I am passionate about food labeling for people. I am also an animal lover. We have five beautiful, loving cats and I like to feed them the best food I can. That means that I read the pet food labels as much as I do people food. In our household, we see our cats as furry children. Do we spoil them too much? Probably. But I want to return their love and affection with proper care.
Understanding Terminology on Pet Food Labels
The FDA regulates American pet food labels and requires manufacturer’s list ingredients in order by weight. However, marketing terms sometimes get in the way. Data Label, a UK label manufacturer, invested in researching pet food labels to help clarify some of the terminologies. For example, some pet food manufacturer’s may list “animal by-products” or “meat-meal.” What exactly do these terms mean?
Meat and Animal Derivatives vs. by-products
Flesh, meat, or animal derivatives are actual meat that most people would think about eating. Animal by-products are things people would not think of as food at all. By-products are offal leftover from the slaughterhouse such as feet, undeveloped eggs, or heads. If a label reads “Beef Flavored Dog Food,” it probably contains more by-product than actual meat under FDA labeling laws.
- Meat meals, made by rendering mammal tissues, are not meat. Since the rendering process kills harmful bacteria, sometimes, pet food maker sometimes harvest the meat from sick or dying animals, expired grocery store meats, offal, and butcher shop discards.
Not Whole Meat
These ingredients are not “whole” meat. Dehydrated, dried, powdered, concentrated, or meals.
- While guidelines exist dictating that natural foods should contain no artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors, “natural” has no legal definition. Look for “free-range” and “organic” ingredients if you are looking for the most natural foods for your furry four-footed friends. Be warned, though, that currently, there are no legal guidelines on what other ingredients may be in a pet food labeled organic, unlike organic labeling for human food.
- “Premium,” “Gourmet,” and other such terms have no legal definition, either. These foods, which frequently carry a more hefty price tag often have the same ingredients as more competitively priced competitors.
Other FDA Requirements for Pet Food Labels
- Guaranteed crude analysis for certain ingredients including protein, moisture, fat, and fiber.
- Lists feeding instructions for animal bodyweight.
- Calorie Statement
- Labels must also contain a nutritional adequacy statement indicating that the product is 100% nutritionally adequate or state that it is intended only for supplemental feeding.
Questions for you
Did I share anything that surprised you?
Do you have any pets?
This is a sponsored post and all opinions are my own.
We enjoy hosting parties and my husband and I are both avid gamers. You can find me on PS4 as SunshineFlaGirl. We also play tabletop RPGs and eurogames.