Pet food labels, like human food and beverage labels, are subject to strict requirements. The FDA imposes regulations so consumers can buy pet food that is safe and nutritious. However, these extensive labeling requirements can quickly become confusing and overwhelming for both manufacturers and labeling companies. Here is a quick guide to a few of the major requirements set by the FDA regarding pet food labels.

Product Name and Purpose

Every package must state the name of the brand and the product’s function. Pet food comes in a few different categories, like complete foods (meals), treats/snacks, nutritional supplements and more. The label design must clearly indicate what part of a pet’s diet the contents are appropriate for. It should also be apparent what kinds of animals can consume that product.

Quantity Statement

Consumers need to know how much of the food they are getting to help with price comparisons. The net volume or net weight must be visible. The appearance of the weight and volume labels are heavily regulated, so check FDA specifications.

Manufacturer’s Name and Address

Customers need to be able to contact representatives of the party responsible for a product. Labeling companies must include the city and/or street address of the manufacturer or distributor on every label. This ensures that buyers can ask questions, make complaints, or just understand where the food originated.

Ingredients

The ingredients list is one of the most important features of a pet food label. Ingredients should be listed in descending order based on what percentage of the content’s weight each represents.

Guaranteed Analysis

Rather like a nutrition facts label, a guaranteed analysis on pet food indicates what percentage of nutrients, like crude protein and crude fat, are present in the pet food or snack.

Nutritional Adequacy Information

This label substantiates quality claims that might be present elsewhere on the label. For example, a “balanced food” would be explained in the nutritional adequacy statement. This label also demonstrates that a food is appropriate for a certain age group, such as puppy food.

Feeding Instructions

An interesting absence from most human food labels, this pet food label explains the best practices for feeding, often with weight guides.

Calorie Statement

Two-thirds of survey respondents “often” check how high or low a food is in calories, but relatively few check the for the same information in their pet food even though it is just as important. This label explains how much energy in kilocalories per kilogram the food provides so that shoppers can ensure pets are getting what they need every day.

While this list is long, it is not necessarily comprehensive. The FDA can update or change regulations for commercial labels, so be sure to check all labeling requirements and communicate openly with labeling companies to ensure your brand if safe for sale.