Pet Food FAQs

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Need a little help understanding the label jargon? Here’s a quick overview of some common terms and a trail you can follow to sniff out more answers:

What is considered a "premium" pet food?

The words "premium," "super premium," "ultra premium" and "gourmet" are not subject to any particular standards. They're just yummy-sounding adjectives!

What is considered a "natural" pet food?

The Association of American Feed Control Officialsexternal site oversees pet food production and labeling and defines the term "natural" this way:

"Feed or ingredient derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subjected to physical processing, heat processing, rendering, purification extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis or fermentation, but not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic except in amounts as might occur unavoidably in good manufacturing practices."

What does "organic" mean for pet products?

Currently, the same organic standards apply to products marked with the USDA organic seal, whether they are intended for people or pets. That means no use of conventional pesticides, artificial fertilizers, biosolids, and no irradiation or GMOs.

What are "by-products?"

This is a broad term that encompasses a range of "leftover" products from the human food industry, including clean, non-rendered "parts" other than meat derived from slaughtered animals. These by-products are used instead of whole meat in order to maintain a food's protein level while keeping the production cost low.

Are there other labeling guidelines for pet foods?

Yes, there are plenty. To learn more and find definitions for many other label claims, consult the two main organizations that oversee the pet food industry:

  • Federal regulations are enforced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)external site, which has standards for proper product identification, quantity statements, listing of ingredients and manufacturer's name and address.

  • The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO)external site provides a second, more specific layer of regulations that cover other aspects of labeling, nutritional analysis and adequacy, feeding directions, calorie statements and more.

We go to great lengths to secure the safest, highest quality food for you and your pets. For example, here is how we handled pet food ingredient concerns in 2008: Melamine Case Study.