Truth in Advertising Laws Do Not Apply to Pet Food
Federal Trade Commission Act Laws say one thing; AAFCO Pet Food regulations say something completely different. Laws that require advertisers of every other product sold in the U.S. to be truthful, do not apply to dog food or cat food.
Directly from the pages of The Federal Trace Commission’s website, “Advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive”. To the complete opposite, AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials) regulations state “the label of a pet food may include an unqualified claim, directly or indirectly”. EXCUSE ME? A direct unqualified claim is certainly not truthful and it is definitely deceptive. Does anybody of authority care about this?
The FTC’s website continues:
“What makes an advertisement deceptive?”
“According to the FTC’s Deception Policy Statement, an ad is deceptive if it contains a statement – or omits information – that:
Is likely to mislead consumers acting reasonably under the circumstances; and
Is “material” – that is, important to a consumer’s decision to buy or use the product.”
YES pet food labels and pet food advertising that make ‘direct unqualified claims’ mislead consumers! YES dog food and cat food ‘direct unqualified statements’ on labels and advertising is ‘material’ to a consumer’s decision to buy or use the product! But no one of authority seems to care.
Let’s look at some examples of pet food advertising …
“Pro-Active nutrition for a Long and Healthy Life”
“Nutritionally Complete for Healthy Body Weight”
Please note! The above statements are legally allowed per AAFCO regulations despite the fact they may or may not be true.
Can you imagine if a fast food restaurant advertised their chicken sandwich or hamburger as ‘Lunch for a Long and Healthy Life’? Or another fast food chain claiming ‘Meals Nutritionally Complete for Healthy Body Weight’? The FTC would come down on them so quickly the sixty second commercial would barely be over before it was demanded to be taken off the air. Fines and media attention would surround the fast food chain. Every newspaper and television station in the country would be reporting on XYZ Fast Food misleading consumers with false statements. Yet the FTC does nothing about pet food advertising.
Of course pet owners want their pets to live longer, be healthy, and eat a premium natural food! Of course these advertising tag lines influence pet owner purchases. Hello…FTC…are you paying attention to this? Is anyone paying attention? AAFCO regulations allow pet food to make direct unqualified claims, the FDA flatly accepts AAFCO’s ‘work’, and everyone of authority seems to turn a blind eye to it all!
If you are angry at Pet Food for misleading consumers, consider this…if the IRS told you they would like for you to pay your taxes but you don’t have to, would you pay taxes? Would you send the IRS a big fat check every April 15th even though you didn’t have to? The blame for this atrocity lies with those that make the regulations – AAFCO; and those that don’t bother to enforce Federal Laws – the FDA, the FTC, and members of Congress.
By the way, AAFCO regulations do NOT override FTC Federal laws. AAFCO doesn’t take responsibility for their actions by continually stating they only ‘recommend regulations’. The FDA doesn’t take responsibility for their actions by stating AAFCO writes the rules; yet they blindly follow AAFCO’s every decision. (I wonder if AAFCO recommended the FDA jump off the roof, if they’d do it?) Each State Department of Agriculture as well, typically accepts AAFCO rules and regulations without question (although some states have minor variations).
Lesson to learn…Keep remembering pet food regulations allow dog food and cat food manufacturers to do things that NO OTHER INDUSTRY can. Unlike tobacco, alcohol and even the pharmaceutical industry, pet food is allowed to violate several Federal Laws (Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, Federal Trade Commission Act) openly and without any repercussions. Warn every pet owner you know.
Please know, there are high quality dog foods and cat foods out there, learn a few things to understand the difference. Read ingredients, understand a few definitions, call the manufacturer and ask questions. But definitely do not believe everything you read on a pet food label or see during a pet food commercial.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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