Another AAFCO meeting accomplished. This report on the meetings is regarding our two significant AAFCO Committees – Ingredient Definitions and Pet Food.
First – and this could be the most significant step forward – the word ‘consumer’ was mentioned more at this AAFCO meeting than probably all other AAFCO meetings I’ve attended combined. They know we are here and are listening. Listening doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll see sweeping changes in pet food – but I believe the consumer perspective (wants and needs) is on the minds of pet food regulators. It probably is more ‘we’ll agree to disagree’ at this point, but the door is open. That’s a good thing – it’s progress.
The Pet Food Committee meeting discussed again this session the pending update to pet food nutrient profiles. The issue hanging is maximum calcium content of dog foods – ranging from 1.8% (of daily diet) to 2.5%. The lesser calcium maximum is suggested for growing large breed dogs (to slow the growth allowing bones to grow more naturally). During this discussion other nutrients were discussed in the pending nutrient profiles – so I took the (unpopular in the crowd) opportunity to bring up that these nutrient profiles are based on “commonly used” (and waste) ingredients and synthetic supplements not whole food nutrition. I stated that pet food is no longer a ‘one size fits all’ industry – and asked if the nutrient profiles were going to be looked at again, is consideration going to be given to nutrient requirements of pet foods that use whole food instead of supplements. My question didn’t get anywhere…but, the point was made. It’s all we have for now.
Another topic discussed again this meeting was carbohydrate statements on pet food labels. The hold up with this requirement to pet food labels is a scientific method to validate a pet food manufacturer carbohydrate statement. Backing up a bit – AAFCO meetings try to accomplish several things at one time. Regulations (which have to be accepted by each state) that pet food/animal feed manufacturers have to follow and a means for regulators – State Department of Agriculture Representatives – to discover and prove if manufacturers are abiding by the rules. So with the topic of carbohydrate statements on pet food labels – the concern is if it is required on a pet food label, how will regulators be able to determine if the manufacturer is telling the consumer the truth (about how much carbohydrates are actually included in a pet food).
One not so scientific method suggested is called Nitrogen Free Extract (NFE). And it is not as complicated as it sounds. To arrive at an estimate of carbohydrate content in any pet food add the ‘crude protein’ percentage, the ‘crude fat’ percentage, the minerals and ash content. Subtract this total from 100% (the entire pet food) and you are left with an estimate of carbohydrate content of the pet food.
Dr. Bill Burkholder of FDA discussed that FDA will no longer allow (on pet food labels) for multiple ingredients to be listed in parenthesis (excluding vitamins and minerals). So if you see in the ingredient list on a pet food or treat two or more ingredients in parenthesis – such as Chicken Product (chicken, liver, gizzards), know that the manufacturer of this pet food/treat is in violation of labeling laws (they aren’t following the rules!).
During the Pet Food Committee – Jill Franks who stated she was with Mars Petcare made a statement to the committee (to be honest, I don’t recall what that was – no matter, that’s not the point anyway). During the next session (Ingredient Definitions Session) I noticed that the very same Jill Franks sat down at the table at the front of the room (where committee advisers sit). When introductions were made of committee advisers to the crowd, she introduced herself as Jill Franks of Pet Food Institute. In other words, it appears that it is allowed for pet food manufacturer representatives to wear multiple hats at AAFCO meetings. One moment they can represent a manufacturer, another they can represent the lobby group for Big Pet Food. I don’t feel this is fair – especially considering that I worked for several years trying to become an adviser to these committees. It was only after our consumer association was formed (and months of investigation by AAFCO to be certain we really were a consumer association) that Mollie Morrissette and myself were given advisory positions. Not happy with this one.
Question…if you saw the term “Pulse Protein” or “Pulse Fiber” on a pet food ingredient list, do you know what that means? I didn’t – but it is now (or will be very soon) an approved pet food ingredient. ‘Pulse’ ingredients are lentils, various beans, chick peas, faba, and peas. For now, the only ‘pulse’ ingredient that will be allowed in pet foods are peas. But the stage is basically set for more pulse ingredients in the future. I’ll post the full definition of these ingredients soon. And there will be a Pulse Flour ingredient too.
We are heading home (yeah!) today. Mollie to California and me back to Florida. I will also try to post a explanation to all about how the entire AAFCO system works soon. It’s a little hard to explain. And watch PoisonedPets.com for Mollie’s post on her report of her very first AAFCO meeting. Will also send out to all Association for Truth in Pet Food members a report of the meeting – soon.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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