Do pet food manufacturers have to name allergens?
We are a nation of pet lovers, and that love continues to grow and spread as more and more people take on a pet in their life. Our animals are part of the family, and their health and wellbeing are extremely important. Like humans, animals can have allergies to certain things and have food sensitivities which need to be carefully monitored.
The Food Standards Agency are responsible for all legislation regarding pet food in the UK including manufacturing and labelling. So, in this article we’ll be exploring whether pet food manufacturers are required to name possible allergens on their products. As well as the key details they definitely have to include in their labelling.
What is required on pet food labels?
Like with human food products, the pet food manufacturing industry is also required to declare all the ingredients that are used in the making of the food. When doing so, they have the option to break down the ingredients by category. Such as meat and animal derivatives or oils and fats. The advantage in doing this is it offers more flexibility for labelling ingredients. Also it helps them to better manage changes in the raw materials supply when fluctuations occur. Manufacturers are allowed to detail the presence or absence of a specific ingredients and add extra information for purchasers looking for a specialist type of food.
Extra information often includes in-depth declarations of protein or fibre contents or the name and address of the manufacturer. The important thing to note about the extra information is it must adhere to safeguards. This means any claims being made have to be proven to be true, it can’t mislead consumers or make medicinal claims. As a result, product labels should state the exact ingredients during the pet food engineering process, in a clear and factual way.
Are allergens required on pet food labels?
Taking this into account, in terms of legality when buying pet food for your animal, its label should have:
- The name and description of the product
- A clear list of ingredients
- Information about nutrient levels
- Best before date and batch code
- Manufacturer or distributor name and contact information
- Feeding instructions
- Weight and/or quantity
As you can see, there’s no allergen information in this list. So, it isn’t necessarily a legal requirement for manufacturers to include it. However, some brands who focus on specialist types of food for sensitive animals sometimes do include this type of detail. By doing so they can easily reach an audience of owners with pets that have allergies or food sensitivities and set themselves apart from competitors. For example, a lot of brands offer a grain free option for pets that are allergic or intolerant to wheat and grain. Read on for more information about each pet food label feature…
A key part of the product description is whether the food is complete feed or complimentary feed. Complete food means that the product, when fed as directed, will provide the pet with all the nutrients they need in a day. Whereas complementary refers to food that offers part of the nutrients a pet needs and should be mixed with another food.
Alternatively, the term complementary food can be used to describe treats or snacks for your pet such as chews for oral care. A “pet food only” label must be used on any raw pet food products. There should also be a distinction between species of pet the food is for and age if applicable. For example puppy or senior dog food.
Additives that have a legal maximum have to be clearly displayed on the pet food labels with only authorised additives for relevant species being allowed. Labels must be specific about the vitamins/trace elements, functional groups, and enzyme/micro-organisms if they are used. The exact rules surrounding additives in pet food labelling can be quite complex. Especially as additives are currently undergoing a reauthorisation process with the European Commission.
Instructions for feeding and proper use
It’s important for dry pet food in particular that storage conditions are displayed on the label. This is because climatic conditions could impact the quality of the product. With consideration being needed for how to store the food once it has been opened. Even though it’s obvious, labels have to say that fresh water has to be available at all times when feeding dry dog food. Additionally, it should state the quantity of food that should be provided to the pet in a day. How much a pet should be fed often comes down to the age, size, and weight of the animal as well as its lifestyle.
Batch code and best before date
The batch number can be fully numeric or contain letters. It also could include the date or time of manufacture, the line number, shift number, or any other identifying information that enables traceability if needed. Batch and approval numbers of the manufacturer are required to be printed somewhere on the packet. Along with the address of the business.
It doesn’t have to be on the label necessarily. As long as there is direction as to where it can be found. For example, ‘see bottom of packet for batch number’. The best before date is important to include as it tells the consumer when the food will be freshest and at its “best”. Even though it’s not likely to be harmful if it is consumed after this date. Owners have a clear understanding of when the nutrients are guaranteed until.
Overall, despite allergens not being required to be named by pet food manufacturers on their products. There are several other pieces of information that are legally required to be declared on the label. So, if you’re in the pet food manufacturing industry, these are factors you should be aware of. As experienced factory consultants, the team at FESS have the knowledge and skills to help businesses in food manufacturing to become more efficient and even save them a significant amount of money on their costs.
Book a free site survey with us today to see how your operations can be improved with our help, and don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.