Frequently asked questions

How is pet food regulated in South Africa?


In South Africa pet food is regulated by Act 36 at the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD). Regulations and guidelines are set and amended from time to time to reflect international standards. Each complete pet food must be registered with this governmental department. The Act 36 Technical Advisor, in addition to analysing the pet food formulation, also ensures that it meets the minimum nutritional requirements of the animal. Claims need to be supported by the actual nutrients in the formula, so as not to mislead the public. Treats that do not make nutritional claims do not, at this time, need to be registered.




What should I look for on a pet food label?


Demands for label transparency and formulations that follow human health trends are increasing and knowing where to look on a label can also confirm the brand's adherence to the legal requirements of registration with Act 36 at the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) – proof that the food meets the nutritional requirements of the pet.

  • You should confirm adherence to the law by locating the products "V number" followed by "Act 36 of 1947" printed on the packaging – this serves as proof that the formulation meets the South African regulation in terms of minimum and maximum quantities of each nutrient.

  • The front of pet food packaging will typically include the brand, product-specific information, weight and the product's strongest claims and should specify the life stage, lifestyle or breed that the food is intended for. In short, it should detail what the product is and detail the strengths of the product (offering further substantiation on the back).

  • The back of the packaging must include 3 distinct bodies of information, namely:

    • The guaranteed analysis

      • This is what the food breaks down to, from a nutrient perspective. The top 5 nutrients, which all foods must include, are protein, moisture, fat (for energy), fibre and ash. Brands differ in the quality of the ingredients that they choose to use and therefore the resultant nutrients that are digested.

    • Ingredients list

      • This is the list of ingredients that the manufacturer puts into the food to make up the guaranteed analysis. Ingredients must be listed in descending order and can be grouped or listed individually.

    • Feeding guidelines

      • The amount of food that a pet requires each day is based on their weight, age and lifestyle. A guideline is supplied by the manufacturer to guide pet owners in meeting their pet's individual needs. On some international brands, one may even find mention of the food's energy value.

    • A final requirement is for the pet food to indicate a period within which the food is safe to consume. This can be done via a best before date or a manufacture date supplemented with an indication of the amount of time that the food is best before.




Can I feed my pet table scraps?


Although you might like to offer special treats to your pets, certain table scraps and human foods may cause stomach upsets or health problems for cats and dogs. There are various dangers associated with feeding pets table scraps, from obesity risks to the ingestion of harmful ingredients. Feeding a registered, commercially available pet food will cover the nutritional needs of your pet. But, if you feel the need to treat your pet, opt for treats made especially for pets. Be conscious of your pet’s overall dietary intake. The amount of food fed at mealtimes should be adjusted and reduced to compensate for the extra calories found in the treats.




Is it important to buy brands that are affiliated with the PFI?


Our recommendation is to buy brands that are members of the PFI as they have undergone additional checks in terms of ensuring compliance to the law before they are ratified as members. PFI members must also uphold the PFI’s code of conduct. While PFI membership is not mandatory, those brands that have chosen to join our association have also committed to uphold high standards of quality and safety, putting the wellbeing of the pet first. Choosing a PFI member brand is an additional check point in the purchase decision, to ensure that you are feeding the best food that you can afford.




How do I know if the food I am buying is part of the PFI?


The simplest way to know whether or not the food you are purchasing is part of the PFI is by checking the brand name against our membership database found on our website. Most of our members do display our logo on their packaging, but some are unable to incorporate it, so the website is the best place to check.




What should I do if I have concerns about a pet food brand?


You are more than welcome to send your concerns or queries to us via email at info@pfisa.co.za or via our contact page. We take consumer concerns very seriously and will interrogate and investigate the complaints, putting them forward to the relevant bodies that have jurisdiction over the matter for them to take action. The PFI itself does not have the jurisdiction or capacity to rule on legal matters but does offer a vehicle to raise concerns. Naturally, if the concern involves a member company and is indicative of a contravention of our code of conduct, action will be taken from a membership perspective. For us to address the problem correctly, we require the following information as it relates to the unsatisfactory product:

  • Full name of product, including flavor, size of bag etc.
  • Date of purchase
  • Store where product was purchased
  • Batch ID of product (photo would be useful)
  • Best before date / manufacture date of product (photo would be useful)
  • Photos, if available, of the issue noted
  • Photos, if available, of the product packaging, front and back, including a clear image of the guaranteed analysis
We urge consumers to make complaints directly with the pet food brand and/or manufacturer in question. Keeping samples of the food is encouraged as the manufacturer may require same for testing purposes.




Should I contact a manufacturer who isn't a member of the PFI and urge them to join?


Ideally, we would like to be representative of 100% of the pet food market. The work that the PFI does benefits the entire market and we do rely on membership funds to perform our functions. Naturally, an industry association performs better the more representative they are of the market. We would urge consumers to consider why their chosen brand of pet food may not wish to join the PFI, committing to the principles of upholding quality standards that ensure the nutritional wellbeing of household pets. The greatest push would certainly be from consumers urging their favourite brands to join, if they are not already members.