While the adherence and compliance to laws and regulations of how a pet food is manufactured will be the concern of your private label partner, you as the private label owner should know the organizations that impact your pet food product itself.
If you will distribute your pet food in the USA, it is a requirement that it should be subjected to the standards of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (Note that countries have their own agencies that monitor, regulate, and license the distribution of these products.) Once it passes the FDA’s standards, and since you are aiming for a premium image for your pet food, you will need to get the AAFCO label on to your private label to vet for your pet food product.
What is AAFCO
AAFCO is the Association of American Feed Control Officials. It is a voluntary membership association of local, state and federal agencies, which set the standards for sale and distribution of animal feeds and animal drug remedies in the US. Aside from ensuring the safety of ingredients in pet food, AAFCO also ensures that diets proposed by manufacturers are appropriate to the animal species that will consume the food.
The AAFCO label
Note that AAFCO only sets the standards. It does not play a role whether your product can or cannot be sold or distributed. “AAFCO does not regulate, test, approve or certify pet foods in any way.”[*] Before you can use the AAFCO label on your private label pet food, you must meet the AAFCO standards. The standard labels of AAFCO is a statement that assures the public that your pet food has met its set standards and that it is safe for consumption by your pets.
“The ‘AAFCO statement of nutritional adequacy or purpose,’ also called a ‘nutrition claim’ or ‘complete and balanced statement,’ identifies which life stage and/or lifestyle the product has been approved for. Under AAFCO regulations, this statement must be substantiated by the manufacturer.”[**]
There are three methods for substantiating the claim that AAFCO recognizes:
- Laboratory analysis
Label states: “ABC Dog (Cat) Food is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog (Cat) Food Nutrient Profiles for (appropriate life stage).”
- Feeding trials
Label states: “Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that ABC Dog (Cat) Food provides complete and balanced nutrition for (appropriate life stage).”
- Analysis comparable in nutritional adequacy
Label states: “ABC Dog (Cat) Food provides complete and balanced nutrition for (appropriate life stage) and is comparable in nutritional adequacy to a product which has been substantiate using AAFCO feeding tests.”
This statement appears thus when applied to the pet food label:
While AAFCO does not have regulatory powers, its recommendations have become the basis for majority of state laws and regulations for all animal feeds. New information and issues that come to light which impact pet food and other feeds are amended in the AAFCO Model Pet Food Regulations during meetings of AAFCO members.
For a deep dive about AAFCO, here are some references:
Addiction Foods Private Label has food technologists and nutritionists that will help your pet food product meet the standards of AAFCO and its counterparts. We have access to nature’s pantry right in New Zealand, the cleanest place on earth to manufacture and source pet food. Start your journey with us! If you’re looking for the right partner, make it Addiction Foods Private Label.