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Pet Food Labeling Aims to Make Labeling Guidelines More Consumer-Friendly

7/18/2019  By Jeannie Swedberg

 

Pet Food Labeling Aims to Make Labeling Guidelines More Consumer-Friendly

Another discussion topic at Petfood Forum was about updating pet food nutrition labels. My take on that is—what took so long? Apparently, the current labeling, “Guaranteed Analysis and calorie contents,” was introduced in the early 1900s. From the average consumer’s view point, Guaranteed Analysis is nearly indecipherable as a guidepost for their pet’s nutritional needs.

For those unfamiliar with the labeling, the Guaranteed Analysis lists the amounts of certain specified nutrients in a pet food product. The ‘guaranteed’ amounts are expressed as either a maximum or minimum percentage. Those specified nutrients are:

  • Crude protein
  • Crude fat
  • Crude fiber
  • Moisture
  • Ash
  • Magnesium
  • Taurine

The guaranteed amounts aren’t helpful in figuring out the nutritional needs of one’s pet—probably not even if you knew your furry friend needed specific amounts of fiber, protein and fat per day.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials or AAFCO is overseeing the “modernization” of pet food labels, with the goal of making them more consumer-friendly. Discussions on the updated labels have begun, but nothing has been decided to date. The expectation is the new labels will look more like the Nutrition Facts panels on human food and beverages. Of course, the information will be based on animals’ nutritional needs. Some of the changes being proposed are standardized label formats listing recommended mandatory ‘guarantees’ of protein, fat, non-fiber carbohydrates, dietary fiber and moisture for cat and dog foods.

From what I understood, there’s still quite a bit of deliberating ahead to hammer out the final details, so the new rules can be enacted. But there is movement toward a resolution. For pet food manufacturers the labeling change will be an investment, but hopefully it will also serve to educate pet parents, so they can be more informed. Today’s consumers want and appreciate label transparency. Companies who provide this will gain their trust and loyalty.  I figure the new labeling is a win-win, so it can’t come soon enough.

Food for thought as new labeling requirements get hammered out… Fruits and vegetables cannot only help meet a pet’s dietary needs, but also supply great tag appeal as they score high marks as label friendly ingredients. Front of packaging panel promotion or call-outs about the benefits these ingredients provide will attract the attention of the most caring pet "parent."

While it is true that dogs are more omnivorous and cats primarily carnivorous, each species benefits from the right type and right amount of fiber in the diet. The ratio of insoluble to soluble fiber varies depending on the type of fruit. Some soluble fibers have been known to exert a positive influence on blood glucose levels. This soluble fiber potentially could be met using fruits.

Whether you are selecting fruit for functionality, fitness, free radicals or fiber content, the research arm of Tree Top Ingredients can help select the right form and right type of fruit for the desired application. If you would like a sample of Tree Top’s healthful fruit powders, purees, or juice concentrates to assist with your formulation needs, click here to submit a sample request.  Or learn more about our pet ingredients here.

Want to learn more about Tree Top Ingredients?  Meet out growers and field reps here and explore our video library and see how our fruit is grown and made into various fruit forms.