Pet Food Regulations

Made in the USA

Did you know that the ‘Made in the USA’ claim on a pet food or pet treat requires that food or treat to be made with 100% US ingredients? Apparently many pet food regulatory authorities don’t know this. Why else would so many pet foods be making that Made in the USA statement on their labels when all ingredients are not of US origin?

Easily, the Made in the USA claim on a pet food or pet treat label has the power to influence a potential buyer. Since the 2007 pet food recall that killed thousands of pets due to Chinese imported ingredients and in light of seven years of dying pets linked to Chinese imported jerky treats, pet food consumers in the United States are no longer putting their trust in foods or treats sourced outside the US.

Perhaps that consumer lack of trust of Chinese sourced ingredients are why we are seeing so many pet food and pet treat labels with the words Made in the USA on them, some even including the American flag on their label. Existing regulations, found very easily on the AAFCO website, require that the “Made in the USA” label claim be held to some very strict requirements.

The AAFCO established regulations state

The rule states that: “all or virtually all means” that all significant parts and processing that go into the product must be of US origin. That is, the product should contain no – or negligible – foreign content. So just putting together ingredients inside the US is not enough. Additionally, just getting ingredients from a broker within the US is not enough. If ingredients are imported, then it is very difficult to justify the use of the phrase “Made in the USA.”

If existing regulations were enforced, this should mean a consumer could purchase this product trusting that all ingredients in this pet food or treat are sourced from the United States. But, is this regulation enforced?

Below are just a few example of labels that I found with the Made in the USA statement or a variety thereof…



Blue Buffalo would only tell me they try to source most ingredients from the US, and when they couldn’t find that ingredient in the US they would source outside. They would not disclose what those other countries might be.



Authority is a Petsmart brand. The company spokesperson told me “to my knowledge everything in the dry foods are sourced from the US.” I asked what about the country of origin of all vitamins and minerals? Again was told “to my knowledge the country of origin of all ingredients including vitamins and minerals are sourced from the US.”




BilJac stated all ingredients originate from the US with the exception of one vitamin from Europe.



Castor & Pollux

Castor & Pollus stated most ingredients originate from the US with the exception of some vitamins/minerals from Germany and Japan.


Dogswell Dogswellcanback

Previous information Dogswell provided for Petsumer Report stated ingredients are sourced “Mainly U.S. and Canada; sometimes sourced from Phillippines, India, Italy, New Zealand, Morocco, Germany, France, Switzerland, Indonesia, Egypt, and/or the Netherlands.  Some vitamins and minerals sourced from China.”




It is a little difficult to tell in the Natura picture, but their claim reads a bit different than others. It states “Made by Natura in our Freemont Nebraska plant.”  Per the Natura website – tomatoes used in pet foods are sourced from Israel, sunflower oil sourced from Argentina, vitamins sourced from Canada, France, Germany, India, Netherlands, Scotland, and Switzerland.




Previous contact with Nutrish pet food stated ingredients sourced from US with the exception of Lamb from New Zealand & Australia, Olive Oil from Spain, Alfalfa from France, some Flaxseed from Canada, Tomato powder from Israel & Germany, Iron oxide from Germany, B vitamins from China.




Nutro told me they try to source locally, but some ingredients are sourced overseas.



Science Diet

Science Diet states things a little differently; “Made in our USA Facilities with Natural Ingredients from North America & Europe” (at least disclosing some country of origin information).




A Wellness representative wasn’t available for immediate questions, but from previous contact the company stated “95% of all ingredients are US or Canadian ingredients, 4% (lamb) from New Zealand, and less than 2% ingredients are purchased internationally.”


If the label says “Made in the USA” the ingredients inside that bag or can should be held to the regulations behind that statement. When will pet food consumers be protected by regulatory authorities?


Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
Association for Truth in Pet Food

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May 19, 2014

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  1. Casey says:

    “When will pet food consumers be protected by regulatory authorities?”

    Answer: not any time soon, apparently.

