Natural has no official definition in pet food regulations. Human grade has no official definition in pet food regulations. So what happens when key marketing tag lines have no official definition? Pet food uses it to make billions off of unsuspecting pet parents. And they aren’t shy about bragging about this either.
Briefly, for those unaware of this mess we call the pet food industry, the FDA is the top dog of pet food safety enforcement. The FDA is supposed to enforce the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (laws), but with pet food they don’t (FDA Compliance Policies provide pet food with loopholes to avoid federal law that other food industries must follow). Right behind the FDA is AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials), comprised of state Department of Agriculture representatives. Mass confusion begins when one learns that not each state within our United States accepts AAFCO regulations – some states have their own pet food standards.
So to wrap up this portion of pet food madness – the federal government agency that is supposed to enforce pet food safety law doesn’t. And on a state level, well, pet food regulations can vary from state to state. Are you confused yet?
Ridiculous mass confusion; especially when you consider this is a multi-billion dollar a year industry. Ridiculous mass confusion especially when you consider that our furry family depends on this food to survive.
But…is this mass confusion and blatant violation of federal food safety law the method to their madness? (or better phrased – the method to their billions?)
In a recent Big Pet Food blog post, Debbie Phillips-Donaldson shared with manufacturers that despite a failing economy, natural pet foods rose 3.5% and natural pet treats rose 10% in 2010. Ah, but the key wording in her post is ‘natural marketing claims’. Again, because AAFCO has no official definition of ‘natural’ pet food and pet treat manufacturers simply make natural ‘claims’ – and unknowing pet parents buy…believing no pet food label would lie to them.
Ms. Phillips-Donaldson last statement in her recent blog post sums up perfectly how Big Pet Food thinks…
“So, even though most countries or regulatory bodies have no legal definition of “natural,” the buzzword has clearly captured consumers’ attention and wallets. It’s a marketing claim that works.”
Thanks Ms. Phillips-Donaldson for your heartfelt advice to pet food manufacturing. It’s comforting to know that my suspicions most of Big Pet Food is only in this for the money are true.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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