Federal Trade Commission Act Laws say one thing; AAFCO Pet Food
regulations say something completely different. Laws that require
advertisers of every other product sold in the U.S. to be truthful, do
not apply to dog food or cat food.
Directly from the pages of The Federal Trace Commission’s website, “Advertising must be truthful and
non-deceptive”. To the complete opposite, AAFCO (American
Association of Feed Control Officials) regulations state “the label of a pet food may include an
unqualified claim, directly or indirectly”. EXCUSE
ME? A direct unqualified claim is certainly not truthful and it is definitely
deceptive. Does anybody of authority care about this?
The FTC’s website continues: “What makes an advertisement
deceptive?” “According to the FTC's Deception
Policy Statement, an ad is deceptive if it contains a statement - or
omits information - that: Is likely to mislead consumers acting
reasonably under the circumstances; and Is "material" - that is, important to
a consumer's decision to buy or use the product.” http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/business/adv/bus35.shtm
YES pet food labels and pet food advertising that make ‘direct
unqualified claims’ mislead consumers! YES dog food and cat food
‘direct unqualified statements’ on labels and advertising is ‘material’
to a consumer’s decision to buy or use the product! But no one of
authority seems to care.
Let’s look at some examples of pet food advertising … “Pro-Active nutrition for a Long and
Healthy Life” “Nutritionally Complete for Healthy
Body Weight” “Natural Super-Premium”
Please note! The above
statements are legally allowed per AAFCO regulations despite the fact
they may or may not be true.
Can you imagine if a fast food restaurant advertised their chicken
sandwich or hamburger as ‘Lunch for a Long and Healthy Life’? Or
another fast food chain claiming ‘Meals Nutritionally Complete for
Healthy Body Weight’? The FTC would come down on them so quickly
the sixty second commercial would barely be over before it was demanded
to be taken off the air. Fines and media attention would surround
the fast food chain. Every newspaper and television station in
the country would be reporting on XYZ Fast Food misleading consumers
with false statements. Yet the FTC does nothing about pet food
Of course pet owners want their pets to live longer, be healthy, and
eat a premium natural food! Of course these advertising tag lines
influence pet owner purchases. Hello…FTC…are you paying attention
to this? Is anyone paying attention? AAFCO regulations
allow pet food to make direct unqualified claims, the FDA flatly
accepts AAFCO’s ‘work’, and everyone of authority seems to turn a blind
eye to it all!
If you are angry at Pet Food for misleading consumers, consider this…if
the IRS told you they would like for you to pay your taxes but you
don’t have to, would you pay taxes? Would you send the IRS a big
fat check every April 15th even though you didn’t have to? The
blame for this atrocity lies with those that make the regulations –
AAFCO; and those that don’t bother to enforce Federal Laws – the FDA,
the FTC, and members of Congress.
By the way, AAFCO regulations do NOT override FTC Federal
laws. AAFCO doesn’t take responsibility for their actions by
continually stating they only ‘recommend regulations’. The FDA
doesn’t take responsibility for their actions by stating AAFCO writes
the rules; yet they blindly follow AAFCO’s every decision. (I
wonder if AAFCO recommended the FDA jump off the roof, if they’d do
it?) Each State Department of Agriculture as well, typically
accepts AAFCO rules and regulations without question (although some
states have minor variations).
Lesson to learn…Keep remembering pet food regulations allow dog food
and cat food manufacturers to do things that NO OTHER INDUSTRY
can. Unlike tobacco, alcohol and even the pharmaceutical
industry, pet food is allowed to violate several Federal Laws (Federal
Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, Federal Trade Commission Act) openly and
without any repercussions. Warn
every pet owner you know.
Please know, there are high quality dog foods and cat foods out there,
learn a few things to understand the difference. Read
ingredients, understand a few definitions, call the manufacturer and
ask questions. But definitely do not believe everything you read
on a pet food label or see during a pet food commercial.
June 15, 3:10 PM · Courtney Taylor -
Denver Dogs Examiner
Simply put, a filler is something that has been added to your dog's
food to help him feel "full" but contains little to no nutritional
Some fillers can actually irritate your dog's digestive system. So,
if you have an older dog or an animal with health problems, feeding a
food without fillers may improve his or her overall health and
While a food with fillers will temporarily satisfy your dog's
hunger, you will likely need to feed more of it. Because of the lack of
nutrition, your dog's body will tell him that he needs more food. It's
like eating a candy bar. While it might satisfy you for a while, you
will likely be hungry again soon as your body craves the vitamins and
minerals it needs. Generally, when you switch your dog from a
filler-laden food to one free of fillers, you will notice a decrease in
the amount needed to keep him healthy and satisfied.
