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The Impossible is Possible

The Impossible is Possible

This recent AAFCO meeting (July 2014) was the best and the worst AAFCO meeting I’ve ever attended – all in one 3 day experience. AAFCO is an impossible situation. But…the impossible will prove to be possible. Change of attitude and shift in direction.

This is not a quick read article. What is said here cannot be stated briefly/quickly. But it is VERY important and has a extremely good ending. The parts explained in detail below are…

The Impossible Situations

Four major impossible situations of pet food regulations (AAFCO related).

FDA Suggestion – fix it ourselves.

How we can and will!

Contest – win an AAFCO pen!

Seriously…you can win an AAFCO pen!

The gist of the story… Instead of fighting those that have no intention of ever changing law or ever providing full disclosure to the quality of pet products they sell, we can choose to work differently. Discovery of the good, supporting them, and letting all others fight amongst themselves.

Impossible situation number 1.

I’ve lost count of the number of State Department of Agriculture employees (AAFCO representatives) that have told me their departments – pet food or animal feed – don’t have the staff they need. Two or three State Department of Agriculture employees are the only people to investigate sick pets or sick livestock due to a food/feed. The same two or three inspect all pet food or animal feed manufacturing facilities of their state, inspect all pet food/animal feed retail outlets, inspect and approve 5,000 to 10,000 different pet foods and treats (dog, cat, hamster, rabbit, ferret, bird…) labels and another 1,000 different animal feed labels (cow, pig, sheep, horse, chicken, duck…) sold within state boundaries each year. The same two or three are responsible for understanding the nutritional requirements of each species of animal their state sells or manufacturers pet food or animal feed for, what can cause a nutritional health concern for these animals, and how to properly investigate a suspicious food/feed incident. Responsibilities that should require a team of veterinarians, toxicologists, and investigators are often the job of one or two State Department of Agriculture employees.

Impossible situation number 2.

The same two or three employees of most State Department of Agriculture also hold the AAFCO responsibilities of their state too. They hold the power to approve or disapprove a nutritional change for an animal or a new pet food/animal feed ingredient. But most that hold this power are agriculture people (having background in agriculture), they are not veterinarians or toxicologists. An already overworked government employee is put into situations that require them to make decisions that are (frankly) out of their realm of expertise and they have little time to investigate (read the science) prior to voting to approve or disapprove a change in law that could seriously change the life of an animal. Responsibilities that should fall on the shoulders of a team of veterinarians, toxicologists and nutritional experts become the responsibility of the same two or three State Department of Agriculture employees.

Impossible situation number 3.

The laws that govern pet food and animal feed in each state are as diverse as the geographic regions of the U.S. they make up. Just as example…Arizona has no pet food specific law, Colorado does. Delaware has minimal requirements for pet food – such as inspecting the guaranteed analysis statement on pet food labels. Idaho and Louisiana have pet food regulations but they “prioritize” enforcement based on animal safety. Nevada has no pet food specific law and South Carolina’s pet food laws haven’t been updated since the 1970’s. How can each state protect the pets and animals within their state boundaries if there are no laws or antiquated laws to base that protection on?

And lastly…Impossible situation number 4.

Add all of the above impossible situations together and you’ve got an overworked state government employee with incredible responsibilities on their shoulders with little to no state laws to back them up (and this is just referencing those honest people trying to do the right thing). In walks industry – powerful industries with even more powerful trade/lobby groups. They befriend, pressure, and offer to ‘help’ make the impossible situations of the overworked state government employee with incredible responsibilities go away. They use every tactic known to man in order to sway that vote on a new ingredient or a change in nutritional requirements. The tired, overworked, out of their realm of expertise state government employee often just takes the path of least resistance…they vote yes (agree with industry).

And then we have those that are not honest. To date there is no public evidence that State Department of Agriculture/AAFCO representatives have been ‘under the table’ influenced by industry or trade groups. But…this wouldn’t be the first industry to ‘buy’ the inspection report or lab result they wanted would it? Many ‘things’ happen when huge profits are on the line.

