AAFCO Doesn’t Regulate or Certify Pet Foods

AAFCO may not be what you’ve been thinking it is. The “100 percent nutritionally balanced and complete” claims on processed cat food that are based solely on meeting AAFCO industry standards are far from a robust standard for nutritional excellence that supports long-term health.

Meeting AAFCO minimums has become a default presumed “gold standard” for labeling pet food and is often interpreted by consumers – and relied on by veterinarians – as assurance that a given food is “complete and balanced.”

In AAFCO’s own words: “AAFCO does not regulate, test, approve, or certify pet foods in any way.”

The scoop: AAFCO, a non-profit organization that sets standards for animal feed and pet food in the US, allows pet food companies to put a “100 percent complete and balanced” claim on their food labels if it’s met their feeding trial protocols.

Sounds great, right? Until you realize that their trial protocols are a mere six months. Diet-related deficiencies often do not surface in such a short time frame. And until you realize that only six animals are needed to complete the trial. And that success is measured with a physical exam and a very minimal blood test—no full blood chemistry or urinalysis is performed. The only four blood values checked are hemoglobin, packed cell volume, serum alkaline phosphatase, and serum albumin.

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