From Corn Gluten Meal to Corn Protein Meal: Updating the Pet Food Label to Improve Understanding 

PFI’s Dana Brooks, president and CEO, discusses the recent ingredient name change of corn gluten meal, as PFI works with AAFCO to create a more truthful, accurate pet food label. 

From Corn Gluten Meal to Corn Protein Meal: Updating the Pet Food Label to Improve Understanding 

More than ever before, pet owners seek to make the healthiest decisions for their pets as they select products from the pet food aisle. Today’s consumer is more label conscious and strives to make the best choices about ingredients and other information conveyed on a pet food package. Therefore, it’s critical that ingredient names and other facts appearing on pet food labels are accurate, truthful, and not misleading in any way. That is why the Pet Food Institute worked with the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and its ingredient definition process to change the ingredient name “corn gluten meal” to “corn protein meal,” as corn is gluten free. Corn protein meal has been a source of high-quality protein in pet food for more than a century, helping pet food makers create complete and balanced nutrition for America’s dogs and cats. 

There Is No Gluten in Corn Protein Meal

The term corn gluten meal as an animal food ingredient was first defined by AAFCO in the early 1900s. At that time, “gluten” was used synonymously with the word protein, and any ingredient with a separate endosperm was termed as gluten. That is no longer true today, and some consumers actively avoid products containing gluten because of food sensitivities as well as its potential to cause an allergenic response in humans. The fact is, though, there has never been gluten in corn gluten meal and labeling it as such has been misleading to consumers for a long time. 

Corn protein meal is a source of high-quality protein used in pet food products and contains no gluten at all. Gluten is only found in wheat, triticale, rye and barley, and some oats. 

In fact, corn protein meal is not the only name change approved by AAFCO. Grain sorghum gluten meal is changing to grain sorghum protein meal for the same reason – there is no gluten in sorghum, and officials are seeking to make feed labels accurate. 

Consumers Are Confused by the Term Corn Gluten Meal 

A nationally representative consumer research study of pet owners was conducted in July 2020, which revealed that of those surveyed, 78% believed that gluten was a component of corn gluten meal. When asked if they would feel misled if they learned that there was no gluten in corn gluten meal, 85% said yes. Since the regulatory authorities that oversee pet food are committed to truthful and non-misleading information on labels, and consumers clearly misunderstood and felt misled by the term corn gluten meal, this ingredient name change is a positive move towards greater understanding. 

Over the next two years, pet food makers will update their labels to reflect this ingredient name change, which will result in a more truthful, accurate label. 

Remember although the name is changing, corn protein meal remains a high-quality protein source for your pet, helping to provide complete and balanced nutrition that pet food makers are committed to providing to your best friend. 


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