Under existing conditions, AAFCO and their State Department of Agriculture members cannot effectively protect animals without the support from their respective states. State governments are expecting these people to be veterinary experts, toxicology experts, nutrition experts, law enforcement and investigators all wrapped up in a two or three person staffed office. Why does anyone bother to develop laws if only a handful of states are implementing them and even fewer have the resources to enforce them? What started more than 100 years ago as a handful of manufacturers producing a few livestock feeds has grown into multiple multi-billion dollar a year industries covering thousands of different foods, treats, and supplements made from GMO, non-GMO, national and international ingredients, chemicals, pesticides, dyes, preservatives and denaturing agents. All of these products are governed by too few, out of their expertise, overworked individuals  – some of which are good people trying their best to do the right thing, others are not so good people willingly manipulated by industry. It is an impossible situation.

I by no means forgive any of them for not doing their jobs completely. Regardless to a two or three person State Department of Agriculture staff facing tremendous circumstances, this is not meant to be an excuse for these agencies. This ‘truth’ is meant to clearly define the problem every pet food consumer faces. I have suggested to many a State Department of Agriculture they have no business approving products for sale if the state cannot properly protect the pets consuming them. Our pets provide state government an estimated $6 billion dollars a year in revenue (sales tax and product registration fees alone). We certainly are not getting our tax dollar money’s worth.

FDA Suggestion – fix it ourselves.

In our meeting with FDA, essentially the FDA admitted it is an impossible task to change federal law and the laws within each of the 50 states. It is admittedly impossible for government to provide consumers information on which pet foods are made from legal by definition food ingredients and which pet foods are made from illegal by definition food/feed ingredients (such as 4D meats, pesticide contaminated ingredients, meats from rejected for use in human foods, and so on). But…and this is big…the FDA suggested that we can do it ourselves – we can be the ‘fix’ ourselves.

We can scream until we are blue in the face at AAFCO, state government, FDA and anyone else that will listen – or we can take the proverbial bull by the horns and change things ourselves. Instead of battling to change law, we change our direction. The perfect example – the Non-GMO project.

Educated consumers wanted to know what foods contain GM ingredients – they petitioned, pleaded, and begged lawmakers to require GM labeling of foods. When that didn’t happen, one determined group addressed the problem themselves. They developed the non-GMO project – a certification system providing consumers with trusted proof a food is GMO free. Today they have verified thousands of products to be GMO free, each displaying a simple Non-GMO Project Verified symbol on the label alerting the consumer to the non-GMO status.

So, we (pet food consumers) can continue to fight an impossible situation. We can tackle each state government laws and federal laws one by one, along with tackling the billions of dollars of influence that multi-billion dollar a year industries and trade groups can buy. Or – we can change our perspective and just do it ourselves. We can raise the bar in pet food to a whole new level by taking the Pledge to Quality and Origin and making it a certification program – certifying to pet food consumers the (certified) pet foods are made with legal food ingredients (not made from the hideous wastes allowed in pet food) and certifying the country of origin of each ingredient.

Personally, there is no other option. We have to do it ourselves. Without billions of dollars and well established lobby experts behind us, continuing on the same path is fighting a losing battle. Personally, I’m tired of beating the same dead horse (that will end up being rendered into pet food anyway). I am ready to turn a new page and leave all those impossible situations behind. We all deserve better – our pets deserve better – and I’m certain we can get it through pet food certification.

If you are familiar with the Non-GMO Project – you already have a good understanding of what we will be developing (if you aren’t familiar with this program – please read on their website – it is fabulous). But very basically our certification will be 1) USDA inspected and approved ingredients, and 2) verification to country of origin of all ingredients – the two very basic pieces of information that all pet food consumers should be assured of, but are not. The certification program will be part of Association for Truth in Pet Food (not TruthaboutPetFood.com).

One last thing…a contest. The prize – this beautiful AAFCO pen (barely used). You’ll be the envy of all your pet food consumer friends with this!   AAFCOpen

Here’s how can you win this beautiful AAFCO pen…

What should be the name of our certification program? The Non-GMO project uses ‘Non GMO Project Verified’. What should ours be? We will be certifying a pet food/treat’s use of legal food ingredients and certifying the country of origin of all ingredients. The best suggestion (ok, maybe two – I have another pen) will win the pen(s). (No guarantee the winning name will become the official name of our certification project – but I do guarantee at least one of you will win a pen.) Post your suggestions below in comments – and make certain to use a valid email address if you really want that AAFCO pen!

