An Important Tip When Reading Pet Food Labels

With all the pet foods on the market, it can be difficult to know which one to feed your critters. There are brand, flavor and ingredient considerations, but then there’s your pet’s response to what you’re feeding. Ultimately, pets respond differently to different commercial diets, and some actually do best on more basic pet foods.

One important detail to look for on any pet food label is the AAFCO statement. The Association of American Feed Control Officials is a non-profit organization that sets the quality and safety standards, and establishes standard ingredient definitions and minimal nutritional requirements for animal feed and pet food in the U.S. When a manufacturer makes a pet food, it usually follows the AAFCO ingredient list and therefore can put the following claim on the bag or can: “…formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Food Nutrient Profiles.”

However, diets that have this claim were not fed to animals prior to being marketed, so their safety and efficacy were not established prior to hitting the store shelves. This can be disconcerting, so manufacturers that go through the effort of actually conducting feeding trials prior to selling a product to the public allows them to make a more substantial AAFCO claim on their label that documents that the food is truly complete and balanced: “Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that [name of diet] provides complete and balanced nutrition...”

This doesn’t mean that foods lacking the AAFCO feeding trial claims are unsafe foods. But it does show the manufacturer’s level of commitment to the product, and that’s certainly something to make note of.

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