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What role does the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) have in the regulation of commercial pet food?


  • The AAFCO is an advisory body comprised of federal and state officials. Its key role in regulation is to:
    • Provide model bills and regulations for the production, labeling, distribution, and/or sale of animal feeds in the U.S.1 AAFCO does not enforce these model regulations.2 Enforcement of pet food regulations happens on the state level. However, the majority of states voluntarily adopt all or part of the AAFCO Model Bill and Regulations into their own feed laws.
    • Through these model regulations, AAFCO’s objective is to:
      1. Establish the name and definition of most ingredients (what it may or may not contain) for all animal feeds, including those for dogs, cats, horses, livestock, pocket pets, and exotics.
      2. Set 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.3 Two life stages for dogs and cats have been published: growth/reproduction and adult maintenance.3 There are no published nutrient profiles for senior life stages, large-breed dogs, or performance athletes.
      3. Provide guidance on all aspects of pet food and animal feed labeling. 2
The Science Behind our Recommendations
1. Welcome to AAFCO. The Association of American Feed Control Officials Web site. http://www.aafco.org. Accessed February 20, 2014. 2. The Business of Pet Food. The Association of American Feed Control Officials Web site. http://www.petfood.aafco.org/Home.aspx. Accessed February 20, 2014. 3. Association of American Feed Control Officials. 2011 Official Publication. Association of American Feed Control Officials, Inc. 2011: 146.