No AAFCO ā€˜Controlled Copperā€™ claim for pet food

AFFCO members voted not to establish a voluntary ā€œControlled Copperā€ claim for dog food following a group of veterinariansā€™ 2021 proposal.

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Adapted from a press release:

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) Pet Food Committee voted not to establish a voluntary ā€œControlled Copperā€ claim for dog food. Research and discussion for a potential claim had been ongoing since February 2021 after an article was published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) concerning the current AAFCO nutritional guidelines for copper (Cu) in dog foods.

AAFCO convened an expert panel to review the relevant veterinary literature and evaluate establishing a safe upper limit, or maximum tolerance, for Cu in dog food. The panel concluded there was insufficient data to establish such a limit at this time but proposed voluntary language for a ā€œControlled Copperā€ claim.

A subsequent Copper Claim Workgroup further evaluated the proposed voluntary ā€œControlled Copperā€ claim language, along with additional guidelines for Cu in dog food in recognition of concerns from pet owners and veterinarians.

On May 30, 2024, the Pet Food Committee reviewed the findings and the proposed voluntary language from the original expert panel, the notes from the copper workgroup, and feedback from veterinarians, animal nutritionists, consumer groups and the general public but ultimately failed to reach a consensus and voted ā€œnoā€ on the proposed voluntary ā€œControlled Copperā€ claim language. AAFCO will continue to monitor new scientific literature as it becomes available and may consider the topic again in the future if additional data warrants another review.

Vets said copper in dog food needs AAFCO safe upper limit

Dogs need copper in their diets, but too much can be harmful. A group of veterinary scientists believes a two-decade-long trend of increasing liver disease in dogs may be associated with copper in commercial dog foods. While not every dog has the same sensitivity to copper, the group suggested that a safe upper limit be established for copper in dog food to protect those dogs that are.

ā€œThe big problem is not that there is too much copper in these foods per se,ā€ Joseph Wakshlag, DVM, PhD, told Petfood Industry in a previous article. He and five others published a 2021 paper in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association referenced by AAFCO.

ā€œIf you made a diet without any copper, you would be deemed insufficient by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), so manufacturers use premixes that have additional copper. Since there is no safe upper limit established by AAFCO, then there is no control over how much a company puts in. In many cases, typical diets will be adequate without the additional copper, but companies want to cover any potential deficiency and end up putting more in than is necessary, and copper sensitive dogs are likely to have issues.ā€

Pet food ingredient premixes and consumer demands for animal products in dog food may have combined to create the potential overabundance of copper in dog foods, the group wrote. Trends like evolutionary, biologically-appropriate, whole-prey and similar diets led to increased use of organ meat, which can have higher copper concentrations than other parts.

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