Feeding Ring Dings and Krispy Kremes

Feeding Ring Dings and Krispy Kremes

ABSTRACT: Americans own more than 130 million cats and dogs and spend over $12 billion per year on commercial pet foods. The commercial pet food industry faces minimal substantive regulation, despite navigating several layers of regulation from various groups including the FDA, the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), and state regulators. The FDA entrusts AAFCO to issue regulations governing ingredients, feeding trials, labels and nutritional claims. But AAFCO's rules fall short of ensuring that America's pets receive adequate nutrition, or even foods that won't cause chronic digestive, skin, eye, and coat problems.
 
The influence by the pet food industry over AAFCO manifests itself through AAFCO's irrational regulations, including ingredient definitions which effectively prohibit organic chickens and vegetables, while blindly permitting thousands of euthanized cats and dogs to make their way into pet foods through the unsupervised rendering industry. Trusting, but uneducated, consumers purchase these commercial pet foods under the assumption that the FDA or some other regulatory body has ensured that the foods contain "balanced" meals, and "complete" nutrition. These consumers naively believe veterinarians that endorse and sell pet foods from their offices while neglecting to mention that these "pet doctors" are often "on the take" and can earn up to 20% of their total income from such sales. This paper will examine the ways in which inadequate regulation results in confused consumers and sick, malnourished pets. Ultimately this paper seeks to reveal that multiple parties, including consumers themselves, share the blame for the current muddled state of regulation.
 
This is not a report for the faint of heart. It originally appeared at Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard (DASH).
 
The entire paper is entitled "Deconstructing the Regulatory Façade: Why Confused Consumers Feed their Pets Ring Dings® and Krispy Kremes.®"
 
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