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The Legalities Of Pet Food Labeling

(credit:  Tim A. Clary/Getty Images)

(credit: Tim A. Clary/Getty Images)

By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - We all know how to read (and how to ignore) nutritional content on food labels, but many people don’t realize that pet food labels are also legally regulated.

Diamond Pet Foods has voluntarily recalled dog food because of concerns about salmonella. But people unwittingly make pet food choices that have much wider-ranging health consequences to their pet than the sporadic pet food recalls.

The name of the food itself is more telling than you realize. Products consisting primarily of meat, poultry, or fish that have simple names like “Tuna cat food” or “Beef for Dogs” must have at least 95% of the listed ingredient. But when a manufacturer adds a word in the middle, like “Beef Dinner for dogs” or “Chicken Formula Cat Food”, it means the product has at least 25% of the named ingredient but less than 95%.

And then the word “with” as in “Dog Food WITH Lamb” is more key than you realize, because it means that there’s 3% of the named ingredient. So make sure that you don’t serve contaminated food when you hear of a recall, but visit fda.gov to see more labeling requirements you need to know every day.