The Food and Drug Administration on Friday said it intends to pull a policy governing approval of animal feed additives, opening up the market for startups that make supplements to reduce cattle emissions or enhance food safety.
The agency's Center for Veterinary Medicine will withdraw its policy manual for regulating additives, which was meant to determine whether supplements should be legally classified as food or drugs. The move is part of a larger administrative effort to streamline the approvals process for innovative feed additives.
Producers commonly use additives such as probiotics and prebiotics to boost animal health. However, as livestock producers face pressure to take action on sustainability, a new class of startups has emerged focused on slashing emissions through other changes to animal diets.
CH4 Global, which has developed a seaweed-based supplement to reduce methane from cow burps, said in a statement that the FDA's policy on additives had created multi-year approval delays. The agency's withdrawal is a "major milestone for U.S. agriculture" that brings the company closer to commercializing its product.
"Regulatory advancements such as the recent one made by the FDA will open new doors for products like ours, enabling us to contribute more significantly to global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, empower farmers to unlock new revenue streams, and support sustainable farming practices," the company said in the statement.
The FDA is working with Congress on a clear regulatory pathway for additives that reduce pathogens, affect byproducts of the digestive process or impact the microbiome of an animal. Lawmakers in December introduced the Innovative FEED Act, which would create a new category of animal feed and provide manufacturers with clearer regulatory guidance.