Made In the USA….Or Is It?

August 7, 2013

There are no AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) or FDA (Food & Drug Administration) rules or regulations governing a pet food manufacturer’s right to place the “Made in USA” claim on their products.  However, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) does offer written guidelines for them to follow.  Until recently, no one checked to see if a manufacturer actually followed those guidelines.

One state feed control group has begun asking pet food companies for documentation proving that they are following those guidelines.  This probably means that other states will follow in the future, so companies that say they use said guidelines may find it necessary to show proof.

What this means to the consumer is that as of now, in most states no organization is keeping tabs on whether a manufacturers dog or cat food is actually all sourced in the United States or not.  We are left to assume that the companies are all honest and ethical.  Until feed control groups in every state step up to demand proof that a manufacturer is truly following the FTC suggested guidelines, there isn’t much we can do.

If an ingredient such as lamb is imported into the U.S. from New Zealand and is used strictly as lamb with only minimal processing, the label on a pet food product must say that the lamb is a product of – or made in New Zealand.  But if that lamb is imported from New Zealand and then processed into something like lamb stew or lamb quiche, no labeling of origin is required by law.  That’s fine with a product imported from a country like New Zealand, but what if it were imported from China.  I, for one, would be very concerned.

In order for a pet food product to carry the American flag or “Made in USA” label, the FTC says that “all or virtually all” ingredients in the product must also be of U.S. origin.  Unfortunately, the guidelines don’t say what percent of the ingredients made up “virtually all.”  (www.petfoodindustry.com/PrintPage.aspx?id=48818)

Another factor is weight.  In considering if an ingredient can carry that “Made in USA” label, the amount or weight of it is a consideration.  But they don’t explain how much weight matters.  Cost of an ingredient is also factored into the decision but again, no parameters are provided.

Many ingredients are sourced in other countries, some tropical fruits or vegetables, vitamins, green tea extract, to name a few.  But if they amount used is small, the country of origin, or source of the item, may not be named.  An example of this might be certain vitamins.  Many of the vitamins sold in the United States for both humans and animals are sourced in China.  But you don’t see that listed on the ingredients label or anywhere else on the package or can.  The reason is that the amounts are so small that the company doesn’t have to list the source.

Pet food manufacturers must consider a number of factors before adding that desired “Made in USA” label to their products but if neither AAFCO nor the FDA are going to enforce the rules, I wonder how many liberties with the truth will be made.

If you are concerned about the origin of ingredients in the pet food you purchase, call the manufacturer and ask specific questions.  If the person you reach doesn’t know the answer, ask that person to connect you with someone who would.

 

 

 

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