Does your dog or cat have a say in what you buy for their dinner? Is your pet able to lodge a complaint (or praise) on what they eat each night? Unless you’ve developed some kind of leap in communication with your furry friend, the answers to the above questions are very likely both “no.” Sure you may see a variance in the speed in which your cat attacks her food dish, but in the end, you have little in the way of tools to measure not only your pets’ true satisfaction with his or her meal, but also the quality and even safety of the meals’ pet food components. Pet food ingredient safety is a hot topic and is serving an increasingly stronger role in consumer purchase decisions.
Feed Grade vs. Human Grade
There is a vast quality and safety difference between what are classified as “Feed Grade” and “Human Grade” pet food ingredients. Unfortunately, several different pet food brands do employ several feed grade ingredients. The push and pull between these two ingredient classifications, and what can or should be allowed in pet food, is an ongoing balancing act within the industry.
Image Source: justfoodfordogs.com
All Ingredients Must Be Scrutinized
When looking at the pet food industry and, specifically, the sourcing of pet food ingredients, one key element rises to the surface…the ‘Made in the USA’ packaging declaration. Such a claim by any pet food or pet treat manufacturer actually requires that it be made with (nearly) 100% US-sourced ingredients. Unfortunately, and we are not naming names, a high number of pet foods that make this claim are actually sourcing all or a large portion of their ingredients from outside the US.
Whole Life dog treats are doing our pets a service with their very high quality products.
Image Courtesy: WholeLife.com
Many consumers support US made products, and it is easy to see that a claim of ‘Made in the USA’ would have a firmly positive influence on consumer buying behavior. This has especially been the case since the 2007 pet food recall that was in reaction to thousands of pets being killed due by consuming imported, contaminated pet treats from China. Naturally, an “all U.S. ingredients” message has thereafter been firmly linked to greater sales. More and more brands are using the ‘Made in the USA’ claim, with some even putting American flags on their packaging. However, to make this claim, some very strict AAFCO guidelines must be met.
The AAFCO ‘Made in the USA’ Pet Food Guidelines
Found very easily on the AAFCO website, the established regulations for a ‘Made in the USA’ claim state:
“all or virtually all means” that all significant parts and processing that go into the product must be of US origin. That is, the product should contain no – or negligible – foreign content. So just putting together ingredients inside the US is not enough. Additionally, just getting ingredients from a broker within the US is not enough. If ingredients are imported, then it is very difficult to justify the use of the phrase “Made in the USA.”
If the AAFCO regulations were more strictly enforced, a consumer could purchase pet food products with the confidence that all ingredients are indeed sourced from the United States. Unfortunately, this regulation has (thus far) not been enforced well enough.
You Might Be Asking Some Questions?
By now, if you have a pet, you may be asking the question, “What’s in the food I am buying?” Thankfully, there are several review sites targeting in on this very subject and on how to make “safe” selections for your pet(s).
In the end, whether a pet food ingredient comes from within the U.S., or beyond its shores, all of its ingredients should be subject to the strictest of pet food safety standards.
Try these links below to explore this topic further:
- The Truth About Pet Food
- iHeart Dogs 2015 List of Most Trusted Pet Foods
- Foodbabe’s Review of the Best and Worst Pet Foods
- Reviews.com’s Best Dog Food List