|Originally posted by Hermoine
But they are all listed as approved by AAFCo. If they aren't good, then why would they approve them?
I try to feed the best I can afford but it is hard to figure out what that is.
Where do you find Wysong. A lot of these I have never heard of.
"â€œCOMPLETE AND BALANCED.â€ A food may be labeled as â€œcomplete and balancedâ€ if it meets the standards set by a group called AAFCO, the American Association of Feed Control Officials. These standards were formulated in the early 1990s by panels of canine and feline nutrition experts. Standards set by AAFCO have been adopted by most states, which are then responsible for enforcement. However, in many cases, state enforcement is negligible.
A food may be certified by AAFCO in two ways: (1) meeting published standards for content, or (2) feeding trials.
(1) Nutrient Profiles. These standards set the required amounts of protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and so forth. These theoretically have the benefit of extensive research behind them. However, according to researchers at the University of California at Davis, the fundamental research supporting standards for adult cat food includes one study on protein requirements, one study on amino acid requirements, and ZERO studies on vitamin requirements. Yet AAFCO publishes standards specifying exactly how much of each vitamin must be included in adult cat food. Where do these values come from? They are interpreted and extrapolated from research in kittens (which has been more extensive) and from research in other species, mostly chickens and rats. Is this valid? We do not know.
Moreover, any manufacturer can synthesize a food containing sufficient amounts of each ingredient according to the standards, yet an animal will ultimately starve to death on it. How could this happen? Because the standards do not address the issues of â€œbioavailabilityâ€ of nutrients to the animal. Certain forms of vitamins and minerals, for example, are poorly absorbed from the digestive tract. A noted veterinary nutrition textbook claims that a food can be created from old leather boots, wood shavings, and crankcase oil that will meet the technical requirements for protein, carbohydrates, and fats, yet would be completely indigestible. Unfortunately, given the ingredients used by some manufacturers, â€œOld Bootâ€ may be closer to the truth than anyone wants to admit!
(2) Feeding Trials. These are considered the â€œgold standardâ€ of pet food formulation. However, when you look at the actual AAFCO protocols for an adult maintenance diet, a manufacturer must feed exclusively the test food to only six animals for six months. (Eight animals are required at the outset; however, two of them may be dropped from the trial for non-diet-related reasons.) Foods intended for growth and reproduction must be tested for only 10 weeks. Most of the large, reputable pet food producers, such as Iams, Hills, Walthams and Purina, maintain large colonies of dogs and cats, and test their foods on hundreds of animals over years or even multiple generations. Other manufacturers rely on facilities that keep animals for this purpose to do the studies for them. It is easy to see how a poor quality diet could be fed for only six months without seeing adverse health effects, and legitimately be labeled as meeting AAFCO standards. In fact, studies have confirmed that even foods that pass feeding trials may still be inadequate for long-term maintenance.
Keep in mind, too, that the standards, such as they are, set only â€œminimumsâ€ and â€œmaximums,â€ not â€œoptimums.â€ Commercial foods are designed to be adequate for the average animal, but may not be suitable for an individual animalâ€™s variable needs."