Foods high in fillers are often sprayed with animal fat to make them
more palatable to your dog.
Fillers also carry with them the risk of being contaminated with
pesticides and other harmful chemicals. Both 2006 and 2007 pet
food recalls were the result of contaminated fillers.
Pet food manufacturers will add fillers in order to reduce the
overall cost of the food. However, you will likely need to buy the food
more often as your dog consumes higher quantities of it. Buying a
higher quality food might cost more on the front end, but once your dog
reduces his intake, the cost per meal can be lower than that of the low
quality, inexpensive food. Generally, foods sold at grocery and several
sold at large pet food retailers, such as PetSmart and Petco will
contain some level of filler. And, as the price decreases, the amount
of fillers will go up. Please note: This is not to say that EVERY
food at these stores contains fillers. However, many do, but
the amount will vary. Read the label carefully to evaluate the quality
of the food.
Some common fillers include:
Gluten and grain products, such as corn and wheat:
These server as a source of sugar and, as dogs are carnivores, they are
of little nutritional value. Often, a grain product will leave the body
just as it entered as it will not be broken down or absorbed.
Soy: This filler is responsible for a huge
portion of pet allergies that can result in sneezing, itching,
swelling, anaphylactic shock, and death.
Seed hulls: Cottonseed and peanut hulls
Weeds and straw
Beet pulp: While this can provide a good source
of fiber, beet pulp has been known to plug the intestinal villus.
Animal by-products: These are the "left-overs"
once an animal has been prepared for human consumption. This may
include intestines, chicken heads, lungs, livers, kidneys, duckbills,
chicken and turkey feet, feathers and bone. Ingredients listed as
chicken, beef, poultry, and animal by-products are not required to
include actual meat. Animal digest, animal
fat, meat by-products, and chicken
by-products are all animal by-products and
are described in better detail below.
Animal digest: Produced by chemical or
enzymatic hydrolysis of an undecomposed animal. This has also been
described as "manure" and "a cooked-down broth, which can be made from
unspecified parts of unspecified animals. The animals used can be
obtained from almost any source and no control is in place over quality
or contamination. Any kind of animal can be included: "4-D animals"
(dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter), goats, pigs,
horses, rats, euthanized at animal shelters, restaurant and supermarket
refuse and so on."
Animal fat: Obtained from the tissues of
animals during rendering
or extracting and generally comes from an unknown origin. BHA, an
artificial preservative suspected of causing cancer, may be used to
preserve the animal fat.
Meat by-products: These are the non-rendered
parts, other than the meat, and are derived from slaughter
animals. This includes, but is not limited to, the spleen, kidneys,
livers, brain, lungs, blood, bone, stomachs, and intestines.
Chicken by-product meal: Ground and rendered
chicken products, including necks, feet, intestines, and undeveloped
To avoid fillers, look at the ingredients on your pet food. While
some companies may list real meat as their number one ingredient, they
may actually have more fillers, which reduces the ratio of quality
ingredients to useless ones. The staff of natural pet stores such Mouthfuls
or Wag n' Wash
are happy to help you better understand fillers and select a high
quality food for your dog.
Dog food 101: What is the difference between natural, organic, and
June 17, 1:53 PM · Courtney Taylor -
Denver Dogs Examiner
What's the difference?
Natural, organic, holistic... as pet owners, we are constantly faced
with these terms. As "green living" takes a stronger hold on the US,
these descriptors are becoming more and more common. So, what do these
terms actually mean, and is there a difference?
• Natural: AAFCO (American Association of Feed
Control Officials) defines the word "natural", when used to describe a
pet food as: "A feed or ingredient derived solely from plant,
animal or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been
subjected to physical processing, heat processing, rendering,
purification extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis or fermentation, but
not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic
process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are
chemically synthetic except in amounts as might occur unavoidably in
good manufacturing practices."
ThePetCenter.com states: "When it comes to labeling commercial
feeds, pet foods, and specialty pet foods the use of the term "natural"
is only acceptable in reference to the product as a whole when all of
the ingredients and components of ingredients meet the
definition. The use of the term "natural" on the label is false
and misleading if any chemically synthesized ingredients are present in
the product. Prophylene Glycol and BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole)
are two common examples of chemically synthesized ingredients found in
some pet foods. The committee suggested that an exception be made for
synthetic vitamin and mineral additives as long as the product is not
used as a dietary supplement."
