How Dog Food Recipes Become AAFCO Approved - The Trupanion Blog
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How Dog Food Recipes Become AAFCO Approved

When it comes to food health and safety regulations for people, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the organization in charge. But who is in charge of making sure that dog food manufacturers follow healthy protocols and do not use harmful ingredients in their products? The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is the entity responsible for testing and approving pet food products in the United States.

Check to see if the food you feed your dog is AAFCO approved.

What Does AFFCO Do?

In short, AAFCO is a non-profit organization which exists to set standards for the production of pet food and animal feed in the United States. This organization is made up of volunteers from local, state and federal agencies and its members are responsible for creating and enforcing regulations on the sale and distribution of feed for animals, including pets. The three primary goals of this organization are as follows:

  • To ensure consumer protection
  • To safeguard the health of animals and humans
  • To provide a level playing field of orderly commerce for the animal feed industry

Though AAFCO itself has no regulatory control, it provides a forum for developing and implementing standards and regulations to ensure the safe production and distribution of animal feed and pet foods. Each year, AAFCO tests animal food products and inspects manufacturing facilities to ensure the health and safety of both humans and animals affected by the animal feed industry.

How Dog Food Gets Approved

If you look at a bag of dog food, you may see a statement that the food has been deemed “complete and balanced” by AAFCO. In order to receive this statement, the product must meet certain nutritional standards that AAFCO has defined based on the stage of life for which the product was developed. According to AAFCO, dog foods should provide different nutrient profiles for adult maintenance and for growth/reproduction. Products designed for growth/reproduction are meant for puppies and for females that are pregnant or lactating.

There are two ways in which a dog food formula can be approved by AAFCO to receive the “complete and balanced” statement on its packaging:

  • Laboratory analysis
  • Laboratory analysis plus feeding trials

All pet food products that have been approved by AAFCO should also state whether the verification of AAFCO’s nutritional standards was based on laboratory analysis only or by feeding trials as well. In many cases, only laboratory analysis is used to determine nutritional adequacy. If a product does not meet the AAFCO standards, there will likely be a statement on the package reading something like “this product is intended for intermittent or supplemental feeding only.”

What Does it Mean For You?

You do not need to know all of the laws and regulations AAFCO has set forth in regard to pet food. You should, however, be capable of identifying a product that has been approved based on its nutritional adequacy. When shopping for your dog’s food, knowing that a product that has been approved by AAFCO should have an adequacy statement on the package can be a great help in sifting through the many options available. If you are serious about providing your dog with a high-quality, healthy diet then look for a product that has the AAFCO stamp of approval.

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