Petfood mislabeling: What you need to know
Consumers are scrutinizing petfood labels more than ever. How do you make sure they're getting the correct information?
Petfood mislabeling is one of the top issues in the industry today. As consumers become more savvy about what their pets are eating, they look to—and depend on—product packaging to point them in the right direction. When something happens on the manufacturing end, such as the contamination of an ingredient, companies must maintain transparency to keep customer confidence. And when third-party studies are released calling the validity of product labeling into question, the industry must be able to respond.
Claims such as “grain-free” and “gluten-free” have no regulatory language as regards petfood, according to Dr. David Dzanis, DVM, DACVN, CEO of Regulatory Discretion Inc. and a writer and consultant on nutrition, labeling and regulation. In his September 2014 Petfood Industry magazine “Petfood Insights” column, Dzanis said that in spite of this, there are important factors to consider when making a claim in order to survive possible regulatory scrutiny.
For example, to truly pass the labeling test, petfood products claiming to be “grain-free” should avoid more than the obvious, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-defined cereal grains (barley, corn, rice, wheat, etc.). It’s also important to avoid any use of grain fractions (e.g., cornstarch, oat hulls, wheat middlings) and the use of any fats, oils or other ingredients derived from cereal grains in any manner could potentially compromise the truthfulness of the claim, said Dzanis.
“Gluten-free” is another label that has made the jump to petfood, but while it’s regulated for human food there is no accompanying petfood guidance. However, the…