    • Ann says:

      Some companies like Merrick state their country of origin. When I see country of origin specifically stated on the package label, I choose it over one that says only Made in USA. Hopefully more pet food labels will begin listing the country of origin so that consumers can buy with more confidence. If it doesn’t state such, I just assume it comes from elsewhere and sometimes will call the company to ask them directly before I purchase.

      • Susan says:

        This is 2 years old I see but I wonder if pet food will also be affected the new bill that passed through Congress and signed by the President. Basically, Big AG can out source any and everything to foreign countries (read China) and they don’t have to disclose country of origin any longer. I presume this will also mean pet foods too.

        Buy local and make your own food.

  2. And I thought I was the only one who took pictures of foods in the pet store! Do the employees follow you around too? 😉

  3. ellie says:

    It would appear that the inclusion of the words “virtually all” are being abused by the pet food companies. Why did they have to use such a phrase anyway? “All” should mean ALL!
    There are way too many laws and regulations in this country that can be overlooked by the powers that be. It seems our politicians and bureaucrats are very selective about what they enforce.

  4. Michelle says:

    I was told by a pet food company that if it says “MADE in the USA” it is MADE in the USA. It can still outsource and get ingredients from other countries.

    It is truly getting ridiculous… and making me do raw, which I can make with grass-fed beef and organic veggies and fruit. It is the only way I can know what he is really eating.

    I do feed some Orijen… I think the company is fabulous – however they are only 70 miles from a HORRIFIC oil producer which spews out tons of toxins into the air and the water.

    We live in a very toxic world. We can only do the best we can do. But it would be nice if pet food companies were actually honest.

    • Regina says:

      Michelle, you make a very good point. You do all that you can to feed the best possible food to your pets, but, 70 miles away . . . .
      We all do the best we can, but there are so many factors that are beyond our control.

      Since we can’t control everything, we can at least use the best food possible, and avoid known crap foods (that are filled with corn, soy, wheat, and byproducts that are not named for exactly what they are) . . . and then we just hope for the best.

  5. Kim says:

    There is an organic pet treat at Trader Joes that doesn’t state where it is made. When I asked the manager at TJ’s he told me that if it doesn’t state anything, then it was made in the USA. Is this true? I would think they would want to make it perfectly clear that it was made in the US and WANT to list it on the package. This is very suspicious to me 🙁

    • Susan Thixton says:

      All pet foods and treats are supposed to have contact information for the manufacturer. They are not required to state where the product is made. But no, if it doesn’t say anything it does not guarantee it is made in the US.

    • Alice says:

      I was told that Trader Joes will not sell anything that comes from China. They also use non GMO veggies, flour etc. in all of their products. I will have to do some research to confirm.

  6. Holly Rist says:

    Interesting, that Blue wouldn’t tell you what other countries they may get their ingredients from. On their Face Book page, when asked about where their ingredients are sourced, they always reply that most ingredients are from the US, with the possible exception of lamb, which may come from New Zealand, rabbit, that may come from France and vitamins that may come from European sources, but that nothing is from China.

    • Susan Thixton says:

      They had answered these questions from me in the past – but didn’t want to today. I wondered if the Purina lawsuit had anything to do with this. I even tried to pick out an ingredient or two from the ingredient list of the treats pictured above asking specifically about those – the representative kept saying she didn’t have that information.

  7. Gitta says:

    It seems to me, this is a very confusing subject and governed by different agencies. To make matters worse, there are exemptions which may be legally used by pet food makers.…-origin-claims
    In other words, where a product is labeled or otherwise advertised with an unqualified “Made in USA” claim, it should contain only a de minimis, or negligible, amount of foreign content. Although there is no single “bright line” to establish when a product is or is not “all or virtually all” made in the United States, there are a number of factors that the Commission will look to in making this determination.

    I remember seeing a 93% rule on the US Customs website, but couldn’t easily find it just now.

    So, yes, there is the deliberate appearance of 100%. Yet the law seems to allow a fair amount of wiggle room. Since I doubt vitamin and mineral mixes make up 7% of a food, that would not violate the labeling requirments. As I understand it.

