Does your pet food meet industry standards?

How do you know that your pet food is healthy and safe? We unpack the mystery behind AAFCO and the FDA, and how these organizations establish pet food industry standards.

We all want our companion animal’s food to be as healthy and safe as possible. If you’ve done any research on this topic, you may have stumbled across the acronyms AAFCO and FDA. These are regularly used to demonstrate a pet food’s compliance with industry standards. But what exactly does that mean?

The difference between AAFCO and the FDA

AAFCO stands for The Association of American Feed Control Officials. It’s an organization of local, state, and federal agencies that regulate the sale and distribution of animal feeds – including dog and cat foods – as well as animal drug remedies. AAFCO defines regulations for all animal food ingredients and sets the standards for adequate nutritional content.

So, what does that mean for you? AAFCO works to protect consumers and safeguard the health of our animals by establishing the minimum and maximum levels of nutrients that are deemed essential to your pet’s health. This organization also works to ensure that all pet food manufacturers are creating food on the same level playing field.

It’s important to note that these regulations are not laws – although many states and provinces have incorporated AAFCO standards into law. Enter the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a governing body responsible for regulating pet foods. The FDA monitors food branding, inspects processing plants, ensures that the manufacturer is recorded, and checks to ensure labels are not misleading.

AAFCO regulations you should look for

If you see a company claim that their pet food is ‘nutritionally complete’, they must meet AAFCO’s nutritional and feed ingredient requirements:

  • A reputable pet food brand will work to meet and even exceed the AAFCO listed minimum and maximum levels for protein, fat, vitamin and mineral content.
  • A pet food manufacturer must provide a guaranteed analysis on the food label – a profile to show the recipe’s nutrient composition.
  • There must be a list of ingredients in descending order with the ingredient that weigh the most stated first.

When reviewing a pet food, use these AAFCO standards as guidelines. Investing in a pet food brand that meets AAFCO and FDA standards means that your furry friend will be getting all his essential nutrients!

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Rebecca Bloom is an Editorial & Multimedia Specialist at Redstone Media Group, publisher of Animal Wellness Magazine, Equine Wellness Magazine, IVC Journal and Canadian Dogs Annual. A graduate in Forensic Psychology as well as Community Development and Policy Studies, Rebecca’s career has spanned many organizations including as a university political science research assistant, a policy writer for Durham Regional Police, and a researcher in a clinical effective neuroscience laboratory. When she's not working, you can find Rebecca immersed in theatre and film culture, working on her photography or spending time with her partner and two spirited kittens.