In browsing supermarket shelves and talking with customers, we’re always shocked at the gray areas of food guidelines that can mislead pet dietary planning. While the FDA regulates dog food, the specific labeling guidelines can allow many companies to either intentionally or accidentally create confusion amongst consumers. We have gathered some information that we think will help you read and question the ingredients.
American made doesn’t mean your ingredients are from America.
Even if a product is made in America, it doesn’t mean the ingredients came from American farms. Oftentimes, ingredients will be shipped from China, New Zealand or other countries and processed here. You must read the label on the product to see where the ingredients were sourced and manufactured, as they must list the country of origin.
For example, human-grade meats are technically consumable but are often the leftover parts of animals that are not served to humans. Our human-grade ingredients are sourced from SP Provisions, a United States meat company that provides us with all-natural meats sourced primarily in the Northwest and animals raised without antibiotics and hormones.
Most manufacturers also source synthetic supplements from other countries but are able to put them in ‘American Made’ products.
Natural and organic are not the same.
Currently, AAFCO defines natural as “a feed or feed ingredient derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subject to physical processing... but not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic except in amounts as might occur in good manufacturing practices.”
While pet products can be deemed organic under the National Organic Program’s standards, AAFCO does not currently have standards for organic pet food. Most companies will follow these guidelines for the standards but it is not a requirement.
Some companies get their meat from renderers
The USDA only approves meat for pet food from animals that are healthy enough to walk on their own. However, meat from animals that are too ill to walk can be sold to renderers, who then sell that meat to pet food companies. This could mean that your pet is eating meat from over-exhausted or ill animals. Unfortunately, this is all legal. A reputable pet food company should never buy from renderers, but sadly this is the truth.
Reading the labels of your dog’s food is one of the ways you can tell if they’re getting rendered meat. Be wary of “by-product, meal, tallow, animal fat, and grease,” usually signs of rendered meat.
Always do careful research on the product you’re interested in and consult your vet. In the meantime, Portland Pet Food Company can guarantee that your pets are getting human-grade meat and produce, never from renderings, with additives or fillers.