The future of pet food is going to get better. As the FDA suggested, we – consumers – are going to make it better! More details of our project soon (hopeful by month’s end).

 

Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

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

What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
Is your dog or cat eating risk ingredients?  Chinese imports?  Petsumer Report tells the ‘rest of the story’ on over 2500 cat foods, dog foods,  and pet treats.  30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee. www.PetsumerReport.com

 

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2014 List
Susan’s List of trusted pet foods.  Click Here

 

 

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60 comments

  1. Pet Consumer’s Protection Association (tack verified on end if compliant)

    Pet Food Protection Association (tack verified on end if compliant)

    Pet Food Truth Project (tack verified on end if compliant)

  2. It’s really a simple solution…it’s in the hand of the consumers. When we educate other pet owners to NOT buy pet foods/treats with crap ingredients we force the pet food industry to comply with our demands. There are too many quality foods out there and avoiding the foods with crap ingredients is easy. Money talks…it’s that simple, and it’s in the consumers hands, not the pet food industry nor big government.

    • Agreed. Facebook is a wonderful tool. Also, when I’m in pet stores, I engage others – staff, vendors and customers – and talk about the current state of pet food and this site’s mission. Most people are unaware, but I’m making my little dent wherever I have the opportunity. Grassroots, people. We can make it happen.

  3. Okay, I’ll take a shot…
    “FIDO APPROVED” OR “FIDO CERTIFIED” with the tag line:
    “FOOD WORTH DROOLING OVER”.

    I know, I know…just a start. ;)

  4. Honest and Transparent
    Food not Feed

  5. PAWs Verified to go along with Dinner PAWsible and the 4 PAW rating for the petfoods.

  6. Pet Food Safety Project
    Safe Pet Food Project
    Association for Safe Pet Food
    What’s in Your Pet Food Project
    The Truth About Pet Food Project

  7. I never post any comments, mainly because I feel as though I am way out of my league here. I work in a pet store and have worked in the pet field (various pet stores, even dog/cat food companies, as a Rep.) for roughly 5 – 6 years now. I think I have a fair amount of knowledge on pet food. I go out of my way to educate myself, and then share this knowledge with people. I have been deemed the “go to” girl for information on pet food. Many of my co-workers look to me for answers when it comes to hard questions that customers have about their pet’s food…

    None of this is very relevant to my question, I just thought I would give a little bit of my story. My question is this…. What company, what organization, or what group do people need to be a part of in order to create change? Do we need to get into job positions within AAFCO? Or somewhere else? I know we can’t all just flood the pet industry with honest people, but… let’s say there are some people out there who want to bring about change to the pet food world, what job positions would be ideal for them to be in? (Reasonable positions though. Shooting for President of the U.S. and exacting change that way is a bit far-fetched…)

    I am just curious, because as a young person (26 years old), I am still unsure of where I want to go in life, career-wise. But, I have some college education behind me, plus the years of pet experience (working in these various places, plus being a dog trainer), and I would love to stay in the pet industry, because I am very passionate about it. I am determined, even on my very small scale, to make changes, to show the people I talk to every day that what their pet is eating is very bad for them, and I give them the knowledge on why, and where they can go to find more information. If I can do this on a much grander scale… Even better! Maybe this question won’t have a clear answer, I don’t know. But… I thought I’d take a stab in the dark, and ask it anyways. :)

    I would want someone to stand up for me and my dog (a 6 year old Siberian Husky, named Leia), if I couldn’t do it myself (from lack of information, lack of knowing).

    • Cort – you are not out of your league on this website. This site is pet owners – which you are one of. But to respond to your question – I’m not sure what the answer is. There is no one way or one group to work with or work for to make changes in pet food. We didn’t get into this situation overnight – and it won’t be fixed overnight. It’s going to take all of us – consumers, consumer advocates, pet stores, veterinarians, groomers, trainers, kennels and even pet food manufacturers to make the changes happen.

