What's Beyond the Label - Raw Food 101
When it comes to raw food there are a lot of "ifs, ands, & buts" so to speak. It is definitely up and coming in the veterinary nutrition world, and like kibble, not all commercial raw diets are created equally.
So what does AAFCO stand for? AAFCO stands for Association of American Feed Control Officials. So now, what does that mean? Essentially it means that they provide the standards for a complete and balanced diet. They do not, however, test the food themselves, they simply provide the standards, and the companies themselves have to go through the testing process. This testing process is optional, no company is forced to go through it, but the ones who do are taking a step in the right direction!
In order to get the "stamp of approval" from AAFCO, companies must go through a series of trials. To sum it up, a company must test their food for approximately 8 weeks, on 8 dogs (6 dogs will do, but 8 is the ideal number.) Each dog must have blood tests (among other things) preformed before the feeding trial begins and again halfway through, and then one final test at the end of the 8 weeks. If the tests come back with the proper results, then the company can then claim they are AAFCO certified. There is a lot more to it then that, but that would be quite a bit of typing! So feel free to further look into the certification process, the more knowledge the better!
So what it comes down to, is that some raw food companies decide to take the extra steps available to help steer them in the right direction, while others don't. It's not necessarily that all foods should have this certification, but they are a step in the right direction, and they do show that they company cares about what they are feeding our pets. There are discrepancies when it comes to which way is right and which is wrong, and its up to us as owners (with the help of a veterinarian of course) to decide what is suitable for our own dogs.
Make sure to stay tuned for the next article on raw food!