So, just because a food is labeled as "natural" doesn't necessarily
mean it's the best choice to feed your dog. Natural essentially means
that the ingredient has been minimally processed and was grown in a
"natural environment" (ie. outside versus in a lab). Natural foods can
still contain fillers,
including grains, glutens, and soy. By-products that have been
minimally processed may also be included in the food.
For example, let's take a look at Science
Diet's Nature's Best dog food. Here is the beginning of the
ingredient list for the Chicken & Brown Rice Dinner (all
fillers, ingredients devoid of nutrition, and other undesirable
ingredients are in bold):
• Organic: To be termed as "organic", a food must
be grown without the use of pesticides, insecticides, or herbicides.
However, these products may be used as a "last resort" in dire
circumstances, and non-organic fertilizers may still be utilized in
some instances. Organic meat must come from animals that were never
administered antibiotics or growth hormone.
The organic industry is heavily regulated and many countries,
including the US, Canada, the European Union, and Japan require organic
farmers to attain special certification.
Keep in mind that an "organic dog food" may not be entirely
comprised of organic ingredients. Read the ingredient label to
determine how "organic" the food actually is.
If you can find a dog food that is mostly or entirely organic,
chances are you're buying a quality food, but you'll still want to look
out for grains and other fillers.
here to view the ingredients of Karma, a 95% organic dog food
• Holistic: "Holistic" refers to looking at
something and treating it as a whole. Each ingredient in a holistic dog
food should contribute to the animal's health in a different way and
the recipe should work together. A product like sweet potato might be
added for its dental benefits and because it's a good source of fiber.
Then, to meet the protein needs, a meat, like bison or lamb, will be
added to complement the sweet potato.
Dog foods labeled as "holistic" should comprise of natural
ingredients of human-grade quality that are well-cared for during the
creation of the product. These foods contain no byproducts or fillers,
which makes them more easily digested. Feeding a holistic food will
help you avoid most food-related allergies that your dog might have.
Holistic dog foods have not yet been included in pet food recall.
Holistic foods are generally very high quality but be sure to do
your own investigation by reading the ingredient list.
here for a great example of how Ultra Holistic Superfood considers
each ingredient individually and how they work together as a team.
While the words natural, organic, and holistic tend to be used
interchangeably, there can be a big difference. Always read the labels
of your food so that you know what you're getting.
June 24, 11:01 PM · Courtney Taylor -
Denver Dogs Examiner
While scanning the label of your dog food, you might see some
preservatives. Canned food is preserved by the air-tight container, but
dried foods must contain a preservative to prevent spoilage. Artificial
(also known as synthetic) preservatives can produce an apporoximate
twelve-month shelf life while natural preservatives cut that amount
down to six months. Read on to learn about some common
preservatives found in dog food.
BHA (Butylated hydroxyanisole)
BHA is a synthetic or artificial preservative commonly found in dry
dog food. It is very similar to BHT and is a waxy solid used
to prevent oxidation of dry food. Some sources have claimed
that BHA is a potential cause of cancer in dogs.
BHT (Butylated hydroxytoluene)
A common artificial preservative much like BHA, this fat-soluble
compound is used as a food additive to prevent the degredation or
spoilage of dog food. BHA is also used in cosmetics,
pharmaceuticals, jet fuels, rubber, petroleum products, electrical
transformer oil, and embalming fluid. Like BHA, some state
that BHT can cause cancer.
This is another commly used synthetic preservative. Ethoxyquin
causes the most concern among dog owners. Like BHA and BHT, some
experts have claimed a potential link to pet cancer. Several
studies, including one by
the Department of Pathology at Nagoya City University Medical
School in Japan has found Ethoxyquin to
promote kidney and bladder cancer and stomach
tumors. Ethoxyquin has also been blamed as a cause of disease,
skin porblems, and infertility. This dog food preservative is currently
regulated by the FDA as a pesticide.
Propyl gallate is a less frequently used artificial preservative
that has also been linked to cancer. It is also used in skin
antiseptics, astringents, cosmetics, hair products, adhesives, and
An artificial preservative that is a less toxic version of
antifreeze and is used to de-ice aircraft. Propylene glycol is
used as an ingredient in paint balls, a working fluid in hydraulic
presses, poison for ground beetles, pipe tobacco addittive to prevent
drying, and in deodorant sticks. Propylene glycol is not allowed
in cat food as it has been shown to cause anemia. However, it is still
permitted in dog foods.
Vitamin C (ascorbate) and Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols)
These are both natural preservatives. Dog foods containing Vitamin C
or E will have a shelf life of six months, which is about half that of
a food containing artificial preservatives.
