When you shop for dog food for your Morkie, your head might be spinning when you read labels. I believe the pet food manufacturers – a multi BILLION dollar industry – purposely confuse consumers. Why would they do that? So they can pass off sub-par food (made with the cheapest possible ingredients) as high priced, quality food.
There are many, many ways dog food makers can do that, and I’ll be reviewing them over the next few weeks. Let’s start with dog food names.
But first, who regulates the pet food industry?
Meet the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials)
This is the group that regulates the pet food industry. You’d expect this to be an unbiased, third party group. Possibly a government organization or agency.
AAFCO is a private corporation. It is made up largely of PET FOOD COMPANY EXECUTIVES, business insiders and some elected officials in the United States and Canada. They set standards for their industry that are not very high, to state it mildly. The Association believes foods that are made up predominantly of ingredients like these, are just fine for our dogs:
Ground yellow corn, soybean meal, ground whole wheat, and corn syrup.
What’s corn syrup doing in dog food?
It covers up the putrid taste of processed food, to the point where your dog will find it reasonably palatable.
The role of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration ) is one of oversight. They check that what’s on the label, is in the food. That, and whether or not the manufacturer’s name is correct on the label. They have no input or insights into what constitutes healthy pet food, and their recommendations to the AAFCO are generally considered ‘suggestions’ only. And generally ignored.
Unethical and shady: dog food names
That is what allows the industry to label dog food like this:
- “Beef for dogs” then at least 95% of the product must be beef (or 70% when counting the added water)
- “Beef dinner” requires the product to contain at least 25% of beef
- “With beef” means the product contains at least 3% of beef. Buying a product that says “now with real beef” and you get only 3%!
- “With beef flavour” means the flavour itself is detectable (from beef meal or beef by-products for example), there doesn’t have to be any actual beef meat present in the product .
Don’t buy foods that are labelled as dinners, entrees, meals or anything along those lines: it means the food contains just 25% of the named meat.
“With beef” or “with beef flavour” are even worse so avoid them too.
Go for the simple animal protein name, such as Beef for dogs, Chicken or Lamb.