations governing the safe production of most animal foods,” said Daniel McChesney, Ph.D., director of Surveillance and Compliance at FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM). “There is no type of hazard analysis. This rule would change all that.”

Under the proposed rule, facilities would be required to create food-safety plans and implement risk assessments of their facilities similar to Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) programs. Additionally, the new animal food rule would create regulations that would prevent nutrient imbalances in animal food.

Finally, Preventive Controls for Food for Animals, along with two other rules proposed in July, would help ensure that foods exported to the United States are held to the same food-safety standards enforced by FDA. The agency said the three rules would ensure the same level of safety for domestic and imported food for animals.

The proposed rule comes during an ongoing FDA investigation into jerky treats that have sickened more than 3,600 cats and dogs since 2007. Approximately 580 of those pets died after eating the treats. The agency has yet to pinpoint the exact cause of the illnesses.