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The manufacturing of commercially processed dry pet foods is a multi-billion dollar industry. The pet food manufacturers control their interests by funding research at veterinarian schools, teaching veterinarians about nutrition, and marketing their product to the consumer in very well thought out advertising. Pet foods are supposed to be well balanced and nutritious, but are they? With the rise of chronic illnesses in pets and pet food recalls the safety of pet foods are in question. The ingredients used in pet foods have been under increasing scrutiny by the consumer forcing them to turn to other alternatives such as raw food or homemade diets. The industry is largely self regulating, however American Association of Feed Control Officers (AAFCO), the Food & Drug Administration/Center for Veterinary Medicine (FDA/CVM), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Research Council (NRC) all have a part in regulations and standards (Martin, 2008). AAFCO, according to Ann Martin (2008), “is a commercial enterprise that attempts to regulate quality and safety of pet food but has no regulatory power (p.51).” AAFCO sets the standards for nutritional profiles, labeling procedures, ingredient definition, and uniformity within the industry. The FDA/CVM will approve new ingredients, ensure pet food safety, and deals with contamination/recall issues, while the NRC evaluates research and makes nutrient recommendations. The USDA regulates pet food labels and research (Case, Daristotle, Hayek, and Raasch, 2011). The FDA/CVM will not investigate claims of harmful pet foods unless scientific evidence is provided (Martin, 2008).

There is no requirement by the FDA for a pet food to have pre-market approval. “The FDA does require pet foods to be pure, wholesome, contain no harmful or deleterious substances, and be truthfully labelled,” according to Benz, (2000). Labelling of pet foods can be very confusing. Manufacturers use a practice in labelling called “splitting”. Even though the first ingredient listed is a meat, corn in various forms such as ground yellow corn, corn meal, and corn gluten meal makes it the prime ingredient instead of the meat listed first (Martin, 2008). Also, the use of an ingredient that is a generally recognized as safe (GRAS) substance can only be used for an intended purpose. For example, sodium aluminosilicateis is GRAS as an anti-caking agent, but it has been purported to bind mycotoxins and prevent absorption from the intestinal tract and would not be GRAS for that use (Benz, 2000). The pet food manufacturers base their formulations or nutrient profiles on NRC guidelines. Feed trials last only 26 weeks and growth food trials 10 weeks. Nutrient profiles do not test nutrient bioavailability. Feed trials or nutrient trials can be conducted with a family member rule, which means if a product is similar to another, nutritionally, it does not need to be tested (Patrick, 2006).