FDA Releases New Fact Sheet on Safe Distribution of Unused Human Food for Use as Animal Food During COVID-19

— Written By Rhea Hebert and last updated by
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FDA redistributing human food fact sheet graphic
The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has released a new fact sheet for Safely distributing unused human food for use as animal food.

Suppliers of unused human food can send food for use as animal food, rather than letting it go to waste. Restaurants, restaurant suppliers, food warehouses or grocery stores can send unused human food that is not adulterated and is safe for animal consumption to another person who supplies ingredients to animal food manufacturers, manufacturers of animal food for pets, livestock, or other animals, or a farmer or other animal caretakers.

What can be redistributed?

This includes food that is safe for human consumption, but cannot be distributed to humans (e.g. food that is stale or past a quality date).

What should not be redistributed?

Food that should not be redistributed includes items that are unsafe for the species that will be consuming it. For example, xylitol and chocolate are safe for human consumption, but are toxic to dogs. Contact FDA-CVM if you have questions about which food items are safe for the intended species.

Other applicable guidelines

For meat products, the intended species is important to consider. For food intended for swine, follow the Swine Health Protection Act (SHPA). For ruminants, follow the FDA’s requirements for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), which prohibits the use of most mammalian protein in food for ruminant animals.

All packaged food should be identified with a label containing a list of ingredients. Allergen information is not required for animal food. Food should also be held in a way that it will remain safe for distribution.


If you have questions about safely diverting human food for use in animal food, contact CVM at askCVM@fda.hhs.gov.

For more information about safely diverting human food for use in animal food, visit the Animal Food & Feeds page.


If you have questions about animal food safety, please contact Marissa Herchler.