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Pet Food Product Naming

September 26, 2022

What’s in a name?

A products name is one of first thing consumers look for when making the decision to make a purchase. Brand recognition important in establishing and maintaining trust but the individual product name is what seals the deal. For that reason, manufacturers often use whimsical names or techniques to emphasize a particular aspect of the product that may increase the appeal to consumers.

Many product names incorporate the name of an ingredient to highlight its inclusion in the product. This is particularly effected when the product in the pet product is also used in human products and can boast health familiar health benefits. To help

AAFCO Naming Rules

To help protect consumers from being falsely influenced in their purchases, AAFCO has four rules that apply to pet product naming.

  • The 95% Rule

This rule applies to products consisting primarily of very few ingredients. The products have simple names like “Beef for Dogs” or “Chicken for Cats”. In these examples, at least 95% of the product must be the named ingredient (beef or chicken, respectively). This calculation does not include the water added during processing. If counting the added water, 70% of the product must include the named product if.

If a product name includes two ingredients like “Beef & Sweet Potato” or “Large Breed Chicken & Rice” then the two named ingredients together must comprise 95% of the total weight. The ingredients must also be listed in the name in order of prevalence in the product. For example, if there is more sweet potato than beef in the product then it would be called “Sweet Potato and Beef Recipe.”

  • The Dinner or 25% Rule

If an ingredient in a canned or dry product is less than 95% but at least 25% of the total product ingredients, then it can still be included in the name but must also include a qualifying descriptive term. Popular qualifying terms include “dinner”, “recipe”, “entrée”, “nugget”, “platter” and “formula”. Product names may look like “Grass-fed Beef Recipe” or “Chicken Feast”. Similar to the 95% rule, if there is more than one ingredient included in the “dinner” name, the combination of the ingredients must equal at least 25% and be listed in order of prevalence.

The named ingredient may not always be the primary ingredient. In the example “Grass-fed Beef Recipe” only one-quarter of the product must be beef. In fact, beef may be the third or fourth ingredient on the ingredient list. The ingredient list should be included in the dog food label or cat food label.

  • The 3% or With Rule

This rule was created to allow manufactures to make claims about minor ingredients that may appeal to consumers but do not significantly contribute to the ingredients in the product. If the product contains at least 3% of the ingredient it can be included in the product name. AAFCO regulations allow these ingredients to be highlighted using the word “with.” For example, a cat food may have 3% tuna in it and be labeled as “Cat food with Tuna.”

  • The Flavor Rule

The flavor rule eliminates the need to meet a specific percentage requirement. However, the product must contain an amount sufficient to be detected. The ingredient being identified as a flavor must appear on the label in the same size, style and color as the word for the ingredient it is mimicking. For example in the name “Tuna Flavored Cat Food”, “tuna” and “flavored” must be the same size, style and color.

“Digests” may also be used as a flavor. Digests are materials treated with heat, enzymes and/or acids to form concentrated natural flavors. A tuna flavor can be achieved by using only a small amount of tuna digest. This can allow a product to be labeled a tuna flavored even though no actual tuna is in the food.

Broths and stocks are also used as flavor additives. Milk flavor can be achieved by using Whey.

RL Food Testing Laboratory Guarantees

RL Food Testing offers pet food analysis that includes AAFCO compliant Guaranteed Analysis. The Guaranteed Analysis will not only include the required crude nutrient values for your product label but will also include information needed for product naming like ingredient percentage values including and excluding added water.

We provide pet food testing for a variety of pet products including dog and cat food and treats.  Contact us 7 days a week, 24 hours a day to discuss your unique needs – (877) 753-6631.

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