What is the nutritional adequacy statement and why is it on a pet food label?

Answer:

  • Nutritional adequacy has been defined by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) by establishing nutritional criteria (minimums and in some cases, maximums) for essential nutrients for dogs and cats. These AAFCO recommendations of nutritional adequacy are called the AAFCO Dog and Cat Food Nutrient Profiles.1
  • This statement can inform the consumer whether this food provides complete and balanced nutrition.
  • In the United States, AAFCO regulations require that all pet food labels must contain “a statement and validation of nutritional adequacy or purpose,” except products labeled as “treats,” “snacks,” or “supplements”.1
  • If a food claims to be “100% nutritious”, “complete and balanced”, “scientific”, “perfect”, or some similar phrase on the label, it must have a nutritional adequacy statement that contains the method that was used and the life stage for which it was validated.1
  • There are published AAFCO nutrient profiles for two life stages for both dogs and cats: growth/reproduction and adult maintenance.1 There are no published AAFCO nutrient profiles for senior life stages, large breed dogs, or performance athletes.

More supporting facts:

  • The AAFCO Dog and Cat Food Nutrient Profiles and the AAFCO Feeding Protocols are the only AAFCO recognized methods for validating the nutritional adequacy of “complete and balanced” pet foods.1
  • AAFCO does not regulate nutritional adequacy claims on manufacturer websites, literature, or any other materials other than the package/food label.
  • Regulatory authority over pet food occurs at the federal (i.e. FDA) and state levels.
The Science Behind our Recommendations
1. Association of American Feed Control Officials. 2011 Official Publication. Association of American Feed Control Officials, Inc. 2011: 139-147.