The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is set to announce a new rule to prevent pet food producers from advertising their products as animal-free when they aren’t.
The new rule, which has been in the works since 2015, will go into effect on January 18.
The USDA is considering whether to take steps to prevent food companies from using animals as “human guinea pigs” or “animal feed.”
Pet food companies, which make up a significant portion of the U.K.’s pet food industry, have been lobbying to have the rule passed for some time.
The issue has been contentious, with some companies saying they want to see the rule as a tool to curb the growing demand for pet food.
But the rule has faced fierce opposition from animal rights groups, who argue that it will harm animals, particularly farm animals, by creating a false sense of security for consumers.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already issued a number of regulations aimed at combating the pet food trade, but the new rule has been more contentious.
The rule, proposed by the USDA, would take several steps to address animal welfare issues in pet food products, such as requiring that all food made by pet food manufacturers be free of antibiotics, hormones, or other harmful substances, as well as to require pet food makers to label any food as animal free or cruelty-free.
The FDA also has a requirement that pet food labels have the same branding and colors as meat and poultry.
Pet food manufacturers, including brands like Nestle, Cargill, Nestle Purina, and Kraft, have also argued that they want the rule to include a requirement to remove animal-based ingredients.
The industry’s own scientific research has repeatedly shown that animal products cause disease, suffering, and death to animals.