      • Just as most other pet owners probably feel, I wish there was a way to bring about change, or at least get the wheels turning in that direction, from a specific point or angle. I do everything I can to educate myself about pet food, because it matters to me. It matters, not only for my own pets, but for the people I help on a daily basis. It’s sad how corrupt some places can be…

        I recently subscribed to the Petsumer Report, and was browsing through some of the higher selling foods that we carry at my job. I was looking through the ingredients for Blue Buffalo (our top selling food, as far as Holistic foods go) and was surprised to see that they get some of their vitamins/supplements from China! And I must not have ever read the label that well… because I saw that they also have the Caramel coloring in their foods as well. And yet, this company claims that “all of their ingredients come from the U.S.” How can such a statement be made? And, they are one of the biggest advocates for raising money to fight pet cancer, and yet they knowingly put ingredients in the food that show a trend of causing cancer. This astounds me, because so many consumers are oblivious to this fact – for that matter, most workers in the pet industry are oblivious to this fact! It’s not even this company alone, many “holistic” and “healthy” foods get some vitamin/supplement or ingredient from China, and it’s devastating to know that these companies blatantly lie to the people they are offering their products to. (I know, it’s just like every other company in the world…)

        But, our pets have no voice, WE are their voices. And our voices? Well, you would think it should be these companies and organizations – the FDA, AAFCO, the vets, manufacturers, etc. But, it’s not. Everyone has a personal gain somewhere, whether it be making money, getting more business, getting a kickback or profit somewhere along the way…. No one is really speaking up for us and our pets. It’s sad that we are the only ones who have no personal gain in any of this. Our only “gain” in all of this is to have long, happy, healthy lives with our pets, and that’s not very selfish at all.

        I think I will look into the job-hunting further. If one person can wiggle their way in somewhere, with the intent of bringing about change… then maybe more people will do it. If we can get the corrupt people out of these positions, and bring in those who do want to make a difference, then maybe something good will happen. Now, if only we had a way of making this all happen over night……… :)

        (Thanks for reading through my rant! I don’t have too many people I can vent out my frustration to about these matters. Most people look at me like I’m crazy when I start rambling about pet food and everything surrounding it.)

        • Cort…I wish I could buy from YOU!

        • Cort, I commend your desire to help bring about change. Just talking to everyone that you come across about the pet food issue is quite a big help. If enough people start realizing what’s going on, the sales of crap foods will decline, and we all know that money is the only motivator.

          As for your desire to get a job somewhere, and bring about change from within . . . Sometimes that can be the worst plan of action. It could just crush you and drive you crazy, banging your head against the wall. Now, if you and a bunch of other like-minded people joined up together, working to wrest power from the people who are making all of the wrong decisions, well, there’s strength in numbers. I just would hate to see you burnt out from being in a job that sucks out your soul and saps your energy. I speak from experience with a somewhat similar situation, and I don’t wish that on anyone.

        • I always point out to people that the less they spend on pet food, they more they will spend on vet bills, so it is no savings at all.
          There are some small manufacturers of pet food, notably the Honest kitchen and Artisan that make dried, flaked pet food, NOT kibble. They are labeled as human grade, so I assume that means I can eat them safely. I am moving more toward making food for my dogs rather than buying most of what is on the market. I’m going to get the book mentioned in another post.

      • If this project flies, there will be an absolute need for people to do the verifications: not only laboratory analysis, but also checking sources, and other background work necessary.

    • Cort, your post is the first from a pet owner looking for a career that could help change PF policies and practices. So commendable! Thank you for caring!! Sometimes the chicken really does come before the egg (or is it the other way around?) Meaning that I don’t think Susan ever envisioned herself a SME in PF, the industry and government agencies pertaining to it. She started from personal experience, by gathering the facts, connecting the dots, and communicating them to consumers. What she became is a truth about pet food journalist, expert and advocate.

      All change begins with communication. In this day and age with social media …communication is all powerful. If you were going to consider a possible career maybe it could be in journalism. Get a good paying “day job” while you consider how to best share the knowledge you’re gaining about pet food. And “dig” for more and more truth about PF. Someday Susan will need a successor in the field, so young people like yourself represent the trend of the future. Another area to consider is within the media and advertising, which is all powerful (influential) today. You can see how BB is deceiving consumers (for example) which is no different than most other PF brands doing the same thing. Wouldn’t it be nice to have honest, legitimate, advertising representing all the PF companies doing things correctly? Wouldn’t it be nice to even give them a voice or visibility? A lot of times they survive only through word of mouth, and recommendations from honest Pet Supply Store’s staff.

