There are dozens of private labelers who produce pet foods for "house" brands such as Wal-mart, Krogers, Costco and other co-packers.
From the FDA Website: "There is no requirement that pet food products have pre-market approval by the FDA. However, FDA ensures that the ingredients used in pet food are safe and have an appropriate function in the pet food. Many ingredients such as meat, poultry and grains are considered safe and do not require pre-market approval."
There are special labeling requirements for pet food, all of which are contained in the annually revised Official Publication of AAFCO.2 While AAFCO does not regulate pet food, it does provide model regulations and standards that are followed by U.S. pet food makers.
The name of the food provides the first indication of the food’s content. The use of the terms “all” or “100%” cannot be used “if the product contains more than one ingredient, not including water sufficient for processing, de-characterizing agents, or trace amounts of preservatives and condiments.”
The “95% Rule” applies when the ingredient(s) derived from animals, poultry, or fish constitutes at least 95% or more of the total weight of the product (or 70% excluding water for processing). Because all-meat diets are not nutritionally balanced and cause severe deficiencies if fed exclusively, they fell out of favor for many years. However, due to rising consumer interest in high quality meat products, several companies are now promoting 95% and 100% canned meats as a supplemental feeding option.
The “dinner” product is defined by the “25% Rule,” which applies when “an ingredient or a combination of ingredients constitutes at least 25% of the weight of the product (excluding water sufficient for processing)”, or at least 10% of the dry matter weight; and a descriptor such as “recipe,” “platter,” “entree,” and “formula.” A combination of ingredients included in the product name is permissible when each ingredient comprises at least 3% of the product weight, excluding water for processing, and the ingredient names appear in descending order by weight.
Meat-by Products - Any meat or protein by-product is Slaughterhouse Waste
Chicken Meal - (Best if FIRST ingredient listed) AAFCO definition of chicken meal falls under poultry meal; duck meal and turkey meal would have the same definitions. Simply put, chicken meal is chicken with moisture removed. Chicken meal is a rendered (cooked) ingredient that can include muscle meat, skin and bone. It does not include chicken/poultry heads, feathers, feet or entrails. Always opt for a defined protein source, chicken, turkey, menhaden fish, etc.
Gluten - Gluten is what’s left over from certain grains such as, wheat, barley, corn, rice, rye and other grains once all of the starchy carbohydrates have been washed out. The sticky/rubbery "protein" residue that remains is the gluten.
Animal Fat - Unlike "chicken fat" - a named animal source, un-named "animal fat", as defined by AAFCO is "Animal Fat obtained from the tissues of mammals and/or poultry in the commercial processes of rendering or extracting. In many cases "animal fat" includes meat sources from the "4-D" class - defined as food animals that have been rejected for human consumption because they were presented to the meat packing plant as "Dead, Dying, Diseased or Disabled. Choose only pet foods that define fat sources: Chicken Fat, Turkey Fat, etc.
Ground Whole Grain Sorghum - The feed value of grain sorghum is similar to corn and is grown primarily as a feed grain for livestock.
Grains, Vegetables, Fruit - Canines are in fact CARNVORES. That being said, they can, and do in the wild (as did their ancestors), consume animals that have themselves consumed grains, vegetables and fruits. The key here is that highly processed ingredients are potential triggers for food related issues as are ingredients of inferior quality - which is what most manufacturers use. It is extremely important that all ingredients in your dog's food come from companies that utilize only US sourced ingredients of human-grade quality - like Flint River Ranch!
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