All claims are required to be supported by sound scientific or empirical evidence. Claims for specific nutrients trigger the need to guarantee whichever nutrients are mentioned in the claim.
Romance Copy / Marketing Claims
Romance copy/Marketing claims are the parts of labeling that are not mandated by regulations. They are the catchy phrases or product attributes or pictures that sell the product to the consumer. The rules apply to all graphics and text in all labeling about the product. There are two basic rules. First, claims must be truthful and not misleading to the consumer. Second, the products being sold are foods which cannot have any drug claims made about them. AAFCO has no steps for a company to receive approval to make claims or statements on a feed or pet food label. It is the job of the state feed control official to decide if a label is acceptable under their state’s feed law. It can be burdensome to contact 50 different states. Your other option is to contact a consultant who specializes in pet food regulatory compliance who can assist you in your product labeling.
Truthful and Not Misleading
All claims made for the product must be truthful and must not be misleading to the consumer. Individual ingredients must not be overemphasized to the exclusion of other ingredients. For example, if there is only a small amount of an ingredient, then the name of the ingredient should not be in the largest type on the label. Another example is that the graphics (pictures) on the label must represent what is actually in the product. A picture of apples on a package without any apples in the product would be misleading.
Pet food is food and the labeling must reflect that. Claims made related to diseases or abnormal conditions are DRUG claims and are not allowed on food. Claims can be either explicit (those actually naming a disease) or they can be implied (those that don’t actually say the name of an abnormal condition, but say that they improve a condition.) Certain pet food related claims should undergo a review by FDA-CVM prior to marketing. These include urinary tract health claims and hairball claims. FDA has provided guidance on the criteria that is looked at in regards to these types of drug claims. The presence of drug claims can result in rejection of registration, Stop Sale letters and warning letters. Such claims can even result in you being required to remove your product from the marketplace.