How are recalls issued for commercial dog foods?

Pet food recalls, the act of removing the pet food from the shelf, is done in one of three ways: Either voluntarily by the manufacturer, by FDA request or by FDA order.

It can get a little confusing but what you, the consumer, really need to know is the role of AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials), because AAFCO is considered the authority in setting the guidelines and definitions for all dog food ingredients.

AAFCO is a volunteer association whose membership is comprised of representatives from the State Department of Agriculture; industry and trade groups; advisors from pet food companies, such as Hill’s. The organization works to ensure consumer protection and safeguard the health of both animals and people.

AAFCO can, through its State Department of Agriculture members:

• Establish nutritional requirements
• Create pet food labeling.
• Test product at will
• Remove product from stores

For a pet food manufacturer to claim that their food is “nutritionally complete,” it must meet AAFCO’s nutritional guidelines. Once it meets those requirements, the dog food label is certain to include the AAFCO label, and that label must include the following words: “Formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog (or Cat) Food Nutrient Profiles for (specific life stage)”
Sometimes a product doesn’t meet AAFCO’s minimum and maximum levels, but can still use the labeling in certain instances, such as when a product is used by a veterinarian for the treatment of a specific condition where the pet’s diet must be lower in certain nutrients.
Then, if AAFCO, through its State Department of Agriculture Membership, determines that a food doesn’t meet its standards, action is then taken to remove the product.
Remember, though, you are still the ultimate expert, so if you have any question or comment, be sure to ask your veterinarian or pet food expert. If you still feel that you don’t have the answer you are seeking, call the pet food manufacturer directly: That phone number must be on every label.

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