Pet Food

Definition: refers to any food prepared for animal pets.

Food Safety: The basic principles of food safety apply to pet food as well.  The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) requires that all animal foods, like human foods, be safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled (FDA, 2011). In addition, canned pet foods must be processed in conformance with the low acid canned food regulations to ensure the pet food is free of viable microorganisms, see Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 113 (21 CFR 113).  For more information about pet foods and marketing a pet food, see FDA’s Regulation of Pet Food and Information on Marketing a Pet Food Product.

Distribution Method (Expand All | Collapse All)

You are selling your product at a farmers’ market, CSA, roadside stand, other direct to consumer outlet, or to a retail outlet


Licensing: In Colorado, the Colorado Feed Law (§35-60 CRS) requires that anyone distributing animal feeds must first register with the department and submit distribution reports.  Certain products, such as rawhide chews, bones, and unaltered, whole unmixed grains and seeds are exempt as long as they are not labeled with nutritional claims.  If you have any questions about registration requirements or product labeling, please contact the Colorado Feed Inspection Program.

Labeling: The current regulations require proper identification of the product, net quantity statement, name and place of business of the guarantor, feeding directions, nutritional adequacy statement, and proper listing of all the ingredients in the product in order from most to least, based on weight (FDA Labeling of Pet Food).

If you are selling pre-packaged pet food with nutritional claims the label must include the following:

  • Product name: The product name is the first part of the label noticed by the consumer, and can be a key factor in the consumer’s decision to buy the product. For that reason, manufacturers often use fanciful names or other techniques to emphasize a particular aspect. Many product names incorporate the name of an ingredient to highlight its presence in the product.  The use of an ingredient name within a product name is regulated by the Colorado feed regulations, and the amount of the ingredient within the product determines the format of how the ingredient may be used within the name of the product.
  • Net quantity statement: The net quantity statement tells you what you’re paying for. It is important to check the quantity statement when comparing products.
  • Guarantor’s name and address: This statement identifies the party responsible for the quality and safety of the product and its location. A consumer who has a question or complaint about a product should not hesitate to contact the guarantor. Not all labels include a street address along with the city, state, and zip code, but by law, it should be listed in either a city directory or a telephone directory.
  • Ingredient list: As mentioned above, ingredients are required to be listed in their proper order of predominance by weight. The weights of ingredients are determined as they are added in the formulation, with their inherent water content. This latter fact is important when evaluating relative quantity claims, especially when ingredients of different moisture contents are compared.
  • Guaranteed analysis: At minimum, a pet food label must state guarantees for minimum percentages of crude protein and crude fat, and maximum percentages of crude fiber and moisture. The “crude” term refers to the specific method of testing the product, not to the quality of the nutrient itself.
  • Nutritional adequacy statement: A “complete and balanced” pet food must be substantiated for nutritional adequacy. Products not meant for use as a complete diet or products that have not been substantiated for use as a complete and balanced diet should be labeled with the statement “For supplemental feeding” Products that are clearly labeled as a treat do not require a nutritional adequacy statement.
  • Feeding directions: Feeding directions instruct the consumer on how much product should be offered the animal.  Products clearly labeled as a treat are not required to have feeding directions unless they are also labeled as complete and balanced.

Sales Tax Liability: If you are selling direct to your consumer consult the retail tax section and if you are selling to a retail store consult the wholesale tax section of the general sales tax information.

Weights and Measures: If you are selling your product by weight, you must follow the weights regulations set forth by the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

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