This fact sheet is an informative guide to Labelling of pet foods. You can also read media vet Pete Wedderburn's informative blog on the subject of labelling here.
Some Advice on Labelling Standards
All information given on a pet food label must be truthful and not misleading about the nature and quality of the product.
The law requires a statutory statement to be put on every label or package which must contain certain obligatory declarations.
Direction & Description
These must state: -
• whether the product is complete or complementary;
• the species for which the product is intended;
• directions for use/feeding instructions.
The percentage of the following must be listed:
• % of crude proteins
• % of crude oils & fats
• % of crude fibre
• % of moisture in the product when it exceeds14%
• % of crude ash (ash represents the mineral content of the food and is determined chemically by the burning of the product. % of ash is labelled as one of the following terms 'crude ash', 'incinerated residue' or 'inorganic matter').
The ingredients must be listed in descending order by weight. They can be indicated using category names, which are laid down by the Regulations, such as 'meat and animal derivatives', 'cereals', 'derivatives of vegetable origin'. Alternatively ingredients can be listed by their own individual names. When an ingredient is used that does not fall into any of the prescribed categories, its individual name must be listed. In all other circumstances, mixing individual names and category names in the ingredients list is not permitted. If particular attention is drawn to a specific ingredient (eg With Chicken), the percentage of that ingredient component must also be listed.
If preservatives, antioxidants or colourants have been added to the product their presence may be declared on the label. If a pet owner has any queries regarding additives, they should contact the individual manufacturer responsible, quoting the batch number.
If Vitamins A & D are added to the product, their presence and level has to be declared. The added quantity should be declared under 'additives'. Manufacturers may also include the total amount guaranteed at the end of shelf life (which also factors in the naturally present quantity) under 'analytical constituents'. The Regulations also lay down the units which must be used to declare the level.
'Best Before' Date
This date indicates the minimum storage life of the product. The month and year must be shown.
This is not a legal requirement but allows for information about sales, stocks, etc.
A batch number or the date of manufacture must be given to facilitate traceability of the product. This may be given either in the statutory statement or elsewhere on the package/label/container, in which case the statutory statement shall indicate where it can be found.
The Net Weight must be given.
Name and Address
This is the name and address of the company responsible for the products. It may be a manufacturer, packer, importer, seller or distributor.