AAFCO is an organization of state and federal officials who regulate pet food. AAFCO stands for the Association of American Feed Control Officials. Representatives of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and state regulators participate in AAFCO to develop uniform laws, regulations and rules for pet food products as well as feed products for livestock. AAFCO maintains The Business of Pet Food website to explain the regulatory requirements enforced on the pet food industry.
AAFCO has adopted definitions for many of the pet food ingredients found in cat and dog food and has developed complex rules for pet food labels.
Every year AAFCO publishes its Official Publication (OP), a compilation of the most current model law, model regulations, labeling rules, ingredient definitions and other guidance materials adopted by the organization. Copies of the OP are available for purchase from AAFCO.
AAFCO maintains nutrient profiles for cat and dogs food and has developed procedures, called a feeding protocol, to evaluate whether cat and dog food products contain the essential nutrients for healthy pets. Products that provide "complete and balanced" nutrition, or that are similarly labeled, must state whether their nutritional content was verified by testing in a laboratory or through a feeding trial.
The full AAFCO membership meets twice per year, typically in January and early August.