      And finally there is a great need for pet nutritionists to guide owners in the right feeding of their companions. Is there a niche (without having to invest in Vet College) to become an expert in this field? Good luck with your search and be sure to keep us posted here on the website. You are a great contributor!! Thank you so much for caring!

    • Cort – In your conversations with pet food shoppers in your store: if they complain about the price, remind them that a trip to the vet, when your dog or cat gets sick, is also expensive. Their illness might happen immediately, but over time. And by that time it may be too late. You have a good heart and also have this opportunity to make change.

  8. Approved by Pet Parents for Happy, Healthy Pets

  9. Tee 'n' the Wildlife

    CERTIFIED: Legal Ingredients
    CERTIFIED: Country of Origin

  10. Trustworthy Food at Last

  11. True Food for Pets
    Know the Food, Pledged as True
    Real Food, Full Transparency

  12. The Transparency You’ve Been Waiting For!

  13. Dolores McDonnell

    Paws (insert artistic happy pet face)
    Truth Certified

  14. My idea needs some tweaking but here is the essence: NO MORE LIES – which stands for
    N= Natural and
    O= Organic food

    M= Manufactured by
    O= Overcoming aafco/fda
    R= Regulations
    E= Exceeding but not

    L= Limited to
    I= Ingredients from
    E= Excellent
    S= Sources

  15. VIA Pet Food Project. (VIA=Verified, Inspected, Approved). If a pet food is accepted, it would have VIA Certification.

  16. CERTIFIED SAFE by Truth in Pet Food Advocates (all ingredients have been approved and certified to be safe for your dog to eat)

  17. IACOI
    (INSPECTED APPROVED COUNTRY ORIGIN INGREDIENTS)

  18. Sadly, many pet owners are lazy and will buy the cheapest dog food at the most convenience place. Big box stores like PetCo and Petsmart are going to carry the brands that advertise the most, not the best for the pet.
    We need more independent pet stores that will go in and provide top quality products including pet food. Have employee’s that know and will talk to customers about what is best for their pet. Prices have to be competitive with the supermarket and big box stores. Quality at a reasonable price and near those supermarkets. This will not be easy and it will take dedicated shop owners to stick with it and know that they will slowly build a loyal following. If we can make the better quality pet food available to the average pet owner, many will switch. If you have a local store like this, get their business cards and hand them out to everyone you can. Ask for brochures on the better pet food and hand them out too. Some people will still not care and feed junk food to their pets, but there is a good sized group that can be educated.

  19. SAFE Pet Food verified

  20. Approved pet food fit for humans

  21. There is a lot of logic to your proposal. I agree that this is probably the most effective way to go. My suggestion is just a simple ATPF approved.

  22. “The REAL Deal” because we care.

  23. MFG. GUARANTEED SAFE (made entirely of Human-Quality, Legal Ingredients from the USA)

    (note: this leaves TPF not liable if any mfg. is non-compliant, which is very important)

  24. Ultimately, change is in the hands of the consumers so education is a must. Unfortunately, I’m aware of many pet owners that admit they can’t afford the “high quality” pet food and, instead, buy the cheap commercial brand stuff from their local grocery store. Education is one thing, but economics is quite another. :(

  25. Thank you Susan for donating your time and efforts. Seldom do we see this devotion in today’s society and as a long time (over 40 years) breeder, trainer and exhibitor I sincerely appreciate the frankness as well as the accuracy you incorporate in your columns. However, you can only do so much – the consumer is tasked with the responsibility of how they are going to feed their pets. All of the whining in the world isn’t going to change the situation. You, the owner, make the choice of what to or not to feed.
    Susan and Dr. Cathy Alinovi have written a wonderful, comprehensive, well documented and researched book – “Dinner Pawsible”, full of a wide variety of food sources and recipes.
    As a baby boomer, commercial pet food companies advertised heavily on television (boomers are the original TV generation), convincing us of our lack of ability to feed our own pets ‘properly and with good nutrition’.
    I bought into that rubbish with my first 16 Basenjis. Several of those dogs died with renal failure, had problems with sebaceous cysts, abscesses, coat dander, cancer, liver failure, Cushings disease and a host of other problems. I fed premium dog foods. It took Promise’s Lymphoma, caused by chicken jerky treats, to wake me up.
    No more dog food. No more anything from China.
    I make my own, from the same high quality ingredients I eat. My vet thought I was crazy when I stopped feeding dog food and that it could affect the outcome of Promise’s recovery! She was right – Promise has been in remission 5.5 years now.
    Making your own dog food is time consuming and more expensive but you CAN make food that is BETTER than ANYTHING you can buy off the shelf.
    So, take the bull by the horns (so to speak) and quit procrastinating and whining – quit buying the dog food and make your own. The drop in sales will scare the devil out of the commercial dog food companies. I’ve seen this happen back in the 80’s with the Ethoxyquin boycott.
    Consumers have far more power than they use.

