Background and Quality Control information on the manufacturing process of pet food.


Pet food is a specialty food for domesticated animals that is made according to their nutritional needs. Pet food usually consists of meat, meat byproducts, grain, vitamins, and minerals. There are 300 U.S. manufacturers who produce around 7 million tons of pet food each year--one of the largest in the packaged food industry. Consumers can choose from over 3,000 pet food products including the dry, canned, and semi-moist types, as well as treats such as biscuits and hygienic bones. During the 90s in the U.S., this $8-billion industry fed 52 million dogs and 63 million cats.

Though commercially made pet food can be traced back to the dry, biscuit-style dog food made in England in 1860, pet food manufacturers have since produced much more health-conscious and sophisticated recipes. Starting in the 1980s, U.S. trends in the pet food industry have seen increased demand for dry foods and decreased demand for canned foods. This is largely because research has suggested that the soft texture of canned food led to gum disease much more quickly than dry food. The increasingly health-conscious public of the 80s led to development of new types of pet food including life-cycle products for young and aging animals as well as therapeutic foods for pets with special needs like urinary problems or weight loss. The pet treats market also saw an increase in popularity with new products like jerky snacks, hygienic bones and biscuits.

Pet food manufacturers are subject to the rules and regulations set by several agencies at the federal and state levels, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The FDA regulates ingredients used in pet foods by setting maximum and minimum limits on specific nutrients and by banning the use of antibiotics and medications. The USDA is responsible for meat quality and decides which animals can be used in pet foods. Lastly, a non-governmental advisory group with representatives in each state, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), registers the 3,000 brands and sizes of pet food.

Correct labeling of pet food is required to provide accurate information to the consumer. These guidelines are set by the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine and AAFCO. The product name, net weight, name and address of the manufacturer, guaranteed analysis, ingredients and nutritional information are the six elements that are required on all labels. "Guaranteed analysis" statement labels found on pet food products today are the result of practices used by manufacturers to add weight to their pet food by adding unhealthy ingredients like sand or lime-stone. The guaranteed analysis sets minimum percentages of crude protein and fat and maximum percentages on crude fiber and moisture. It also guarantees minimum amounts of nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, sodium and taurine in dog and cat food.


Pet Health Check


The happiest, healthiest pets maintain their correct weight during their lifetime. Overweight or underweight pets may be at risk of developing serious health problems. Take this quick, easy test in order to determine if your pet is at its ideal weight.

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