High-quality densely nutritious pet food can lay the foundation for the health and well-being of your furry friends, particularly cats and dogs. Although dogs and cats are naturally omnivores, they need a well-balanced protein-rich diet. One rich source of protein in animal foods is whole meat.
Pet owners and businesses looking to venture into pet food manufacturing must know the source of their meat and how those meats and flavors get labeled in pet foods. Awareness of the different components and regulations that lead to pet food naming conventions is also crucial.
You can find eye-catching labels like “ 100% natural,” “all-natural,” “raw,” or “wholesome” on pet foods. All these labels may sound similar, but they are misleading labels unregulated by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
On the other hand, some of the FDA and AAFCO-approved labels include “organic” and “human grade.” If a pet food provides all the essential nutrients for the pet, it is labeled “complete and balanced” through a nutritional adequacy statement from AAFCO.
The major components and regulations that lead to pet food naming conventions are listed below.
- The product name: It displays the product’s main ingredient, which may include a meat source such as chicken or beef, and must contain 95% of the main ingredient.
- The ingredient list: Ingredients in the pet food are listed in descending order, starting with the ingredient with the highest weight and ending with the ingredient with the lowest weight.
- The pet food flavor: The flavor of the pet food should be derived from a natural meat source that is palatable to pets. For example, “chicken flavor” should be produced from whole chicken. If a pet food is artificially flavored, it must be specifically mentioned.
- The standards: Every pet food must meet specific legal and quality requirements. Organizations like the FDA and AAFCO oversee these standards in the US while the Pet Food Industry Association of Australia (PFIAA) and Food Standards Agency (FSA) determine them in Australia and the UK, respectively.
Identifying Meat Sources
The first ingredient in a good quality pet food must be a specific protein source, such as chicken or salmon, not an ingredient listed merely as “meat.” If an ingredient is listed as just ‘meat,’ the chances are high that this item is rendered meat or meat meal.
What is meat meal in pet food?
Meat meal, is a product of the rendering industry is typically about 50% animal protein, 30%, ash, 10% animal fat, and the rest water. As cited by AAFCO, rendered meat is considered any “product from mammal tissues devoid of impurities like blood, hair, hoof, or horn.” This means that the ‘meat’ can be sourced from any animal and/or animal parts,
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