Do AAFCO & FDA Dog Food Regulations Matter?
Bombarded by print ads, on line ads, TV spots and pet stores all pushing dog and pet food said to be the best for our dogs. And, learning of pet food recalls year after year, getting conflicting advice from friends, Vets, and other dog lovers. It's no wonder why half of us are confused about dog food regulations and which dog food is best, some know what to look for, and the rest don't spend much time worrying about it. So, who's right, who's wrong and what's really in dog food compared to the dog food label?
Luckily, or not.. there are two entities that are responsible for what's in dog food, the AAFCO (The Association of American Feed Control Officials) & an agency most have heard of, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). I did say these groups "are responsible for dog food regulations", but take this with a grain of salt! Here's why..
FDA Dog Food Regulations
The FDA plays a part in what's on a dog food label, not much as to what's in dog food. They're more concerned that packaging is accurate and that dog food labels are not misleading. The FDA also conducts inspections of pet food processing facilities and it's not uncommon for manufacturers to voluntarily recall product subsequent failed inspections to avoid government red tape. Plus, the potential brand name damage, bad press, and liability that would surely follow.
More Info: There is no requirement that pet food products have pre-market approval by the FDA. However, the FDA requires that the ingredients used in pet food are safe and have an appropriate function. Visit the FDA Website here for more info.
AAFCO Dog Food Regulations
Encompassing many state regulatory officials, AAFCO is not a government agency, rather a non profit voluntary organization of committee members and advisors. Each individual member holds the responsibility to enforce their state's laws regarding dog food regulations & pet food safety. Ironically, reps from major pet food manufacturers like Mars Petcare Inc., Nestle Purina PetCare, Big Heart Pet Brands, Hill's Pet Nutrition, Diamond Pet Foods, and more, are AAFCO members. Did I say that that Mars Petcare had an annual revenue of 18 Billion Dollars?!
Let's no kid ourselves, this is like the Fox guarding the Hen House.. But AAFCO asserts that consumer protection is their mission. Guess we can take that with a grain of salt too. And truthfully, AAFCO has no real way to enforce dog food regulations nor do they perform thorough testing of what's in dog food or any ingredients.
With that in mind, the Association of American Feed Control Officials regulations have been accepted nationwide. All feed manufacturers must follow these regulations for producing pet food and livestock feed. Adhering to AAFCO regulation is not that difficult. To claim their food is AAFCO "nutritionally complete", all pet food manufacturers have to do is one (1), confirm their food meets requirements of AAFCO's nutrient profile by feeding trials, or two (2), claim their food is similar to another dog food that meets the profile.
If you read our prior Dog Food Analysis article, it's interesting to know that most of the ingredients listed on that page have "at minimum requirements" specified by AAFCO.
For more info about AAFCO dog food regulations you can link to the AAFCO website here.
So What's Really Going On?
Nothing to brag about if I were either agency to be honest. The main image on this page was taken with my Iphone at a Tractor Supply store. For sale, were 55-pound bags of dog kibble with ingredients labeled "meets AAFCO guidelines" for $18.99. Take a few minutes to look at the ingredients, print the picture if you'd like, then read our Feeding Dry Dog Food section with special attention to our "Dog Food Analysis" article. You'll agree I promise.. disgusting!
It's Up To Us
As a dog owners to be diligent about finding a good dry dog food regardless what dog food regulations are in place. To be honest, if they can get away selling kibble that's made from corn, floor sweepings from a food mill, toxic coloring dye, artificial flavors, sweeteners and known carcinogens as something that meets a "nutrients standard", we have no one to rely on but ourselves.
Follow along to the next article as we'll be recommending some great brands shortly. Or use the link below to the lead page for this section where you can access our library of feeding dry dog food articles.