A Place for Packaging Innovators

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.

justfoodfordogs.com
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.

WholeLifePet.com.TURKEY.jpg

Whole Life dog treats are doing our pets a service with their very high quality products.

Image Courtesy: WholeLife.com

There is a push towards fresh and local sourcing of quality pet food ingredients. Image Courtesy: wetnosesdogtreats.com

The quality of pet food ingredients is the question, with a push towards fresh and local sourcing. Image Courtesy: wetnosesdogtreats.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.

Making the esteemed “Safer Foods For Your Pet” list at Foodbabe.com is Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food, getting high marks for the quality of its ingredients. Image Courtesy: evangersdogfood.com

Making the esteemed “Safer Foods For Your Pet” list at Foodbabe.com is Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food, getting high marks for the quality of its ingredients. Image Courtesy: evangersdogfood.com

 

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.

Taste of the Wild Dog and Cat Food has received consistently high ratings for pet food ingredients quality. Image Courtesy: tasteofthewildpetfood.com

Taste of the Wild Dog and Cat Food has received consistently high ratings for pet food ingredients quality. Image Courtesy: tasteofthewildpetfood.com

 

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:

 

AUTHOR: Dan Meyers