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Guidance given to home-based online pet food suppliers

Posted on: 15 April 2024

Home-based online pet food suppliers are being reminded of the importance of ensuring that the products that they sell are legal after 10 were found to be selling products that were not legally compliant with product labelling requirements.

The Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service carried out test purchases across Somerset and Devon (including Plymouth and Torbay).

Four of the businesses looked at are based in Somerset and six in Devon operating from home and selling through social media platforms and marketplaces, and on their own websites.

All 10 businesses failed strict labelling requirements. Officers tested dog treats and a canine supplements and in each case the product was incorrectly labelled.

In each case the business had not produced the pet food themselves; eight were repackaged products produced by other businesses and in two cases the products had been manufactured for them by another business.

The suppliers have been given guidance on how to ensure that the products that they sell are within the law.

The test purchases were carried out in response to concerns about the proliferation of small-scale feed business operators setting up online.

These types of small business are often not registered with Trading Standards, or if using products of animal origin, with he Animal and Plant Health Agency.

As a direct result of the test purchase and sampling exercise, five of the businesses are now registered for feed hygiene and two are purely retailing and have no requirement to register, and two will soon register.

Naomi Osborne, the service’s lead officer for Agriculture, said: “Many of these businesses set up during or after the pandemic, and we were concerned that there was a lack of awareness of the requirements and legal obligations relevant to this type of operation.

“We were particularly concerned that labelling claims, such as the product being ‘home-made’, or ‘free-from’, or ‘natural’ etc, could not be substantiated.

“It’s vital that businesses adhere to the strict regulations and that’s what we are here for, to advise and support and where needed, to intervene.

“As a service we receive many requests for advice each year on the requirements for selling homemade pet treats and feeds.

“We would initially direct them to the free business advice guides on our website and provide them with information about our paid for services and pet food pack.”