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Pet Food VS Human Food

Pet food regulations are complex. If you want to learn more, check out our table that compares the requirements for pet food with human food rules.

Pet Food Human Food
Registration required in most states No registration requirement
Model state law developed and maintained by AAFCO (creates consistency from state to state) No model state law
Model state regulations developed and maintained by AAFCO (creates consistency from state to state) No model state regulations
Standard ingredient definitions adopted by AAFCO No standard ingredient definitions
AAFCO-defined ingredients must be listed on the label No corresponding labeling requirement
Rules exist for ingredient not defined by AAFCO:
  • Can be recognized by FDA (Code of Federal Regulations, approved food additives, or GRAS)
  • Can be common and usual terms such as "beef”, "chicken” or "corn”
Ingredients can be recognized by FDA (Code of Federal Regulations, approved food additives, or GRAS)
Meets complex labeling rules
  • Covers formatting
  • Covers product terms
  • Covers font size
Labeling rules on terms for certain products
Nutrient content is guaranteed Nutrition facts are general (e.g., "serving size approximately…”)
Most products designed to provide total nutrition (called "complete and balanced”)
  • Can be analyzed in a laboratory to ensure complete and balanced nutrition (down to specific amino acids)
  • Can be evaluated by feeding trial
Few "complete” foods for people beyond infant formula
Collective terms not allowed in ingredient list (such as "spices”). Specific ingredient must be listed. Collective terms allowed
Multiple possible ingredients not allowed in ingredient list (such as "corn oil, palm oil or vegetable oil”) Multiple possible ingredients are allowed in ingredient list
Canned/wet food products meet same federal requirements as for human food Low-acid canned foods must be processed in compliance with 21 CFR part 113

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