How is a new brand of commercial cat food developed and formulated?
When formulating and marketing a new brand of pet food, it is probably best to follow the guidelines of AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials), because this organization is considered the authority in setting the guidelines and definitions for all dog food ingredients. For a pet food manufacturer to claim that their food is “nutritionally complete,” it must meet AAFCO’s nutritional guidelines.
To meet AAFCO’s nutritional guidelines, a food must:
• Contain every nutrient needed by the pet, as specified in the AAFCO Cat Food (or Dog Food) Nutrient Profiles. The nutrients listed in the AAFCO Nutrient Profiles are based on the nutritional recommendations of the National Research Council (NRC) for cats and dogs. The NRC recommendations are based upon the nutritional needs of the pet using purified diets. AAFCO has translated these absolute dietary needs of the pet into the nutrients and levels that should be in pet FOOD.
• Have nutrient profiles that are broken down into two categories (or life stages) – Growth & Reproduction and Adult Maintenance. If the pet food meets all of the nutrient requirements of both Growth and Reproduction, and Adult Maintenance as listed in the AAFCO Nutrient Profiles, then that pet food would be considered to be nutritionally adequate for “all life stages.”
AAFCO is a volunteer association who has three main goals: To ensure consumer protection, to safeguard the health of animals and humans, and to provide a level playing field of orderly commerce for the animal feed industry. All directors and advisors work on a volunteer basis; no one gets paid.
It’s also a private organization, not a government regulatory agency. AAFCO’s membership, however, is largely comprised of representatives from the State Department of Agriculture, and they can, and do, create standards and enforce them.
However, AAFCO’s membership is also comprised of trade and industry groups as well as advisors from pet food companies such as Nestle Purina, Hills Pet Nutrition, Nutro Products and Cargill Animal Nutrition.
AAFCO can, through its State Department of Agriculture members can:
• Establish nutritional requirements; any manufacturer who makes the claim that their food is ‘nutritionally complete’ must meet AAFCO’s nutritional regulations.
• Create pet food labeling.
• Test product at will.
• Remove product from stores.