How to read a label

AAFCO Regulation PF3: Brand and Product Name. Regarding the use of ingredient name in the brand, product name or elsewhere on the label.

“100%” – Can only be used if the product contains a single ingredient (not including water sufficient for processing)

“95 % rule” – The provision that the named ingredients (sourced from animal products) constitute no less than 70% of the weight of the product; therefore, water added for processing cannot exceed 25% of the total product weight.

“25 % rule” – This rule provides that the named ingredient(s) constitute no less than 10% of the weight of the product; thus, the water added for processing may not exceed 25% of the total product weight. If more than one ingredient is displayed in the product name, the ingredient(s) of lesser inclusion rates must consist of no less than 3% of the total product weight. Furthermore, this regulation provides that if a descriptor is used (ie. dinner, entrée, formula, recipe, etc.), it implies other ingredients are included in the product formula.

“with” – If this term is used, it implies that the named ingredient/ingredients constitute no less than 3% of the weight of the product.

AAFCO Regulation PF4: Regarding Expression of Guarantees.


Mandatory order:

Crude Protein


Crude Fat


Crude fiber




Ash (optional)

Others (minerals, vitamins, etc.)


If a pet food specialty contains moisture in excess of 78%, the label needs to show the specification “stew, gravy, sauce, broth, aspic, juice”.

AAFCO Regulation PF5: Regarding Ingredients.

– Ingredients shall be listed in descending order by their predominance by weight.

– Ingredients shall be listed and identified by the name and definition established by AAFCO. Any ingredients for which no name and definition have been so established shall be identified by the common or usual name of the ingredient.

AAFCO Regulation PF8: Regarding Feeding Directions.

Mandatory for products labeled as Complete and Balanced:
Feedings measured in frequency and (weight/unit of products) per (weight only) of dog/cat.

AAFCO Regulation PF9: Regarding Statement of Calorie Content.

Calories must be measured in terms of Metabolized Energy (ME) on an “as fed” basis as kcal/kg of product a/o as kcal/unit of product. The calorie content is determined by calculation (modified Atwater formula) or in accordance with a testing procedure established by AAFCO.

Guidelines for “Natural” Claims.

In the AAFCO-defined feed term, “natural,” the use of this term is only acceptable in reference to the product as a whole when all of the ingredients and components meet the following definition:

“A feed or feed ingredient derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subject to physical processing, heat processing, rendering, purification, extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis or fermentation, but not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic except in amounts as might occur in good manufacturing practices.”