  26. Cande, your letter is a gem. I am so happy to hear of Promise’s remission. I agree wholeheartedly that homemade food is the way to go. I’ve been cooking for my dogs for years, and we have no allergies or illnesses. What we do have are beautiful coats, happy, lively dispositions, good appetites, normal poopie, and excellent vet check-ups. Gums and teeth are healthy too. Happy, healthy dogs are a joy to behold. Yes, I get the looks sometimes when I say I cook for my dogs, but you can’t argue with success. Please give Promise a big, atta girl hug for me.

    • Thanks Jane. Promise went through five rounds of Chemo. The rounds consisted of: Vinchristine, Cytoxan, Vinchristine and Doxorubisin – one injection in the order presented, one per week. Then a week to 2 weeks off, dependent on the results of her weekly CBC w/diff. Promise was weighed to the gram! She was on oral prednisone to alleviate external node enlargement. Prednisone is a mixed bag of good and bad effects, in humans and dogs. It nearly shuts down the immunity system and precipitants have to be ‘weaned’ off it because of the physical dependency that can occur.
      We supplemented Promise with K-9 Immunity by Aloha Chemicals, a preparation derived from 200 different mushrooms, grown in Hawaii. With Promise, it acted like a pseudo-immunity system. She was a very sick girl for six months and I feed her chopped beef hearts, which are nearly pure protein and rich in iron.
      She was pronounced in remission in late April- early May.
      The only notable, lasting side affects are possible damage of joint cartilage in her two front legs, which were catheter sites for all of her IVs. She’s on Metcal, a broad spectrum analgesic, every other day. She is also given tramadol if she’s more painful.
      Considering the national survival rates for LSA Canine, we are extremely fortunate. By all accounts, she was projected to die in September of 2008, without chemo intervention.
      Anyone, who is considering chemo for their dog, must not give the dog prednisone before, as it effects the chemo performance.
      Our bill for this intervention was over $13,000.00.

  27. Can’t think of a good name for the project just now.

    But I think we should stay away from cute and funny. This is serious business undertaken by a serious association representing pet parents. Representing many who have lost beloved companions, many who are still dealing with the aftermath. I also think it should be short.

    • Gitta, you make an excellent point! We should not do anything cute or funny. So many run-of-the-mill entities go for cute or funny, but we definitely want to distinguish this important designation from all the others put forth by “Madison Avenue” types or anyone trying to mislead folks into thinking it’s actually a meaningful designation.

      It should be short, to-the-point, and something that cannot be “bastardized” by less reputable entities like the folks who tried to hijack this website . . . I remember when Susan told us about it, but can’t remember the details.

  28. Food to Live For
    Thrive
    Let them Thrive
    Just Food

  29. Pet Parent Verified Project

  30. “Certified Safe for Pets”.com …the .com so people can go to a website to see exactly what the certification means, as described in your article above. It needs to be super-short, or folks won’t bother to read it (!!!). A nice simple graphic, like the non- GMO folks use (a yellow stalk of wheat in a green box) Maybe be dog sillouette with a cat silouette inside; green and purple/lavender?
    A bit like this:
    http://sonomahumane.org/
    Hey: they’re using green and purple! Any color combo will be in use somehwere, so pick the colors you like.
    OR: on this link: http://www.lagunaveterinaryhospital.com/
    there is a small logo with a paw in a square, with the words “pet health network”…something like that would be ideal: small, simple, instantly recognizable. If I was a graphic artist, I’d do one for you!

