Pet Food Terms
words associated with organic vs. natural pet foodunlimited
Organic vs. Simple vs. Limited Ingredient
Many trends in the human food industry have moved from pet parents’ plates to their pets’ food bowls. That includes trends in organic, non-GMO and gluten-free foods, as well as “clean eating” and “simple living” lifestyles.   What, exactly, do terms like “natural,” “organic” and “limited ingredient” really mean when it comes to pet food? Let’s get to the bottom of some of these terms, so you’ll know what’s in the bottom of your pet’s food dish. “Natural” pet food What makes a cat or dog food “natural” has more to do with what isn’t in the food than what is. According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), for a pet food to be labeled “natural,” it must be made only with ingredients or components of ingredients that came solely from plant, animal or mined sources and without artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. If chemically created vitamins or minerals are included but all other ingredients comply with AAFCO’s definition of natural, the pet food can be labeled “natural with added vitamins and minerals.” “Limited ingredient” pet food No official regulatory definition for “limited ingredient” pet food exists. The first limited ingredient diets were called elimination diets because they were originally used by veterinarians to help diagnose food allergy or other adverse food reaction in their patients. These diets were made with a single, novel protein ingredient and possibly a single novel carbohydrate ingredient, and were not intended for long-term feeding. Today’s limited ingredient dog and cat food may be made from a widely varying number of ingredients — from as few as three, plus vitamins and minerals, to some number less than a brand’s standard products. Unlike early offerings, today’s limited ingredient diets provide complete nutrition. “Organic” pet food Would it surprise you to learn that “organic” pet food and organic human food are governed by the same regulations? Because there is no federal order that determines what organic pet food is or isn’t, pet food manufacturers who want to use the organic label must follow human organic food standards. That means an organic pet food must be made from ingredients that were produced without antibiotics, synthetic growth hormones, synthetic or chemical fertilizers, or unapproved pesticides. In addition, ingredients must not be genetically engineered or irradiated. Organic pet food may be completely or partially organic, according to the USDA’s National Organic Program. To be labeled “100 percent organic,” all ingredients in the food must be organic; “organic” pet food must be made from at least 95 percent organic ingredients. A food made from at least 70 percent organic ingredients may be labeled as “made with organic.”

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