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Things to think about when purchasing food products for your feathered friend:

Purchasing by weight or volume?

Lately I've seen some retailers sell their foods by volume rather than weight. This type of measurement may border on illegal measurement according to the FDA and the tactic is questionable at best. (1) If a manufacturer uses dry weight measure, that is by volume such as “peck, quart or pint” and states for example there are 1, 2, 3 or 4 cups in the package and there is space leftover the manufacturer is operating on a slippery slope. * Personally I think it's confusing for the customer.

How does one go about comparing weight and volume even if the packages are identical? You really can't unless the retailer states both weight and volume on the package. Even then if the products from one producer to another are not similar it's still confusing.

Freeze-dried foods have 98% of their water removed. This reduces the food’s weight by about 90%. Dehydrated foods have 95% of their water removed for vegetables and 80% for fruits.

Obviously we can see that a typical 6"x9" package of freeze-dried food will contain less in weight than dehydrated food. But the same in volume. However if you were to rehydrate the same volume of a 6x9 package the freeze-dried package would give you 3%, on average more food if you were rehydrating vegetables. On the other hand, since dehydrated food shrinks more than freeze-dried food during each of the respective processes you might end up with more volume of the dehydrated food once it is rehydrated. In reality there is not that much difference in quantity overall.

Both dehydrated and freeze-dried offer similar nutrient retention when low, gentle dehydration is used in dehydrating foods (115 degrees or less). In other words, the only loss is moisture which can be replaced by simply rehydrating the food. If it’s long-term preservation you’re looking for, properly freeze-dried food can potentially be stored 40 years or longer. Properly dehydrated food can be stored longer than a year, maybe 2 years. Are we expecting an apocalypse?

Both freeze-dried and dehydrated food is considered “raw” by definition, but not fresh.

Fresh food is defined as such only because it contains moisture. Actually freeze-dried and dehydrated food contains dense nutrition because the moisture has been removed. On the other hand some amount of moisture in food is actually good for the digestive tract of birds. So is Omega 3s. Both moisture and Omega 3s lubricate the digestive tract helping with the total absorption of all nutrients.

Freeze-dried food tastes good. However, dehydrated food smells really, really great! And tastes good too. Both dehydrated food and freeze-dried food stores for a long time; fresh food does not. I would recommend a formulated, 3rd party lab-tested dehydrated food that contains Omega 3s, some freeze-dried food, rehydrate with Fiji or Evian water and you have a well-rounded diet for your feathered friend.

If the manufacture makes any nutritional claims has the food been 3rd party laboratory tested?

Does the food have any kind of nutritional profile panel, even if it is an estimated panel?

Finally, let’s not forget to ask each pet food retailer if they are licensed within the state they are producing and selling their pet food. Most U.S. states require all pet food manufacturers to be licensed to produce and sell pet food. The manufacturer must hold a current license to produce pet food if they, themselves manufacture the food they sell and they must hold a state and city sales tax license if they sell the pet food to anyone anywhere including Internet sales. They must also collect sales tax for any sales they make within their own state even for Internet sales.

* Regulations for labeling food products, including requirements for net quantity of content statement, can be found in Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 101. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also published an Industry Guidance on food labeling that was updated in April 2008.

©July 14, 2018 Machelle Pacion – All Rights Reserved


There are no regulations on the minimum weight of a food package. However, packaged food is considered misbranded unless its label bears an accurate statement of the quantity of the contents in terms of weight, measure, or numerical count. In addition, FDA issued a regulation on food package size in relation to net contents or "slack-fill," which became effective on January 5, 1994. "Slack-fill" is defined as the difference between the actual capacity of a container and the volume of product contained therein, and "nonfunctional slack-fill" is defined as the empty space in a package that is filled to substantially less than its capacity. FDA prohibits nonfunctional slack-fill except under certain conditions. One of these is when a manufacturer cannot increase the level of fill or reduce the size of the package (e.g., where a minimum package size is necessary to accommodate required food labeling, discourage pilfering, facilitate handling, or accommodate tamper-resistant devices).

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