  31. How about simply, “AAFCO-approved” . . .

    • Margie, Welcome. You must be new here. We’ve already determined that “AAFCO approved” is meaningless. It is on every bag of food sold, regardless of the quality. AAFCO is just a rubber-stamp thing. That’s why Susan keeps updating us about her battles with them to improve pet food, or at least the truth about what is in the pet food.

  32. “Association for Truth in Pet Food Approved Product.” With a flashy logo of some kind to get consumers’ attention. :)

  33. Safe Pet Food Verification (or Certification)
    Pet Food Safety Verification (or Certification)
    Pet Food Ingredient Safety Verification (or Verified or Certified)
    Pet Food Ingredient Verification (or verified)
    Safety in Pet Food Certified

  34. A recurring comment here is about food safety. All consumers want to be assured of food safety (whether human or PF). Gosh, you would think this could be the very least thing that we’d expect for spending our hard earned dollars, right? Companies can have testing procedures in place and that certainly should be an industry standard. Yet nobody can guarantee safety all the time. If you subscribe to the FDA’s alerts, know that all kinds of food is constantly being recalled. Witness the problem with Wawona’s fruits right now.

    But we CAN identify what basic virtues and advantages we want in a PF in order for it to be recognized and distinguished, like a product that is USDA Inspected & Approved, Human Grade Quality, sourced & manufactured in the US. And then find a way to separately highlight some add-on’s that are important to different kinds of consumers, like organic, non-GMO’d, free of additives, colors, dyes, or whatever the details might be.

    The investigation will always be about how many “perfect” commercial PFs exist (because they aren’t homemade or raw). Yet there’s only about 14 on The List, and 20 having returned the Pledge. Meaning that we’ll have to have a PROCESS that recognizes what the manufacturer is willing to certify to US! So that a “Record of Transparency” exists in order for every consumer to find their own most appropriate product. Our seal, will have to be one of consumer recognized “compliance” rather than concluding on a perfect formula status The Petsumer Report already rates PFs anyway. We must always keep the manufacturers responsible, to protect the Association’s integrity and to avoid inappropriate challenges and arguments.

  35. Although I don’t have any suggestions right at this moment, I do feel that, just like the “Non-GMO Project”, the name should be short and should have an immediate clear reference, i.e., in this case to pets and pet foods. As soon as you see the name, you know immediately what it stands for and you don’t have to look any further as to its meaning. Of those mentioned above, I liked Pet Food Transparency Project and Safe Pet Food Project (variation).

  36. I agree with Regina, Jane Eagle, and Sharon, that the name should be short, simple, to the point, unique, something that rolls off the tongue well, and recognizable, with an eye-catching graphic that could be used on any background. Maybe consider hiring a qualified graphic designer with relevant experience to design a suitable logo for maximum impact.

    The Natural Resources Defense Council used to have a Label Lookup, or a database of claims on products, that they rated based on comprehensiveness, consistency, clarity, transparency, etc. They took it down a while ago and I received conflicting answers as to whether or not it’s coming back, but you can see what it looked like at https://web.archive.org/web/20140103050656/http://www.nrdc.org/living/labels/. I think the program should strive to meet their highest rating to be as reliable and as trustworthy as possible.

    I also noticed that a lot of commenters on this site seem to only ever mention dogs, like a couple of the suggestions pertained to dogs only, and I think that’s really unfair and doing a huge disservice to all the other animals that people keep as pets and who also deserve healthy food. I know ATPF only focuses on cats and dogs (I’m assuming because those are the most popular pets in American and all other pets are considered “exotic”), but in the interest of all the other animals that people share their lives with, I think it should at least try to include them, too.

    • Oh Laura, you’re so right! I think I may even be guilty of mentioning a dog-only focus, and that’s not my intent for this program, either. I once had a ferret as a companion animal. She was very loving, affectionate, curious, and a very fun pet to have. Anyway, because their GI tracts are extremely similar to cat food and many ferret pet parents buy high-end cat foods for their ferrets in lieu of the extremely minimal choices of ferret formulated diets. But that doesn’t mean that ferret formulas should be exempt from this type of program. I also would love to see it expanded to include bird foods as well as including as many other species as possible.

    • I’m also assuming that this would fill the same purpose as The List?

      • This would fill the same purpose as The Pledge to Quality and Origin – actually taking The Pledge to a higher level (verification).

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