Oils of rosemary, clove, or other spices
Spice oils are less commonly used but can also serve as a natural
preservative, meaning that the food's shelf life will be about six
It is important to note that a food may be advertised as having
"no added artificial preservatives", they may still contain low levels
synthetic preservatives that previously existed in the meat or vitamins
purchased from suppliers.
June 18, 1:44 PM · Courtney Taylor -
Denver Dogs Examiner
Photo of by-products being rendered / starkfoodsystems.com
Some of the ingredients found in dog food are the result of
rendering. So, what exactly is this?
The process of rendering:
This process converts animal parts deemed unfit for human
consumption into a form acceptable for use in pet foods.
The animal materials are ground before being cooked at a temperature
between 220° and 270° F for up to an hour. After being cooked,
the mixture is then spun at a high speed to remove the grease and
tallow. The removed material is then added to pet food and listed as
animal fat on the ingredients label.
The mixture that remains after the grease is removed is then dried.
This becomes the meal product in many pet foods.
Are meals bad?
"Good meals" include those of obvious origin. Ingredients such as
"lamb meal", "beef meal", and "chicken meal" have all been
rendered and provide quality nutrition in a dog food.
An ingredient of lower quality is "chicken by-product meal",
which contains rendered chicken products, including
necks, feet, intestines, and undeveloped eggs.
The ingredient of highest concern is "meat and bone meal" as this
can contain the undesirable products listed above, including euthanized
animals, diseased animal tissue, flea collars, etc.
To learn more about meals and what is rendered, click
June 29, 3:05 PM · Courtney Taylor -
Denver Dogs Examiner
When opening the can, ripping the bag, or browsing the aisles of the
pet store, do you ever wonder how pet food is made? How do some
companies create a potpourri of bones, circles, and triangles?
First, the animal ingredients are added to a large vat. This may
include quality ingredients such as beef, lamb, or chicken meat. Or,
ingredients may be comprised of horses, euthanized pets, by-products,
etc. All material is then ground, cooked at a temperature
between 220° and 270° F for up to an hour, then spun to
remove the fat in a process called rendering.
The rendered material is mixed with cereal grains, flours, meat or
bone meal, etc. to gain the desired consistency. Preservatives
may also be added at this time. This doughy material is fed into a
machine called an extruder where it is subjected to high heat and
pressure and squeezed through a mold. As the substance exits the
mold, a spinning blade rapidly cuts the strand of dough into small
The hot doughy pieces are exposed to normal air pressure
which causes them to expand or "puff" into the intended shape.
After it dries, many manufacturers will spray the food with animal fat,
sweeteners, or other flavor agents, known as "digests" to increase
After the food cools, it is ready to be bagged.
Some dry foods are not extruded. Instead, they are cooked at a
temperature of at least 500° F. A hard, crunchy "sheet" is formed
which is then broken into several irregular pieces. Generally, food
produced in this manner does not need added digests as the food is
Although most bacteria is killed during the heating process, the
food can become contaminated during the cooling and coating process
before it is packaged. For this reason, some experts caution pet owners
against wetting dry food with canned food, water, milk, etc. When the
liquid is applied, bacteria may multiple on the food's surface causing
The food's ingredients are combined and ground. A special extruder
may be used to form chunks, if necessary.
Many companies cook their food before canning. The cans
make their way into a heating chamber, also called a retort. They
are exposed to 250° F for about 80 minutes to sterilize the cans.
Some food manufactures actually cook their food in the can during this
The canned food is then cooled quickly and dried. The containers are
now ready for labeling and packaging.
Dog food 101: What is meal when listed as an ingredient?
July 6, 2:44 PM · Courtney Taylor -
Denver Dogs Examiner
Chicken meal, lamb meal, and by-product meal are all examples of dog
food ingredients. But, what is "meal", really?
The Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) defines meal as "the rendered
product from mammal tissues, exclusive of any added blood, hair, horn,
hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents."
Meal is produced through the process of rendering
in which ingredients are ground, boiled, spun to remove the fat, and
dried. After rendering, only about 10% water remains allowing the end
product to consist largely of minerals and protein (about 50 - 65%
While they can be an excellent source of nutrition and protein, not
all meals are created equal.
When describing meal as an ingredient in dog food, the FDA's website
states: "In addition to the processing, it could also contain
parts of animals one would not think of as 'meat.'"
