Archive for Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Nutrition labels on pet food sought

May 14, 2008


— Future pet food labels that indicate the number of calories per serving could help obese animals shed the extra pounds, a veterinarians' association recommended to the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday.

"Pet owners do not always know how much to feed. They may not realize the high number of calories associated with some of the pet food they are giving their pets," said John Branam, testifying on behalf of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

The FDA held the hearing as part of legislation passed last year that requires the administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine to establish pet food labeling standards in two years.

According to the AVMA, 54 million pets in the U.S. are obese, an "epidemic" that the association says is growing at an alarming rate.

But Nancy Cook, vice president of the Pet Food Institute's technical and regulatory affairs, said that calorie labels are unnecessary and won't prevent obesity in pets.

"It doesn't work for people," said Cook, a voice for the industry's manufacturers.

The labels already contain serving sizes based on a pet's size. Calorie information can be obtained from food manufacturers, she said.

But the AVMA said that it's not consumers' and veterinarians' jobs to track down manufacturers for that information.

A standard nutritional label that lists the number of calories per weight of food and per household items such as a can or a cup would prevent owners from overfeeding their pets, the group said.

Although pet obesity is determined by other factors, such as genetics, the environment and medical influence, a standard label would make it easier for vets to recommend the correct food portions, Branam said.


Adrienne Sanders 10 years, 1 month ago

ECM, you're right that free-feeding is the biggest problem. Last time I took my cat to the vet she praised the fact that he maintained his weight from last year and said, "How did you do that?" Ummm I feed him the same amount every day, it's not hard.

Adrienne Sanders 10 years, 1 month ago

sdinges... weight management cat foods are often higher in carbohydrates than regular ones, which is the opposite of the direction you want to go, as you're already apparently figured out. What you really ought to consider is switching to canned cat food. Even the cheapo grocery store brand is vastly higher in protein than any dry food. If you look under "Diet-related Documents" at this site you can see the breakdown for lots of different foods.

gr 10 years, 1 month ago

When my dog eats a medium sized rabbit along the side of the road and part of it is missing, how many calories is that? If people don't care about their own health, they probably don't care about their pet's health. Maybe, but not likely. Who is going to really read label directions for a pet? And if so, who is going to measure it out? Someone who has never had a concept of portion sizes and control?How about mandatory forcing all owners to pay for individually wrapped meal sizes? What if their pet is or small size, medium size, or large size? Will they be able to determine which portion amount applies to their pet? You say weigh the pet? What if it is already obese? What about the type of pet or breed? A bunch of nonsense.

ECM 10 years, 1 month ago

The fact is the current guidelines are written to cover a broad (no pun intended) range of dogs. What is the correct amount for one is too much for another. The bigger problem in pet obesity is pet owners who free feed (keep the bowl filled) and think the pet will regular thier intake. While a few can and do, most can't and will not. There is plenty of info on the bag if calories is truely what you are watching. Again the best thing any pet owner can do is talk to their veterinarian about the correct amount for their individual pet.

Adrienne Sanders 10 years, 1 month ago

If you feed your pet the current recommended amount on the label, you just about guarantee your pet will be overweight. They want to sell more pet food so the quantities they put on there are generally too much.The argument that "it doesn't work for people" is bogus. You give your pet X amount of food and it can't sneak into the fridge at night or run out to Dairy Queen and cheat on it's diet.

Adrienne Sanders 10 years, 1 month ago

sdinges, what kind of cat food do you have? That's not typical. It's not a waste of time to think about these things when your beloved pet has health problems that could have been prevented but you didn't know any better b/c the pet food industry doesn't even want to give you a hint about what's in the food. It would also be a really easy thing for manufacturers to add info such as calories to the label. And it takes no effort at all to use a measuring cup as a scoop and therefore know how much food you're giving.

sdinges 10 years, 1 month ago

I just checked - my cat food has calorie content listed (per cup and per kg). This seems like inane legislation. GR is right.

Confrontation 10 years, 1 month ago

Such a waste of time. I care more about childhood obesity, rather than some stupid chubby poodle. Priorities in this country are completely screwed up.

sdinges 10 years, 1 month ago

I currently use Science Diet (indoor), which lists on the bag. But I'm switching to Pro Plan Weight Management, because... you guessed it... my cats are getting fat! I was able to find the calorie content of Pro Plan on their website very easily, but I couldn't find it on the container.Not that it matters - when I researched putting my cats on a diet, I found out you're better off focusing on the protein content of the cat food anyway (the higher the better).

gr 10 years, 1 month ago

I don't know why people think they need brain surgery to figure this out. If your cat is getting fatter and fatter - feed it less. If it is still getting fat, cut back some more. If it is getting skinny, feed it a little more. Is this that too hard to figure out?It's just like people who want to lose weight - don't eat so much! It's easier with pets since it's serving size only (with some differences in brands and types) instead of a wide variety and quality of "food". You don't need to worry whether it's the "science diet" or any other type of nonsense. Just make sure it's not the "see food" diet - pet or otherwise.

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