The Association of American Feed Control Officials, called AAFCO, is a private organization of volunteers in the animal feed feed industry — including people from the pet food industry itself.
It is not mandated by any laws; it does not write laws or change them.
AAFCO sets standards for nutritional adequacy for a wide variety of animal feed, including cattle feed, feed for commercially raised rabbits, pig feed, dog and cat food, etc.
In my personal opinion, AAFCO regulation falls FAR short of protecting the welfare of our pets; here are some reasons why I say this.
1. How AAFCO tests pet foods
Food is either analyzed in the lab, or AAFCO runs feed trails.
- the feed trial includes 8 dogs minimum, or more
- 25% can be removed during the test – so the test could be conducted with just SIX DOGS
- as long as the remaining animals don’t lose more than 15% of their body weight during the 26 week trial, the food is approved
AAFCO states clearly in its mandate, that it is setting standards for adequate nutrition. Not good nutrition, not particularly healthy. Adequate to keep the animal alive.
2. FEED and FOOD is very different
There’s a big difference between FEED and FOOD.
AAFCO is mostly comprised of Feed Control Officials. These are state department of agriculture representatives who work together on feed that livestock eats. It’s nothing like our FOOD or what we think of as our pet’s FOOD. AAFCO is all about FEED.
Feed is all about fattening commercially raised animals for slaughter with the minimum resources possible; food is about building and maintaining good health.
One difference alone – FEED is allowed, per FDA, to contain euthanized pets and pesticide-laden grains and vegetables that wouldn’t be allowed for human consumption. (www.truthaboutpetfoods)
3. AAFCO doesn’t actually approve pet food
AAFCO does not approve, certify or reject pet food. Wording on pet food actually says that it MEETS the nutritional requirements established by AAFCO. Those standards, as mentioned, are what’s needed for adequate nutrition, in highly processed pet foods.
4. These are the people who brought you the Label Laws
Remember these rules? You can read about them in detail on my blog, What’s on Your Dog’s Menu, but basically it’s a serious of weasel statements that tell manufactures what to call their products when they don’t contain a lot of meat.
For example, let’s look at Cesar Classics Filet Mignon Flavor, made by food giant Mars.
It contains no filet mignon; it contains nothing like what we think of as beef.
Instead, this Cesar Classics flavour contains:
- beef by-products – this is leftover, non-meat which can include lungs, stomach, and intestines (required to be freed of feces) from slaughtered mammals. It is not the flesh or ‘meat’ which has been removed for human food or other animal feed products.
It’s not even the ‘acceptable’ kinds of slaughterhouse leftovers like gristle, pieces of fatty tissue, meat from the animal’s head and feet; connective tissue – all of this goes into hot dogs and processed meat for people.
- animal liver – liver is a good source of protein; the problem here is, what kind of animal?
- meat by-products – again, the leftover waste from the slaughterhouse, but what kind of animal(s) are we talking about?
- chicken by-products – this is not chicken ‘meat;’ it is the scrap, and can include feet, backs, livers, lungs, chicken heads, undeveloped eggs, etc.
….along with artificial colouring, sodium nitrite and more.
The total protein content of this food: 8%.
Remember, it’s the food name that counts
More reading on AAFCO and its role
Dog Food Advisor – https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/choosing-dog-food/animal-by-products/
Truth About Pet Food – http://truthaboutpetfood.com/should-my-pets-food-be-aafco-approved/
AAFCO official site – http://www.aafco.org/Consumers