Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations

CPG Sec. 690.400 Water and Gravy in Pet Food


Most commercial pet foods contain a large percentage of water as an added ingredient. Manufacturers argue that, due to the nature and seasonal availability of the type of ingredients used for pet foods the relative position of added water in the ingredient listing will vary widely thus making the use of one label impossible. Also, they state that added water is required for proper processing. A notice in the Federal Register (41 FR 15731, April 14, 1976) reaffirmed the Agency's position regarding the listing of water in the ingredient statement in descending order of predominance by weight. However, this notice allows it to be qualified (in the proper position in the listing) by "sufficient for processing" or some such similar statement.

In addition, a number of manufacturers have adopted the practice of declaring "gravy" as an ingredient of the pet food in a variety of ways. Some contend that the listing of gravy in the order of descending predominance, followed by a parenthetical listing of its components, conforms to the requirements of the regulations (21 CFRa) in that "gravy" consists of the common or usual name of an ingredient. However, the industry has admitted, in many cases, that the "gravy" is not even formulated as a separate ingredient. Review of cookbooks and other references shows no common definition or formula for generic terms such as gravy, sauce, or broth.


Water added to a pet food and not listed in the ingredient statement in decreasing order of predominance is in violation of 21 CFRb. As such, the product is misbranded under Section 403(a). When the qualifier, "sufficient for processing" or some such similar statement is used, the added water must be listed in its proper order and must indeed be necessary for the complete processing of the product. Such terms as gravy, broth, or sauce used in the listing of ingredients on pet food labels are not established common or usual names as covered by 21 CFRa. These terms may serve to mask the true relative amount of added water and avert the intent of the Act and regulations. Products so labeled are misbranded within the meaning of Section 403(i).

Pet foods in which added water has not been declared or added water is not listed in proper order (21 CFRc) may be deemed adulterated within the meaning of Section 402(b).

a 21 CFR 501.4(b)(2)(i)
b 21 CFR 501.4(a)
c 21 CFR 501.4

Issued: 10/1/80

Page Last Updated: 03/20/2015
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