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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

So what makes a dog food USDA organic?

You will probably hear a lot about our dogs in this blog. They are a huge part of our lives and I really do live and breathe all things Bergamasco. Instead of going into very long detail about this special breed, I will point you to the links where you can read more if you are interested. We live with four dogs. Lothario, Mezza, Anthea and Amira.  They are so many things to us and to the kids. To me, they are best friends, children, girlfriends, buddies, clowns and pieces of my soul. I am grateful for every moment I have with them.







Courtesy of The Dog Food Project

The following labeling requirements apply to the labels of organic products:
If a manufacturer wants to claim a product is "100% Organic", it must contain 100 percent organically produced ingredients, not counting added water and salt. As far as dry dog food is concerned, this is currently not possible, since as per AAFCO regulations vitamin and mineral supplements must be added, which can not be organically produced.
If a manufacturer wants to claim a product is "Organic", it must contain at least 95% organic ingredients, not counting added water or salt, and must identify the organic ingredients as "organic" in the ingredient list when other organic labeling is shown. To identify an ingredient as organically produced in the ingredient list, the word, "organic" in conjunction with the name of the ingredient may be used, or an asterisk or other reference mark which is defined below the ingredient statement.
Only products that fall into these two groups may display the "USDA Organic" seal, either in color or black and white.
If a manufacturer wants to claim a product is "Made With Organic Ingredients" or a similar statement, it must contain at least 70% organic ingredients, not counting added water or salt, and must identify the organic ingredients as "organic" in the ingredient list when other organic labeling is shown. To identify an ingredient as organically produced in the ingredient list, the word, "organic" in conjunction with the name of the ingredient may be used, or an asterisk or other reference mark which is defined below the ingredient statement. The product may display the seal(s) of the agent(s) certifying the included organic ingredients, but not the "USDA Organic" seal.
If a manufacturer wants to advertise the fact that product has some organic ingredients, it can include less than 70% total and they must be identified as "organic" in the ingredient list. The product may not display the seal(s) of the agent(s) certifying the included organic ingredients nor the "USDA Organic" seal.


We don't want our dogs ingesting pesticide residue or GMO ingredients just as we don't want to ingest them. Of the few brands of dog kibble out there that are certified organic, I have to say that none really appeal to me based on the ingredients and percentages. We have found a couple of wonderful meat markets here in CT that will make dog food on request. They use chicken or turkey, soft bones, cartilage, feet, organs and grind it into a meal that is then frozen. They can also add vegetables to the mix. If you feed raw or are interested in feeding raw, you can find complete meals in this way for half the cost of the some of the raw companies. Our dogs love it. Chicken feet can also be purchased from your butcher and although they are kind of gross to deal with, they are great snacks. I clip off the toe nails and clean them really well then freeze and give raw. 

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