A variety of options
There is a wide variety of diets and food companies out there. They all have the same purpose: to provide a proper diet for pets. Nonetheless, it is important to know that there are no mandatory regulations regarding the formulation of pet food. In other words, anybody can manufacture and sell pet food. So, how do we make the right choice?
There is an organization called AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) that includes nutritionists, veterinarians and agronomists who establish nutritional standards and offer guidelines for the pet food industry. In Canada, companies are not required to comply with those standards and there are no regulatory processes or penalties in place for food manufacturers that refuse to comply with the standards. AAFCO is not a food police: Canadian food manufacturers comply voluntarily to the standards. That being said, pet food is regulated by Canadian Laws from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency regarding hazardous material restriction for all species under the Health of Animals Regulations. They also have to comply with the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and the Competition Act.
It is the pet food manufacturer’s responsibility to formulate and test the diets in compliance to the AAFCO standards to ensure the product’s quality, and the well-being of the animals eating it.
On your dog’s food bag you can see if the diet has been formulated or tested. What does this mean?
- Formulated: a food that was not tested by AAFCO
- Tested: a food that was tested by AAFCO. These tests last for 6 months for maintenance diets and 10 weeks for puppy food. Tests must be done every 5 years.