By Stephanie Lynch
The FDA, along with the AAFCO, has put together 4 basic rules for your pet’s food.
If you’re passionate about offering your cat the best food possible, it’s important to know how to read the label properly to make sure your cat is eating healthy. Feeding your cat unhealthy ingredients can often lead to obesity, potential contaminants, kidney stones and even some costly vet bills.
This rule mainly applies to cat food that only has a few ingredients. For example, it would say something along the lines of “Tuna Cat Food” or something else simple. In this instance, about 95% of the product has to be the named ingredient – in this case, it would be tuna.
Now, this is not going to count the water it takes to process the product and any other ingredients within the can. If you factor the water into this percentage, at least 70% of the can must have the main ingredient in it.
Since the ingredients must be declared in proper order by the predominance by weight, the main ingredient should be listed first, followed by water and then other random vitamins and nutrients. If the first ingredient were to say something along the lines of “Tuna ‘n Liver,” then the two ingredients combined should be at least 95% of the total weight.
2. Now we come to the “dinner rule.”
This is also known as the 25% rule and applies to canned and dry products only.
If the main ingredient listed on the product is more than 25% of the product, but it’s less than 95%, then the label should include a descriptive term such as “Dinner” or something like “Tuna Dinner for Cats.” Even counting the water, the ingredients should still be at least 10%.
Be careful with the dinner meals because what you’re going to find is that the main ingredient won’t always be listed first. As we recall in the first tip, the ingredient list will go by the weight of the ingredient. For example, if your cat hated chicken and the canned food said “Tuna Formula Cat Food,” there could be a chance that there’s more chicken than tuna, even though the label says it’s made of tuna.
Lastly, with this rule, if there were more than one ingredient, the ingredients combined should total at least 25% of the product and listed in the same order on the ingredient list.
3. The “with” rule.
If the label has the word “with” in it, it only needs to contain 3% of that ingredient. So for example, if the label were to say “Cat Food with Tuna,” it will only need to contain 3% tuna. If you see the word “with” on any pet food label, there’s a good chance it’s going to be filled with a lot of unnecessary and unhealthy fillers.
4. Our final rule is the “flavor rule.”
This final guideline is a bit different. If the label were to have the word “flavor” in it, a certain percentage isn’t required; however, enough of the main ingredient should be sufficient enough to be listed on the can.
If the label were to say “Tuna Flavored Cat Food,” there’s going to be a good chance that there’s a pinch of tuna in it; however, there will be other substances that will give it the characterizing flavor such as meal or by-products.
The “flavor” foods tend to have the least amount of the main ingredient in its natural state.
Summing it up…
The FDA requires that all labels must be accurate in terms of weight ingredients and calorie statements. However, if a pet food company claims to be “premium” or “gourmet,” these types of food don’t have any regulations behind them.
The next time you read a label, be sure to look out for the words mentioned above so that you can make a healthier choice.
Guest Author Bio:
Stephanie Lynch is a contributor to Howmuchisit.org, a cost-helping database that helps consumers find out what the unknown things cost in life. Stephanie enjoys spending time with her family, the outdoors and writing..
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