Is a 2,000% increase of a required pet food nutrient too much? No established regulatory maximum level of nutrients IS a risk.
Some regulatory authorities test pet food on a regular basis, most of the testing performed is for nutrient requirements (Protein, Fat, Minerals). Most of the time these test results are not public information, but Missouri Department of Agriculture is a regulatory authority that does make results public. Missouri testing results are provided in a database on the agency’s website.
In the past year, Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) tested 24 dry cat foods and 27 dry dog foods for protein, fat, moisture, and required mineral content.
Cat Food Test Results
From the 24 cat foods tested in the past year by MDA, below is a bar graph showing the varying levels of calcium. The first bar is the AAFCO required minimum amount of calcium for adult cat food (0.6%), the second bar is the lowest result of calcium (Royal Canin Feline Care Nutrition Hairball Care Dry Cat Food) and the third bar is the highest result of calcium (Essence Air and Game Fowl Cat Recipe Dry).
Pet food regulations have NO maximum level of calcium established for cat food, so ANY LEVEL (beyond 0.6%) of calcium is acceptable. There is a 500% increase in calcium levels from the required minimum to the highest test result.
Iron results from cat food testing show more dramatic differences. Pet food regulations require a minimum of 80 ppm (parts per million) iron in cat food – no maximum level of iron established for cat food. Lowest result for iron was Iams Proactive Health Urinary Tract Health with Chicken Cat Food, highest result was Essence Ranch and Meadow Cat Recipe Dry.
Even though there is a 1,200% increase in iron levels from the regulatory minimum to the highest result – both cat foods are considered “Complete and Balanced“.
Pet food regulations require a minimum of 5 ppm Copper to meet the “Complete and Balanced” cat food claim. From regulatory testing, the lowest result was of Top Kat Premium Cat Food Gourmet Formula Chicken, Turkey and Fish Flavors – the highest result was of Purely Feline Indoor Cat Ocean Whitefish & Turkey Meal Recipe Cat Food.
From required minimum of copper in cat food to the highest level tested by MDA – there was an 780% increase of copper.
Pet food regulations require a minimum of 75 ppm Zinc to meet the “Complete and Balanced” cat food claim. Regulatory testing found the lowest level of zinc in Top Kat Premium Cat Food Gourmet Formula Chicken, Turkey and Fish Flavors – the highest level of zinc in Whole Hearted Grain Free Salmon Recipe All Life States Cat Food Dry.
And again, there is a 550% increase of zinc from required minimum to the highest level tested by MDA when both pet foods are considered “Complete and Balanced“.
Dog Food Test Results
Over the past year, Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) tested 27 dry dog foods.
Pet food regulations require a minimum of 5.5% Fat in an adult dog food, no maximum level is established in regulation. MDA test results showed Rachael Ray Nutrish Turkey, Brown Rice & Venison Recipe Dog Food Dry as the lowest result for fat – Extreme Dog Fuel 30-20 Pro-Athlete as the highest result.
MDA test results showed an increase of 244% from minimum required fat to maximum result.
Pet food regulations require an adult dog food to contain a minimum of 0.08% sodium – no maximum level of sodium is established in regulations. The lowest level of sodium in dog foods tested by MDA was for Canidae Grain Free Pure Ancestral Freeze-Dried Raw Coated Avian Formula Dog Food – the highest level of sodium in dog foods was for Rachael Ray Nutrish Turkey, Brown Rice & Venison Recipe Dog Food Dry.
There was a 687% increase of sodium from the minimum required sodium level to the highest results.
Pet food regulations require an adult dog food to contain a minimum of 5 ppm Manganese, regulations have no maximum level established. The lowest level of managanese of dog foods tested by MDA was Diamond Professional Chicken & Pea Formula for Dogs – the highest level was American Natural Premium Large Breed Puppy Dog Food.
Test results showed a 1,320% increase of manganese from the required minimum to the highest result.
Pet food regulations require an adult dog food to contain a minimum of 40 ppm Iron, regulations have no maximum level established. The lowest result for iron was Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Bites Adult Pasture-Fed Lamb & Rice Recipe Dog Food Dry – the highest level of iron was Farm Table Grain-Free Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe Dog Food for All Life Stages.
Test results showed more than a 2,000% increase of iron from the required minimum to the highest result.
Change is Needed
The dramatic differences from minimum required levels of nutrients to the highest levels found in lab analysis should be sufficient evidence that maximum levels of nutrients should be established in regulations. What health consequences do pets suffer from by these dramatic nutrient differences?
Science links high levels of iron to cardiomyopathy. From Iron Overload Cardiomyopathy in Clinical Practice (human medicine) (bold added for emphasis): “Iron overload is the accumulation of excess body iron in different organs as a result of increased intestinal absorption, parenteral administration, or increased dietary intake. The term iron overload cardiomyopathy (IOC) recently has been introduced to describe a secondary form of cardiomyopathy resulting from the accumulation of iron in the myocardium…” Could excess iron be linked to the current issue of dilated cardiomyopathy in cats and dogs?
Copper is another example. Scientists will be publishing a paper very soon on Copper Storage Disease documented in dogs linked to excess copper in pet food (to my understanding most of the documented cased are linked to the pet food ingredient Copper Sulfate). Missouri Department of Agriculture cat food results ranged from 10 ppm to 44 ppm of copper – dog food results ranged from 8 ppm to 32 ppm copper. Do we really need to wait for more pets to die before a maximum level of copper is established?
Pet owners can take action by…
- Ask your State Department of Agriculture to work with the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) to establish maximum levels of all pet food nutrients. You can find your state representatives by clicking here.
- Ask your State Department of Agriculture to publish all ‘feed sampling’ (what they call it) testing results on their website – in a location easy for pet owners to find.
- Ask the FDA to establish maximum levels of all pet food nutrients. You can email FDA at: AskCVM@fda.hhs.gov.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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