    • Regina says:

      It’s interesting that this law allows “wiggle room” in light of all the “zero-tolerance” rules and laws elsewhere that allow for NO wiggle room, even when some unforeseen situation arises that was not written into the law and you’ve got some kid caught up in a drug law because he’s got asthma . . . sorry, that’s a rant for another day.

      Bottom line: Country of origin labeling doesn’t seem to me to be something that needs “wiggle room”. We’re dealing with factual information that is not open to interpretation. If 100% of something comes from USA, then you get the label . . . If 93% of your food comes from USA, state that 93% comes from USA. How difficult is that? Even if most of your products have ingredients that all come from USA, but you’ve got a couple of products that only fit the 93%, each package gets its own label, so it’s a simple enough request. (well, I guess until the lawyers get involved!!!)

  8. Aimee says:

    This comes up in several conversations in our store when they say they only by USA made products. I said well yes it is made in their USA facility but most vitamins are sourced out of the USA. Most customers are okay with this as long as none of the products are coming from china. I agree it really needs to be worded better and everyone should be more informed.

  9. june lay says:

    97 percent usa means by volume in many cases so that can leave all vitamins by volume or weight less than 1 percent can be outsourced from china unless guaranteed not. Misleading! This is why I formulate diets from our human food!

  10. Jody says:

    There is a petition on to sign, 3,482 signatures still needed but it is to stop Walgreens from stocking jerky dog treats from China on their shelves. Right now they have 19 products on their website despite this woman’s plea to them that her beloved dog, Heidi, died just after ingesting 2 treats. There are over 3,000 complaints to FDA and over 500 dog deaths associated with these treats. Help her make a difference. Go to and sign her petition… Restore Our Trust! Keep Dangerous Dog Treats Off The Shelves.

  11. Joe says:

    THANK YOU THANK YOU! for exposing the lies of these companies. I have been going thru the same things with Dog food saying it US made, but after digging, finding out its not.
    Merrick and PetCurrean are not 100% American or Canadian made. They have Germany, Japan, Malaysia, etc. in it too. I am absolutely SHOCKED that these companies aren’t sued for fraud for advertising its “US Made” or “Canada Made”, when its not. I just wish i could find a legit, ALL AMERICAN, dog food that wont sicken or kill my dog.

  12. Koti says:

    I was wondering about treats that are made in china? I have been doing the pork chomps brand because I dont do rawhide because of the non digestable nature of the product, they have been fine with them so far, no upset tummies, I realized today it was made in china, should I just finish them and not buy any more? They were expensive and I hate wasting the money :/ I havent been able to find a chew that is durable, made in us, and NOT rawhide and ive been looking for awhile. I know bullies and antlers are good but I want variety, and the Himalayans dont last too too long with my girl

  13. Patty says:

    Is there a grain-free food (wet and dry) that is made in the U.S. using only U.S. ingredients ? As a veterinarian, I used to recommend EVO, but they had too many recalls for contamination. I am retired now and I have been recommending Wellness Core to my friends and family (and feed it to my own dog), but I’d like the real facts as I can’t trust the reps on the phone when I call for info. Thanks for your help.

    • Alice says:

      Unfortunately Merrick was bought out by Purina and I don’t trust them. It breaks my heart because my dogs loved Merrick and did so well on it. I now feed them Fromm and they seem to like it and are doing well on it so far. Time will tell…..

    • Judy kayton says:

      It now says on the wellness core label from China. My puppy won’t eat it smells terrible sent it back

    • Dave says:

      Look at a new product called Raw Wild. It is from the US, made from wild elk and deer from the Rocky Mountains. As I understand it, there are a few vitamins that, because of FDA regulations, cannot be manufactured in the US. Therefore, any dog food that has added vitamins cannot be 100% made in the US. As I read the Raw Wild web site, they say they are 99.4% raw elk and deer with the .6% being added vitamins and mineral, with only a single vitamin that is sourced from Switzerland.

  14. Sondra says:

    So, did you ever find ANY dry dog food made from 100% USA ingredients??

  15. Robert says:

    Was buying call of the wild but found out some ingredients are sourced out of the country. Is there any All USA dog food?

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