The AAFCO website just added some new pages – AAFCO Talks Pet Food – specifically for pet food consumers. The new pages are full of information that is misleading and inaccurate.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) just added some new pages to their website on the page specifically directed at pet food consumers. The new pages are titled “AAFCO Talks Pet Food” and AAFCO states these pages “contains a treasure-trove of information for consumers.
Truth is, these AAFCO Talks Pet Food pages contain a treasure-trove of misinformation for consumers, misleading pet food consumers.
AAFCO asked members of the Pet Food Committee for feedback on the pages before they went public. The following are excerpts of these pages and the suggestions I provided back to AAFCO. All of my suggestions were ignored.
Examples of information found on AAFCO Talks Pet Food pages…
On the Frequently Asked Questions page, under the question “What are meat byproducts really?” AAFCO provides the official definition of by-products and includes the sentence “It shall be suitable for animal food.” AAFCO then further explains “To put it another way, meat byproducts are most parts of an animal other than its muscle tissue – including organs and bones.”
First, it should be noted that AAFCO has no definition/explanation of what ‘It shall be suitable for animal food’ is. This question was sent to AAFCO over a year ago, AAFCO has never responded. My concern/question with this statement is that if AAFCO can’t define this, how can the organization include the statement in legal definitions of ingredients?
The AAFCO explanation of byproducts makes the ingredient sound acceptable, even quality. But…AAFCO neglected to tell pet food consumers that meat byproducts can also include parts of an animal rejected for use as human food – such as diseased or contaminated animal tissues.
I sent AAFCO the suggestion to add under What are by-products? – “And to put it another way, meat byproducts can include parts of the animal that was rejected for use in human food.” AAFCO ignored the suggestion that would provide consumers with accurate information to what by-products really are.
AAFCO does admit in a few questions later (on the same page) that by-products “contain matter from diseased or disabled animals” though this admission is provided in a round-about way. The question on the AAFCO site is “Do meat byproducts ever contain matter from diseased or disabled animals?” At first AAFCO states no, the “precise definition” of byproducts would not allow matter from diseased or disabled animals into pet food. But then AAFCO adds a “However…” The ‘however’ explains that “yes” pet food byproducts could include matter from dead, dying, diseased or disabled animals.
Under the FAQ “Am I better off cooking up a homemade pet food for my dog or cat?”, AAFCO discourages consumers from preparing their own pet food with the statement “The ingredients a person may select for formulating a cat or dog food will have certain amounts of certain nutrients but not all the nutrients in the correct ratios.”
To this, I sent AAFCO the response “This is an incorrect statement – a pet food can be 100% balanced if the right variety of ingredients are used.” AAFCO ignored my suggestion.
Under the FAQ “Where did this pet food product come from?” AAFCO explains regulations governing label requirements when a pet food is manufactured outside the U.S. and defends imported ingredients stating “A lot of human food ingredients are also imported.” AAFCO tells consumers that “the country of origin is less important than the specific manufacturer…”
I sent AAFCO my response to country of origin information telling them that consumers feel country of origin information is very important (not “less important than the specific manufacturer”). AAFCO ignored my suggestion.
On the page “Human-Grade” AAFCO tells pet food consumers a great deal that minimizes the importance of quality ingredients (human grade ingredients) in a pet food. The biggest mis-information on the pages states that human-grade claims of pet food are “a marketing creation that aims to convince consumers that products so-emblazoned are somehow better than others.”
This is so, so wrong. I think most consumers would feel that human grade ingredients ARE “better than other” ingredients sourced from diseased animals rejected for use in human food. My statement to AAFCO shared that this statement is incorrect. Human Grade is/was verified by FDA – it is not solely a marketing creation. AAFCO ignored my suggestion.
On the AAFCO consumer page “Treats and Chews” – we find an interesting statement.
AAFCO states: “A treat product that meets nutritional adequacy standards may help relieve pet owners’ guilt about giving pets “junk food.” AAFCO doesn’t explain what they mean by “junk food”. It is assumed AAFCO is saying that treats that are complete and balanced (just as a pet food is) are better for pets than – as example – giving your dog or cat a potato chip. My first thought of “junk food” was pet foods including byproducts sourced from diseased and disabled animals.
On the page “Raw Foods” – AAFCO takes its hit on raw meat pet foods. AAFCO states “Niche retailers may sell raw pet foods; however, virtually all complete pet food products are not raw.”
Wrong, wrong, wrong. My response to AAFCO was “The statement “virtually all complete pet food products are not raw” is inaccurate. There are numerous raw foods that are complete and balanced. This sentence is bias and needs to be removed.” AAFCO ignored my suggestion.
AAFCO stated “niche retailers” sell raw pet food. My response to AAFCO was that numerous chain pet food stores (including Petco and Petsupermarket) sell raw foods – these are not “niche” retailers. AAFCO ignored my suggestion.
On the same page (Raw Foods) AAFCO tells consumers that other pet foods “have been heat-treated during manufacturing to prevent microbial contamination” and warns “consumers should be aware of raw-food handling practices.”
My response to AAFCO was: “Why is this being stated here? Kibble – even though it has been “heat-treated during manufacturing to prevent microbial contamination” has experienced many recalls due to microbial contamination. If AAFCO is going to warn consumers to “microbial contamination” and safe handling to raw, the same warning needs to be stated for kibble.” AAFCO ignored my suggestion.
And lastly on the page “If a Pet is Sick” AAFCO simply tells the consumer to seek veterinary care. My suggestion to AAFCO was to include information to report a suspect illness to State Department of Agriculture and FDA if the pet owner believes the illness is linked to a pet food/treat – needs to be added. AAFCO ignored my suggestions.
Before these pages in AAFCO Talks Pet Food were live (on the AAFCO website), AAFCO Pet Food Committee Stan Cook sent myself and other members of the Pet Food Committee an email asking for feedback on these new AAFCO pages. My suggestions were sent on June 29, 2015. His response (same day) told me “Thanks for your comments. Give me some time to review them and I will get you a response on them.”
I received no response from Mr. Cook.
Today I found the pages were live on the AAFCO website with not one of my corrections included. The following email was sent to Stan Cook AAFCO Pet Food Committee co-chair this morning…
I noticed on the AAFCO website this morning that the AAFCO Talks Pet Food pages are now live and not one change that I suggested was made. Plus – you never responded to my suggestions. How very disappointing that AAFCO could care less about providing consumers accurate information.
Very disappointed in you AAFCO. Pet food consumers deserve better.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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The 2015 List
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