Generally speaking, a "quality meal" is one for which the
source of the ingredient is clearly listed, such as "lamb meal",
"fish meal", and "chicken meal". Below are the Association of American Feed Control
Officials (AAFCO) definitions of these ingredients:
Lamb meal: "The rendered product from lamb
tissues, exclusive of blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure,
stomach and rumen contents except in such amounts as may occur
unavoidably in good processing practices."
Fish Meal: "The clean, dried, ground tissue of
undecomposed whole fish or fish cuttings, either or both, with or
without the extraction of part of the oil."
Chicken Meal: Chicken which has been ground or
otherwise reduced in particle size."
Chicken is defined as: "The clean
combination of flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone,
derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken or a combination
thereof, exclusive of feathers, heads, feet and entrails"
The AAFCO defines a meat by-product as: "The non-rendered, clean
parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes,
but is not limited to, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood,
bone, partially defatted low temperature fatty tissue, and stomachs and
intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, horns,
teeth and hoofs. It shall be suitable for use in animal food. If it
bears name descriptive of its kind, it must correspond thereto."
The most commonly used by-product meal is defined below by the AFCO:
Chicken By-Product Meal: "Consists of the ground,
rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered chicken, such as
necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines, exclusive of feathers,
except in such amounts as might occur unavoidable in good processing
As a rule of thumb, it is best to steer clear of by-products in your
dog's food, whether as a meal or other ingredient.
Vegetable and Grain Meals
Grain and vegetable meals are generally used in dog food to keep the
cost of production low. Manufacturers use products like corn gluten
meal or soybean meal as an alternative to a more costly and higher
Soybeans, linseed, and corn may appear as meals in pet food.
However, none of these grains are easily digested and are classified as
Corn gluten meal in particular is commonly used and is a
concentrated form of protein that is very difficult to digest. Using
this type of ingredient allows the food to advertise high protein
content even though your dog might not actually digest or benefit from
any of it.
Meat and bone meals
This is the ingredient of highest concern when listed on a dog food.
Below is the AFCO definition:
Meat and Bone Meal: "The rendered product from
mammal tissues, including bone, exclusive of blood, hair, hoof, horn,
hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents, except in such
amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices."
The following is a list of some (not all) ingredients that may be
included in the creation of meat and bone meal.
Tissue from slaughterhouses, including blood, feathers, heads,
feet, bones, and entrails
Restaurant grease and butcher shop trimmings
Road kill animals, including pets, deer, raccoons, snakes,
opossums, foxes, etc.
Euthanized animals from zoos, vet clinics, or animal shelters,
including cats and dogs
"Pet Food Industry magazine states that a pet food manufacturer
might reject rendered material for various reasons, including the
presence of foreign material (metals, hair, plastic, rubber, glass),
off odor, excessive feathers, hair or hog bristles, bone chunks, mold,
chemical analysis out of specification, added blood, leather, or
calcium carbonate, heavy metals, pesticide contamination, improper
grind or bulk density, and insect infestation.
Please note that this article states that the manufacturer might
reject this material, not that it does reject this material."
Below is the ingredient list for PEDIGREE®
WITH LAMB & RICE™ Food for Dogs. Notice that two of the first
four most prevalent ingredients include a by-product meal and meat and
bone meal. Also included in the top five ingredients are two fillers
(Ground Whole Corn and Ground Wheat) and Animal Fat (what is spun off
the ground and boiled mixture during rendering) preserved with two
artificial and potentially hazardous preservatives.
Later in the list are more fillers and artificial colors.
Ground Whole Corn, Chicken By-product Meal, Ground
Wheat, Meat And Bone Meal, Animal Fat (preserved with
BHA/BHT), Wheat Flour, Rice, Lamb, Corn Gluten Meal,
Natural Flavor, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Dicalcium Phosphate,
Vegetable Oil (source of Linoleic Acid), Caramel Color, Dried Beet
Pulp, Titanium Dioxide, Vitamins (Choline Chloride, Dl-alpha Tocopherol
Acetate [source of Vitamin E], L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate [source of
Vitamin C*], Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate [Vitamin B1],
Biotin, D-calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement [Vitamin B2],
Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Minerals (Zinc Sulfate,
Zinc Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese,
Proteinate, Potassium Iodide), Added FD&C and Lake Colors (Yellow
6, Yellow 5, Blue 2, Red 40.)
Know what's in your dog's food and always read the ingredient list
on any pet food. For the most part, a meal with the source listed is a
good source of nutrition. By-product meals and those of uncertain
origin (including meat and bone meal) are poor ingredients and do not
come highly recommended to feed to your dog.