Pet Food Ingredient Identity Protection

Pet Food Ingredient Identity Protection


Regulatory authorities continue to discuss changing the name of “villain” pet food ingredients that industry claims confuses consumers.

During the upcoming (July 30th, 2018) Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) meeting, the discussion of changing the names of particular pet food ingredients will continue. This discussion briefly began a year ago at the 2017 summer AAFCO meeting. Originally the ingredients were referred to as “Villain Ingredients“. ‘Villain’ because consumer perception of ingredients such as by-products, animal digest, animal fat are bad. Regulatory authorities at AAFCO decided to stop referring to these ingredients as ‘villains’ – so as not to further the negative perception. AAFCO then referred to these ingredients as “Negative Ingredients” – but now AAFCO refers to them as “Confusing Pet Food Names“.

Those Villain/Negative/Confusing ingredients – are ones such as By-Products (AAFCO has never publicly provided a full list of ingredient names industry wants to change). Thus far, all that’s been said is ingredients such as by-products or by-product meal – ingredients that consumers have a bad opinion of.

Industry thinks they are great ingredients, consumers do not.

The truth is – both industry and consumers are right. Not all by-products are villains. Not all feed grade ingredients are villains. Many are – but not all.

The problem is that consumers are provided with no clarity on pet food labels to what they are purchasing. As example – the ingredient chicken liver is considered a by-product. If that chicken liver is USDA inspected and passed, this would be a quality ingredient. But if that chicken liver is condemned, diseased, or sourced from a non-slaughtered/dead animal, this would be a waste/inferior ingredient. The problem is that through AAFCO definitions of by-product – both the USDA inspected and passed chicken liver and the condemned chicken liver are welcome into pet food (pet feed) through the ingredients chicken by-product and by-product meal.

Consumers are provided no information to which is which. Consumers are provided with no information to which pet foods utilize USDA inspected and passed by-products and which pet foods utilize condemned/diseased by-products.

The pet food industry wants us (consumers) to base our trust in these ingredients on the percentage of ingredients that are sourced from quality USDA inspected and passed sources. But the reality is – we can’t because not all by-products are quality, many are extremely inferior (if not risky) ingredients.


There are many different types of pie. Apple pie, cherry pie, and pizza pie. And…there is also cow pie.

Question: Blindfolded, would you accept a bite of pie not knowing whether it was an apple pie or cow pie?

This is basically what the pet food industry is expecting from consumers. We are blindfolded from the knowledge of what type of by-product we are providing our pets. They expect us to blindly trust the ingredient. And when we haven’t – now they have urged regulatory authorities of AAFCO to change the ingredient names. Should AAFCO agree to a name change, many consumers will be misled. The varying qualities of by-products will remain the same, the lack of transparency to consumers will remain the same. Changing the name does nothing but further mislead consumers.

There will be quite a few voices representing consumers at the upcoming AAFCO meeting, but – your voice needs to be heard too. For consumers that disagree with a name change of villain/negative/confusing ingredients, please tell your State Department of Agriculture representative you disagree with any name changes. An example email is below.

Dear ________,

The upcoming AAFCO meeting (to be held in Ft. Lauderdale, FL July 30, 2018) will host a discussion on “Confusing Pet Food Names” during the Ingredient Definitions Committee session. These “confusing pet food names” are referencing ingredients such as by-products, by-product meal, animal fat, and animal digest. It has been stated at previous AAFCO meetings that industry is wishing to change these ingredient names due to poor consumer perception of them.

As a pet food consumer, I have a poor opinion of any pet food ingredient that is allowed through incomplete AAFCO definitions to be sourced from diseased or non-slaughtered animal materials. To change the name of these ingredients does not change my opinion of the ingredient.

As a resident of the state that you are employed by, I am asking you as my state representative at AAFCO to not approve ingredient name changes. Instead, I ask you to bring to AAFCO the request for new pet food ingredient definitions that clearly define human edible ingredients used in pet food (USDA inspected and passed, transported and held according to human food regulations). As example, the existing definition of chicken in pet food allows for USDA inspected and passed chicken or diseased/condemned chicken. I want to know what I am purchasing. I should not – as a pet food consumer of this state – be put in a position of guessing whether my pet’s food contains edible or condemned ingredients.

And, as my State Department of Agriculture representative – I request that all pet food ingredient definitions be published on the Department’s website. Freedom of Information rights require this information to be public. I ask you to provide all pet food ingredient definitions as public information for all consumers of our state.

Thank you –

[your name]

State Feed Officials need to be reminded who they are working for (it should be consumers). Please remind them. Send your email.

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Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
Association for Truth in Pet Food

Pet Food Ingredient Identity Protection
Become a member of our pet food consumer Association. Association for Truth in Pet Food is a a stakeholder organization representing the voice of pet food consumers at AAFCO and with FDA. Your membership helps representatives attend meetings and voice consumer concerns with regulatory authorities. Click Here to learn more.

What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
Is your dog or cat eating risk ingredients?  Chinese imports? Petsumer Report tells the ‘rest of the story’ on over 5,000 cat foods, dog foods, and pet treats. 30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee. Click Here to preview Petsumer Report.

Pet Food Ingredient Identity Protection

The 2018 List
Susan’s List of trusted pet foods. Click Here to learn more.

Have you read Buyer Beware?  Click Here

Cooking pet food made easy, Dinner PAWsible


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