Guidelines for Tartar Control Claims

The AAFCO pet Food Committee supports and recommends the following guidelines as developed by the Center for Veterinary Medicine of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for dental health claims with respect to rawhides, biscuits, and other pet food products:

(1) Foods bearing claims to cleanse, freshen, or whiten teeth by virtue of their abrasive or mechanical action are not objectionable*.
(2) Foods bearing claims for plaque or tartar reduction or prevention, or control of breath odor may be misbranded. However, if these claims are made only with respect to the product’s abrasive action, enforcement would be a low priority. Thus, CVM is exercising discretion by not objecting to these types of claims at this time.
(3) Foods bearing expressed or implied drug claims to prevent or treat dental diseases (e.g., gingivitis, gum problems, tooth loss) are not permissible unless they are the subject of approved New Animal Drug Applications.
(4) Food ingredients that are not GRAS (generally recognized as safe) for the intended purpose of affecting the teeth or gums may be unapproved food additives or unapproved drugs, depending on the nature of the claim.
(5) Foods bearing claims for plaque or tartar reduction, preventions, or control of breath odor that achieve their effect, in part or in total, by means other than mechanical action must have an approved New Animal Drug Application or a letter of no objection from the FDA prior to being marketed.

*This means pet guardians have to read the label very carefully! If the reason for the claim is not disclosed on the label, the claim may be completely false! Most dry foods will claim that they help eliminate tartar through mere mechanics, when, in fact, they perpetuate it due to the ingredients.