Labeling in the pet food industry is carefully controlled by state and federal regulations. Words such as “complete” and/or “balanced” cannot arbitrarily appear on a label. Before any labeling claims that a product is complete and/or balanced, manufacturers must prove it to the satisfaction of the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
The AAFCO is made up of representatives from each state, and representatives from the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration. The AAFCO is closely affiliated with the individual state departments of agriculture. Manufacturers must prove that the product actually meets or exceeds the acceptable guidelines as set forth by the National Research Council.
Because of the variety of dog foods now available to the consumer, he finds himself faced with the question, which is best? Canned, dry, or semi-moist food?
Complete and balanced foods are available in all three forms.
Nutritionally, they are the same. Only the means used to arrive at the end result (putting it in a can, bag or box) are different. In canned foods, fresh or frozen meat or meat by-products are used as a source of protein, though they are not the only source of it. In dry foods, the very same products are dehydrated, and other ingredients added to compensate for any loss of nutrients during the dehydration process.
This raises another set of questions.
Why then is there such a wide diversification of prices? How can some dog foods be priced at just a few dollars while seemingly the same amount of nutrients in a more popular brand be priced triple that amount? If both foods are labeled as “complete” and “balanced” then what is the difference?
The answer can be found in the list of ingredients the manufacturer uses to make the product. The ingredients used will affect the palatability of the product – that is – how it tastes and smells.
A person sitting down at the dinner table with a plate of broiled lobster, french fries, corn on the cob, and homemade yeast rolls would really savor the taste and smell of the meal, provided he enjoyed such cuisine. Then again, the smell of Hungarian goulash emanating from the table alongside wouldn’t turn him on at all. A person adverse to lobster meal might very well relish the Hungarian goulash. The price paid for each of the two meals would vary greatly.
In other words – people’s tastes differ – and likewise, dog’s tastes differ.
The manufacturer strives to develop the one taste that will be enjoyed by the largest percentage of dogs. To this end, each manufacturer strives for consistency. The job for proper blending to achieve taste and smell falls directly upon the manufacturer’s quality control staff.