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Owners urged to pay attention to pet food labels

The Associated Press

In this Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, photo, Amy Eagle, of Center Valley, Pa., shops for dog food in Quakertown, Pa. Upstart pet food maker Freshpet uses fresh meat, poultry and vegetables in a pricey, preservative-free product that requires refrigeration. Sales exceed $100 million. Fido and Fluffy don’t know it, but their owners want them to eat better _ and they’re forking over big bucks to make it happen. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Pet food labeling is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Many states have also adopted labeling standards published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials. Consumers should pay close attention to labels when buying food for their dogs and cats:

— Products labeled as "premium," ''super premium" or "holistic" are not required to contain different or higher-quality ingredients. They are marketing terms.

— Products labeled "natural" by and large may not contain artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.

— Products labeled "organic" must follow strict U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines for human organic food.

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Sources: FDA, AAFCO