Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.
In our third article on veterinary nutrition, we’re going to address some of the other terms found on pet food labels that don’t quite fit on the AAFCO feeding statement or ingredient list.
There are a number of terms that are used as part of marketing but really do very little to give us additional information about the ingredients or quality of the food. The United States Food & Drug Administration regulates pet food labels and has specific regulations regarding proper product identification, net quantity statement, name and place of business of the manufacturer or distributor, and proper listing of all the ingredients in the product based on weight (ordered most to least).
Products labeled as “premium” or “gourmet” are not required to contain any different or higher quality ingredients, nor are they held up to any higher nutritional standards than are any other complete and balanced products.
The term “natural” does not have an official definition either, though AAFCO has developed a feed term definition for what types of ingredients can be considered “natural” and “Guidelines for Natural Claims” for pet foods. For the most part, “natural” can be considered as a lack of artificial flavors, artificial colors, or artificial preservatives in the product. For high-fat dry products, some form of preservative must be used to prevent rancidity. Natural-source preservatives, such as mixed tocopherols (a source of vitamin E), can be used in place of artificial preservatives. However, they may not be as effective.
“Natural” is not the same as “organic.” The latter term refers to the conditions under which the plants were grown or animals were raised and currently only has a regulatory definition in human food. The United States Department of Agriculture is working to develop regulations dictating what types of synthetic additives, such as vitamins and purified amino acids, may be used in pet foods labeled as organic.
Health claims on pet foods are enforced by discretion of the FDA, but there are few health claims that pet foods companies can legally make. Claims that food can reduce, prevent or treat a disease are only permitted on veterinary medical diets, and even then, these foods are only allowed to convey the information on the relationship of a diet and disease in veterinary-directed literature to help veterinarians treat their patients appropriately (otherwise the diet would be considered a drug and have to be approved as such). The labels, including product names, cannot include names of diseases; this is why many of these veterinary medical foods are named with initials or numbers.
A great resource for owners and veterinarians regarding pet foods is the Pet Nutrition Alliance. And in a couple weeks, we’ll round out our nutrition series with a breakdown of the “guaranteed analysis” of pet food labels.
The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
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The 44th Leeway Overlee Community Day and Yard
Sale will be along the John Marshall Drive/Ohio Street greenway on
Saturday, June 3 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. The community will be out in
force to exchange information and greetings, sell unneeded household
items, and pick up a few bargains.
About 100 families set up tables for the festivities, which take
place along the six-block stretch of the greenway from near Langston
Blvd. to Washington Blvd. Attendance is free, but
a $10 fee will be collected from individuals and families selling
household items during the event. Ensure that all goods and rubbish are
removed from the greenway by 1 p.m. Leave dogs at home.
For more info, call 703-532-6101. If planning to sell, start labeling
your items for sale NOW! Event will take place as long as there is not
active rain. Rain date is June 10.
36TH FESTIVAL ARGENTINO
ARLINGTON JUNE 3RD, 2023
Sat, June 3rd I 3:30 pm / Shows 5:50 pm I Kenmore Auditorium I Glencarlyn
The 36th Festival Argentino USA celebrates Argentine Day and Cultural Freedom. The folkloric group Los 4 de Córdoba and 25 more artists from Argentina, World, and Solidarity Tribute, 200 years of friendship between USA and Argentina!.
Homebuying 101: Steps to Getting Pre-Approved
Are you ready to jump into homeownership or started considering it but don’t know where to start? Financial preparation is key when thinking about purchasing your first home and the first step to getting pre-approved.
Join ACFCU’s mortgage loan officers
4th of July Celebration & Fireworks
Treat yourself this Independence Day with a world-class, private 4th of July extravaganza at the Military Women’s Memorial – a premier National Capital Region site.
Great food, fun, and the best views of Washington DC’s spectacular fireworks display. Relax, enjoy,