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Here's Help for Interpreting Labels

Discussion in 'Feeding' started by Tam319, Mar 27, 2003.

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  1. Tam319

    Tam319 Guest

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    Hi there,

    Here is some information from my university nutrition class regarding the labelling of pet foods and how to interpret it.

    1) INGREDIENT LIST
    Ingredients are listed descending order of weight when added in the formulation. So the first item on the list is present in the largest quantity, the second is in the second largest quantity and so on.

    When evaluating a kibble to feed your dog using just the ingredient list has serious limitations. Follow these general guidelines:

    a) for best results an animal protein source (meat) should be one of the first three ingredients listed.
    b) beware of manufactures that list different forms of the same ingredient separately. For example ground corn and flaked corn may be listed separately but result in a large amount of corn in the diet.

    2) THE NAME: THE 25% RULE
    The named ingredient must comprise at least 25% of the product. Example "Beef Dinner". This means that beef is atleast 25% of the diet. This is usually the 3rd or 4th ingredient on the list.

    3) THE NAME: THE 3% RULE
    Combined ingredients must add up to 25% with the second ingredient being 3% or more. Example "Lamb and Rice Dinner" means that there is atleast 3% rice and the combination of lamb and rice make up 25% of the diet.

    4) GUARENTEED ANALYSIS
    This is declared on an 'as fed' basis so it includes all the water in the feed. Stated as minimum or maximum values of nutrients. This isn't very accurate becaues it allows for a large range. Example, 16% crude protein MINIMUM could mean it has 16.5% or 30%.

    5) TESTING
    To be claimed to be "complete and balanced" the diet must provide nutrients that meet an established profile AAFCO or CVMA. Animal feeding tests are done following AAFCO procedures. Must meet the requirements of animals at that life stage. Example, Puppy food must meet needs of puppies. Problem - testing is only done for 6 months and some weightloss is allowed so not much scientific data on the effects of a dog fed that food for longer than 6 months. This raises concerns with the long term effects. Hopefully they will change this procedure soon.

    6) OTHER CLAIMS
    The term "Natural" has no official term as far as regulation goes. In reality a balanced diet HAS TO include some artificial ingredients. So be aware that no diet can be 100% natural. Until recently "organic" was not regulated either. Most of the "organic" ingredients came from animals and plants in the transition of becoming certified organic. This means they were in the process of switching over from conventional to completely organic. This is now becoming more strictly regulated.

    7) MEAT is clean trim off federally inspected animals and is high quality.

    8) MEAT BYPRODUCT is non-rendered clean parts from federally inspected animals and is high quality. It is called 'byproduct' because it is the leftovers of the animal that humans don't eat, like the organs, tongue, heart. This is also high quality and nutritious. Because this product comes from the slaughterplant where human food is produced it is clean and safe.

    9) MEAT MEAL is rendered product exclusive of bone, hide and hair, not federally inspected and not well regulated. Try to avoid this on your label if possible.

    So bottom line - you want meat and meat byproduct, steer clear of meat meal.

    10) Kibble has to have 40% carbohydrates to stick together in kibbles.

    11) This is just an interesting fact I didn't know...Purina actually owns Ol' Roy and uses the same poultry source for both foods. There are other lower quality ingredients however that makes Purina foods more nutritous than Ol' Roy.

    Hope this helps dispell some of the confusion with wording on dog food labels. Check out my other thread called "Evaluating Kibble Quality" for information on how you can check the nutrient levels in the bag.

    Tamara
     
  2. JulieM

    JulieM Boxer Insane

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    Something to keep in mind is that when meat or meat byproduct is listed as the first ingredient, it is based on pre-processing weight (which means it contains a lot of water) - after processing (drying), that meat may only make up a small percentage of the food.

    Tam, when you say certain things are not "federally regulated," is that true for the US as well?
     
  3. Tam319

    Tam319 Guest

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    Good point Julie. I meant to include that it is listed on an 'as fed' basis as opposed to a dry matter basis.

    I'm assuming that the 'federally-regulated' goes for US and Canada as most of our kibble we feed in Canada is manufactured in the US by 3 or 4 big companies. I will try to find out for sure for you in the next week.

    Tam
     
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