Reading Labels:Calorie and Fat Terms

Food For Thought™ Technical Bulletin No. 123R

Innovative Research in Dog and Cat Nutrition™

What is the difference between light and reduced calorie pet foods?

Pet food products described as light, lite or low calorie must meet specific calorie levels set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), while pet foods named less or reduced calorie must show a percent reduction in calories as compared to a product in the same moisture-content category. The following table shows the guidelines as set by AAFCO for both dog and cat foods for determining whether a product can use the term light.

Food Texture Moisture Content Dog Foods Maximum kcal ME/kg Cat Foods Maximum kcalME/kg
Dry less than 20% moisture 3100 3250
Semi–Moist between 20 and 64% moisture 2500 2650
Canned 65% or more moisture 900 950
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What is the difference between lean and reduced fat pet foods?

Like light versus reduced calorie foods, lean or low fat pet food products must meet specific fat levels set by AAFCO, and less fat or reduced fat pet food products need to show a percent reduction in fat as compared to a product in the same moisture category. AAFCO guidelines for dog and cat food products with lean, low fat or similar words are shown in the following table.

Food Texture Moisture Content Dog Foods Maximum % Crude Fat Cat Foods Maximum % Crude Fat
Dry less than 20% moisture 9 10
Semi–Moist between 20 and 64% moisture 7 8
Canned 65% or more moisture 4 5
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Application

  • The Iams Company maintains nutritional quality in it's products for overweight dogs and cats by controlling the fat level rather than diluting the food with indigestible material.
  • Understanding the AAFCO definitions for terms such as light, reduced calorie, lean, and reduced fat can help customers better choose a pet food based on their own pet's weight loss or weight maintenance needs.
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