Sometimes Chicken Isn’t Exactly Chicken

It’s useful to sharpen your translation skills in understanding what the NAME on the label of a cat food product actually means. You might be surprised to know that:

  • AAFCO rules dictate that a product labeled “chicken food” must have at least 95 percent chicken on a dry matter basis (DMB). If the food is named “chicken dinner” or “chicken feast,” then the requirement drops down to 25 percent.
  • If you see the word “with” in the name – “Cat Food With Rabbit” then the food only has to have 3 percent of the ingredient derived from rabbit. 
  • There is no requirement that manufacturers label all sources of animal protein in the name – it’s possible, for example, that fish is in a cat food but that nothing on the front of the label reflects that. “Cat Food With Rabbit” could be mostly fish so long as 3 percent of the food came from rabbit.
  • The FDA and AAFCO give pet food manufacturers very wide berth, time-wise, when it comes to adjusting ingredient labels to reflect changed formulations. You really have no guarantee that the food in the can or bag precisely matches the ingredients listed on the label.

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