Jason Meredith
"Bags of Beneful and Pedigree dog food on shelves 2006"

Pet Food Labeling to Get a Significant Upgrade Under New AAFCO Standards

July 31, 2023
The Association of American Feed Control Officials approved changes to the labeling of pet food, treats and supplements, which will be phased in over the next six years.

In the first major update in more than 40 years, members of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) approved new suggested labeling guidelines that will bring updated packaging and label information to pet food, treats and supplements. The new “Model Regulations for Pet Food and Specialty Pet Food” standards are expected to help standardize nutrition information as well as provide clear ingredient statements, storage and handling instructions, says a release from AAFCO, a non-profit organization that regulates the manufacture, sale, and distribution of animal feeds and animal drug remedies.

AAFCO has recommended a six-year transition period for adoption and enforcement of the new regulations that pet food processors and distributors will need to follow. During that transition, some brands will likely move more quickly than others, so consumers will need to be aware of the differences expected.

The label updates fall into four key areas, AAFCO says:

  1. A Nutrition Facts Box will more closely resemble the nutritional panels on human foods packaging.
  2. The Intended Use Statement will be moved to the lower-third of the front display panel to help consumers easily identify the purpose of the pet food.
  3. The Ingredient Statement will be updated to clarify the use of consistent terminology and allow parentheticals and common or usual names for vitamins.
  4. Handling and Storage Instructions may be updated and standardized with optional icons for greater consistency.

AAFCO and its key stakeholders have worked together since 2015 to develop the revised Pet Food Model Regulations, the association says, using several rounds of consumer research as well as feedback from consumers and industry along the way.

About the Author

Andy Hanacek | Senior Editor

Andy Hanacek has covered meat, poultry, bakery and snack foods as a B2B editor for nearly 20 years, and has toured hundreds of processing plants and food companies, sharing stories of innovation and technological advancement throughout the food supply chain. In 2018, he won a Folio:Eddie Award for his unique "From the Editor's Desk" video blogs, and he has brought home additional awards from Folio and ASBPE over the years. In addition, Hanacek led the Meat Industry Hall of Fame for several years and was vice president of communications for We R Food Safety, a food safety software and consulting company.

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