Pet food regulation policies are developed by the FDA, USDA, AAFCO and various state agencies. Each set of regulation ensures, theoretically, that certain standards are met.
Unfortunately, the oversight provided by these agencies often falls short of providing the type of protection that pet owners would like.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) regulations and procedures were revised following the massive pet food recalls and contamination problems in 2007. They provide very broad guidelines to “ensure” that dog food be safe, produced under controlled conditions, and be labeled properly.
The FDA is part of the Federal government. We pay their salary with our taxes.
AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officers) is responsible for ingredient definitions and setting minimum nutrition standards for each type of pet food.
While AAFCO has oversight authority on what may and may not be used in pet foods, it has “no overriding legal authority” to enforce its own regulations.
AAFCO is an advisory board, made up of members of state and federal government agencies, and is lobbied by pet food manufacturers. It is not a government agency, although all members must be government officials.
Pet food industry lobbyists may serve on AAFCO task force and working groups, or as as advisers to AAFCO committees, but cannot vote or make motions in these meetings.
While FDA and AAFCO dog food regulation is welcome and necessary, it does not provide the type of stringent control that many pet owners assume is in place.
As a result, it is critical that pet owners understand how to evaluate their own pet food and separate facts from marketing hype.