Tag Talk: Understanding Your Pet’s Food Label

Many people are putting a bigger emphasis on eating healthy and look at the labels on the food they eat. Why not do it for your pets?

Pet food labels are monitored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on a national level, and some states have additional regulations, often those established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). The FDA requires that labels on all pet food products contain proper identification of product, net quantity statement, manufacturer’s name and address, nutrient guarantees and proper listing of ingredients. The following paragraphs will help you understand what they mean.

NET QUANTITY STATEMENT
The net quantity statement tells you how much product by weight is actually in each container, not the size of the bag.

INGREDIENT LIST
Pet food ingredients are listed in order of predominance by weight and are referred to by their common name. The first ingredient should be a source of protein such as chicken, beef, turkey, or salmon. Many of the ingredients with chemical-sounding names are actually vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients.

HERE’S A BREAKDOWN FOR COMMONLY LISTED INGREDIENTS AND WHAT THEY MEAN:
Meat: flesh from animals including chicken, cattle, turkey, etc.
Meat by-products: non-rendered clean animal parts, other than meat. This may include lungs, livers, kidneys, brain, spleen, blood, bones and stomachs and intestines emptied of their contents. It cannot include hair, horns, teeth or hooves.
Animal By-Product Meal: the rendered product from animal tissues, exclusive of any added hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumens contents. It shall not contain added extraneous materials not provided for by this definition.
Meat meal: the rendered product from mammal tissues, exclusive of added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents or added extraneous materials. It shall not contain more than 12% pepsin-indigestible residue.
Poultry by-product meal: non-rendered, ground, clean parts of slaughtered chickens and turkeys, not including flesh. This may include necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines. This will not include feathers.
Poultry by products: non-rendered clean parts of carcasses including heads, feet and viscera free from fecal content and foreign matter.
Poultry meal: the dry, rendered product from a combination of clean flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from parts of the whole carcasses of poultry or a combination thereof, exclusive of feathers, heads, feet and entrails.
Beef tallow: fat derived from beef.
Ground corn: the whole kernel of corn, can be ground or chopped.
Corn gluten meal: after corn syrup or starch is manufactured, this is the high-protein by-product remaining after the removal of the bran, germ and starch.
Tocopherols: a preservative comprised of many forms of vitamin E.
Brewers Rice: Brewers rice is the small fragments of rice kernels that have been separated from larger kernels of milled rice.
Brown Rice: Brown rice is the unpolished rice with its bran layer intact.
Soybean Meal: Soybean meal is a high-protein by-product of the removal of soybean oil from whole soybeans.
BHA: BHA is butylated hydroxyanisole, a fat preservative.
Yucca shidigera extract: A plant extract that has been shown to help reduce foul odors and increase animal performance by lowering ruminal, intestinal and blood ammonia levels.
Lactobacillus acidophilus and Enterococcus faecium: dried microorganisms commonly found in the digestive tract that help support a pet’s digestive health.
Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum: A digestive enzyme derived from yeast extracts, this ingredient helps promote healthy digestion.

GUARANTEED ANALYSIS
All companies are required to put a guarantee of the minimum percentages of crude protein and crude fat and the maximum percentages of crude fiber and moisture. Crude refers to the method of testing, not the quality of the nutrients.

NUTRITIONAL ADEQUACY STATEMENT
The nutritional adequacy statement is one of the most important parts of a pet food label. To be considered a “compete and balanced” pet food, like all of PMI Nutrition® products—Infinia®, Exclusive® and Red Flannel® pet foods—it must be substantiated by one of two ways.

The product is formulated to meet nutritional levels established by the AAFCO The product is tested using AAFCO feeding trial protocols and has been found to provide proper nutrition.

The nutritional adequacy statement also says which stage of life the food is suitable for. Products listed for all life stages, such as Infinia® Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe and Infinia® Turkey & Sweet Potato Recipe, meet more stringent nutritional needs for growth and production.

FEEDING DIRECTIONS
Feeding directions are rough guidelines. Depending on your dog’s breed, temperament, environment and lifestyle, the amount needed may vary. Pregnant or nursing dogs may require two to three times the recommended amount to maintain ideal body conditions.

WHAT IS RENDERING?
Rendering is the process by which fats and lean-tissue proteins are separated under high temperatures, producing two end products — fat and dry meat meal.

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