As our interest in optimal nutrition for our pets increases, a frequently asked question is: “How can I be sure of the quality of ingredients in my pet’s food?”
It is generally accepted that the quality of ingredients in popular pet foods varies significantly between brands. There is an even wider distinction between dry (kibble) products and natural (raw) choices.
The way ingredients are processed gives some indication of the quality of these ingredients.
How Rendering Food Makes It Less Like Food
Rendering is a common process in the manufacture of dry and canned foods for companion animals. This process takes what would otherwise be considered (in some circumstances) inedible by-products – feathers, feet, entrails and digesta – and through a process of boiling down, produces a substance known as ‘meat meals’.
Not only are these meals lacking essential nutrients (leading to synthetic supplementation), they have been known to contain input ingredients that should be of real concern for pet owners.
Which Pet Foods Were Recently Recalled
A recent recall in the USA was prompted by the deaths of pets fed processed pet food. It was identified that the supplier of “beef” had substituted other animal species, some of which were allegedly euthanized animals that still contained traces of toxic chemicals that survived the rendering process.
How Advertising Is Used To Create A ‘Food Illusion’
Advertising is another means of consumer deception in the pet food space. A leading dry food company advertising a “premium” range of dog food neglected to inform customers that despite the marketing spin and claims of ultimate nutrition, the product provided only 5% actual meat while containing a staggering 46% grain-based carbohydrates.
It is difficult to reconcile how a manufacturer can, in good conscience, promote a product with questionable ingredients and/or limited nutritional value as suitable nutrition for our family pets.
Why ‘Natural’ Still Isn’t Clear
However, not all ‘natural’ pet food options are committed to improved quality or ingredient transparency. A number of established and new entrants in the natural or ‘raw’ pet food segment promote the use of ingredients “sourced from human grade facilities” or similar claims. This is where consumers are being misled as to the quality of these products.
From a Human Grade Facility is NOT the same as Human Grade Ingredients
The same by-products and waste products used for rendered dry and canned pet foods could claim to come from “human grade facilities” because ALL primary processing plants are designed to deliver human grade meat products, making this claim worthless.
The only way to ensure your pet’s food contains the best selection of high quality ingredients is to look for a guarantee of 100% human grade ingredients from a manufacturer who is willing, able and happy to qualify this claim when asked by consumers.
Look For Whats Actually Written On The Label
Label integrity is the key to consumer trust and confidence. Make a point of reading the ingredient list, taking note of non-food items or additives, ingredients followed by numbers (synthetic supplements), qualifiers such as “may contain” or a lack of information regarding the volume of each ingredient that can hide the true composition of a pet food product.
If your pet food manufacturer is not willing to discuss ingredient integrity with you as a consumer, you need to ask yourself why. After all, they claim to be “all about the health and wellbeing of our pets”, so they should be happy to prove it..!!
Remember, your pet is relying on you for their nutritional requirements. Our advice – choose wisely.