What basic information is required to be on a pet food label?
The following key components of a pet food label can help you evaluate nutritional information:
This is probably the most misunderstood item on pet food labels. , the American Association of Feed Control Officials, is the organization which is charged with establishing and enforcing animal feed requirements across all fifty state governments. Its primary responsibility is to ensure the safety of feed for human food producing livestock. The AAFCO statement on most pet food labels indicates that the food has been tested and approved as “complete and balanced for the life of a pet.” This is sadly misleading. The tests are conducted on very small groups of animals and for very short periods of time. The only real long-term tests of pet food happen when pet owners feed these diets to their own pets!
Just like selecting food for yourself and your human family members, choosing healthy food for your pets comes down to educating yourself, reading labels, and not falling for marketing hype. Your pets will thank you for it.
AAFCO requirements for pet food labels include:
Additional pet food label information
This article will give you a quick overview about what the labels on a pet food tell you - and more important what theydon't tell you. It is based on the provided by the (parts are quoted in the grey boxes) and has my own comments added below. I have chosen not to simply link to that page and let it speak for itself, since it cites overly long examples but leaves out some relevant information entirely and is also outdated in some respects. At minimum, a pet food label must state guarantees for the minimum percentages of crude protein and crude fat, and the maximum percentages of crude fiber and moisture. The "crude" term refers to the specific method of testing the product, not to the quality of the nutrient itself. Their decisions are also the reason why pet food manufacturers (even if they wanted to) still can't use a more honest, descriptive labeling system, with less opportunity to make a product look better than it actually is, thus effectively protecting those companies that sell poor quality food. Manufacturers who use quality ingredients don't have anything to hide - they will proudly display e.g. chicken meal, whole grains and fresh vegetables. Those who are using ingredients like chicken byproduct meal, brewer's rice and corn gluten meal would have a hard time justifying the price of their foods. Pet owners can be passionate about choosing the best food for their pets, but with thousands of pet foods on the market, how do you make the optimal choice? Pet food labels are a good place to start. Understanding the label information can help you make informed decisions about the your pets.