A list of all pet food manufacturers with pet foods available in the United States and Canada was created in June 2018 from diets offered for sale on internet pet food retailers' websites and pet food rating websites. An individual manufacturer was defined by having a unique main corporate name and address on the label. An individual manufacturer was assumed to have common management and manufacturing sites, even if they produce multiple products sold under different names. 

A. Protocol    

1.    A person selected by PNA called each manufacturer’s information line (either the consumer resource line listed on the website or, if none was available, the general number for the manufacturer).  The caller stated that he/she was calling from the PNA and would like to get answers to 3 questions. The caller asked for the following:

a.    The name and title of the person they talked to

b.    The name, title and email of the person to whom they should send the email

c.     If email was not an option, a mailing address was requested

2.    A letter was emailed (or mailed via USPS if no email address is available) describing the requested information with information regarding how to respnd via survey link, the deadline for response and how non-responses would be handled in the survey. The survey consisted of the following 3 questions:

a.     "Will you provide the amount of a selected nutrient for a selected product on an energy basis"? The nutritional level of a randomly selected nutrient in a randomly selected diet manufactured by that manufacturer.  One of 8 nutrients (arginine, calcium, sodium, copper, zinc, vitamin D, thiamine, or choline) was randomly selected for that manufacturer. Each nutrient was assigned a number between 1-8 and a number was randomly selected for each manufacturer using Random.org.  To randomly select the diet for each manufacturer (all using Random.org), first, a dog or cat diet was randomly selected, then a wet or dry diet was randomly selected. All of the manufacturers’ diets fitting these criteria were numbered and one diet was randomly selected using Random.org. The letter requested this information in mg or gram/1000 kcal as fed or, if not available, for % as fed and kcal/kg so that mg/1000 kcal can be calculated.

b.    "Do you employ or utilize a nutrition expert to formulate your diets in your company? Note: If you use a contract manufacturer, please provide this information for the contract manufacturer". Choices included:

                               i.     Yes/no

                              ii.     Qualifications

1.    ACVN or ECVCN diplomate

2.    Nutritionist with a PhD in animal nutrition

3.    Nutritionist with a MS in animal nutrition

4.    Other (describe)

                             iii.     Full-time, part-time, consultant, other (describe)

c.     Which of the following is true regarding the manufacturing plant(s) where your pet food (not including treats) is manufactured?

                               i.     We own all of them

                              ii.     We own some of them (% of pet food made in ones not owned by your company)

                             iii.     We own none of them 

1.    We contract manufacturer

2.    We manufacture in sites owned by other companies

3.    Both

4.    Other (describe)

B.    Outcomes

If there was no response within 2 weeks and an email address was available, a 2ndemail was sent to the manufacturer requesting they complete the survey within 2 weeks.  If no email was available, the manufacturer was called again in an attempt to get an email address to which the survey could be sent.  If no email address could be obtained, but an online contact form existed – the letter was submitted this way. If no email address could be obtained and there was no online contact form, a printed letter was sent to the address on file, via USPS, requesting response to the survey. For all 2ndrequests, manufacturers were given a deadline of 2 weeks.

If there was no response within 2 weeks, a letter was sent (USPS) to the manufacturer requesting they complete the survey with a deadline of 2 weeks.

1.    If there was no response to the final letter within 2 weeks, the manufacturer is listed in the table as “did not respond”.

2.    If the manufacturer was contacted, but declined to provide information, the manufacturer is listed as “declined to respond”.

3.    For manufacturers with contract manufacturers

a.    If the manufacturer responded that they use a contract manufacturer and that they had to send survey to the contract manufacturer to fill out, the same deadlines and procedures were followed. Contract manufacturers are noted in the results table.

b.    If the manufacturer provided the name of their contract manufacturer and asked PNA to contact the contract manufacturer to fill out the survey, the survey was sent to the contract manufacturer with the same deadlines and procedures.  If the contract manufacturer did not answer, the manufacturer was re-contacted once to give them another opportunity to provide the information.

c.     If the manufacturer declined to provide information and declined to give PNA the name of the contract manufacturer, they are listed as “declined to respond.” 

4.    Possible results for Nutritional Information question (A.2.a)

a.    “Provided information” means that all of the following were achieved:

                               i.     By the stated deadlines, the manufacturer provided the nutritional level of the randomly selected nutrient for a randomly selected diet (either in mg or gram/1000 kcal as fed or, if not available, in percent as fed with corresponding kcal/kg so that mg or gram/1000 kcal can be calculated)

                              ii.     The number provided was above the AAFCO minimum for that nutrient.

                             iii.     Where an AAFCO maximum is available, the number provided was below the AAFCO maximum for that nutrient.

b.    Provided information but nutrient did not meet AAFCO requirement; The manufacturer provided information but nutrient result was below AAFCO minimum or above AAFCO maximum

c.     Did not respond: The manufacturer did not respond to the request for information as outlined in B.1.

d.    Declined to respond: The manufacturer declined to respond to the request for information as outlined in B.2. 

e.    Incomplete information: The manufacturer could not provide adequate information in order to compare nutrients to the AAFCO protocol (e.g., could not provide information on kcal/kg).

f.     Implausible results. If the manufacturer provided information in response to question 2a that, based on scientific review, appears to be implausible, the manufacturer was contacted with an email that stated that the information they provided appeared to be implausible. The manufacturer had 2 weeks to amend their response. It is noted in the table that the manufacturer provided amended information. If the manufacturer did not amend the information, it is noted in the table that the manufacturer provided “implausible results” 

 

5.    Possible results for A.2.b. (nutrition expert) and A.2.c. (manufacturing plant)

a.    Information provided by the manufacturer regarding the nutrition expert and manufacturing plants will be listed in the results.

b.    Did not respond: The manufacturer did not respond to the request for information as outlined in B.1.

c.    Declined to respond: The manufacturer declined to respond to the request for information as outlined in B.2.