AAFCO Rules and Guidelines
A pet food that does not meet AAFCO standards may not display the AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement. You’ve most likely seen “formulated to meet the nutrient levels established by the AAFCO nutrient profiles.”
These profiles are intended to ensure that a food meets minimum nutritional standards, based on either feeding trials or laboratory analysis.
The standards mandate a range of values for the Guaranteed Analysis Panel, as well as vitamin and mineral content in a formula.
AAFCO has set standards and guidelines for different lifestage formulas- Puppy, Adult, Senior, Overweight and All Life Stages.
If a food does not meet these standards, it is not considered “complete and balanced”. It can still be sold and labeled for “supplemental or intermittent feeding”, or carry no nutritional claims at all.
AAFCO also defines are how ingredients are defined for labeling. These guidelines help to ensure that a food labeled as Lamb and Rice actually contains more lamb than rice. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen in the splitting section, it does not show when a more accurate name would be Rice and Lamb.
Labeling Guidelines and Percentages
There are fixed percentages that dictate how animal sourced ingredients can be reflected in a foods name. The “95% rule” dictates that a product must consist of 95% of a named animal ingredient, including water. It must contain 70% of the named ingredient, not including water.
If the 95% rule applied to all ingredients, including grains, fruits and vegetables, we’d see very different names and just about every bag of dog food!
The bottom line on dog food regulation? Buyer beware.
Like any other consumable product, vigilance and knowledge will help keep you and your pet safe.