Yorky puppy lying next to their food.

Dog Food Standards Comparison Australia

Written By Vedrana Nikolic | Canine Coach, B.A Ethnology & Anthropology, M.A Semiotics.
Edited & Fact Checked By Renae Soppe | B.A Journalism & Science. 
Last Updated: 18th January 2024

Choosing the best pet food is crucial for the health and well being of our furry friends. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to navigate through the various standards and regulations in the industry. 

Two prominent organisations that you’ll likely come across as an Aussie pet parent are the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and the Pet Food Industry Association of Australia (PFIAA). In this article, we'll explore the similarities, differences, and importance of AAFCO and PFIAA in ensuring the safety and quality of pet food.

What is AAFCO?

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), founded in 1909, is a voluntary membership association focused on regulating the sale and distribution of animal feeds, including pet food, in the United States (1).

Related: How Is Australia's Dog Food Industry Regulated?

The organisation develops and maintains the AAFCO Official Publication, which serves as a guide for defining pet food ingredients, nutritional adequacy, feeding trials, and labelling requirements. AAFCO's self-proclaimed primary objective is to protect pets and consumers by establishing minimum standards for pet food manufacturers to follow.

It is important to note that the AAFCO does not test or regulate pet foods in the US. AAFCO established the standards and model regulations. It is up to the individual states in the US to choose whether to adopt and enforce these regulations - which they often do.

Related: How To Choose The Right Dog Food?

Key Aspects of AAFCO Standards:

  • Ingredient Definitions: AAFCO provides standardised definitions for ingredients, ensuring consistent labelling across different pet food products. This helps consumers understand the contents of the food and make informed choices.
  • Nutritional Adequacy: AAFCO sets guidelines for determining the nutritional adequacy of pet foods through laboratory tests and feeding trials or by formulating diets to meet specific nutrient profiles. This ensures that pets receive a complete and balanced diet.
  • Labelling Requirements: AAFCO establishes labelling regulations that pet food manufacturers must adhere to. These regulations include listing ingredients in descending order by weight, providing guaranteed analysis, and using appropriate nutritional claims.

When you see the AAFCO statement on a dog food package, this refers to the nutritional guideline which establishes the minimum quantity of essential nutrients for each life stage in dog food.

What Is PFIAA?

The Pet Food Industry Association of Australia (PFIAA) is an organisation established in 1972, representing the pet food manufacturing industry in Australia (2). It plays a significant role in promoting the safety, quality, and integrity of pet food products in the country. PFIAA collaborates with government agencies, industry stakeholders, and researchers to establish and uphold industry standards.

The main areas of engagement of the PFIAA include:

  • Quality and Safety: PFIAA places a strong emphasis on ensuring the quality and safety of pet food. It encourages its members to adhere to high standards regarding manufacturing practices, labelling, and nutrition.
  • Regulatory Engagement: PFIAA actively engages with government agencies and regulatory bodies to provide input on policy development and promote the interests of its members. It strives to maintain open lines of communication and collaboration between the industry and regulators.
  • Consumer Education: PFIAA also strives to be a resource for pet parents in Australia for all information regarding pet food as well as responsible pet ownership.

PFIAA encourages its members to adhere to the Australian Standard for Manufacturing and marketing of pet food (AS5812-2017) and receive third-party certification. However, it’s important to remember that this is a voluntary practice in Australia. It is not a requirement in order to get dog food on the market and it is not enforced or checked in any way.


While AAFCO focuses on pet food standards in the United States, PFIAA is focused on the industry in Australia. Both organisations share a common objective of ensuring the safety and quality of pet food.

The AAFCO and the PFIAA are similar in that both organisations are voluntary, which also means that joining the respective organisations and enforcing the standards is not a requirement. However, in the USA there are other mechanisms that enforce pet food standards (state laws and the FDA (3), while in Australia there is no such thing. Therefore, adhering to the standard SA5812 is optional for pet food manufacturers. However, the PFIAA does provide an accreditation system for its members who want to demonstrate their adherence to the standard by means of third party independent audits.

Both the AAFCO guidelines and the Australian standard AS5812, endorsed by the PFIAA, deal with all the aspects of the pet food lifecycle, from manufacturing to nutrition, to labelling and marketing. When it comes to nutritional standards (which is what the AAFCO is mostly known for (4), the Australian standard actually asks the manufacturers to adhere to those provided by the AAFCO (or alternatively the FEIDAF nutritional guidelines).

My Final Say

In short, both AAFCO and PFIAA play important roles in shaping the pet food industry and safeguarding the well being of our beloved pets.

AAFCO sets regulatory standards that ensure pet foods meet minimum requirements, although it does not enforce them. The PFIAA is an industry organisation that strives to implement similar standards in Australia.

However, for the time being, the government does not impose those regulations and participation is voluntary.


  1. AAFCO Website. Accessed June 16, 2023. https://www.aafco.org/
  2. PFIAA Website. Accessed June 16, 2023. https://pfiaa.com.au/
  3. Postins, L. July 29, 2022. “What Is AAFCO”. Dogs Naturally. Retrieved June 15, 2023. https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/what-is-aafco/
  4. LaMon, V. December 28, 2020. “What Is AAFCO and What Does It Do?”. PetMD. Retrieved June 15, 2023. https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/What-Is-AAFCO-and-What-Does-It-Do

Vedrana Nikolic

Vedrana Nikolić is Gentle Dog Trainers Canine Coach, Professional Writer, Anthropologist & dog lover.

With a Masters Degree in Semiotics & Bachelors Degree in Anthropology, studying the communication between animals and humans, Vedrana is able to use her expertise to analyse and review dog products and write informative posts on canine behaviour and training.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}