The biggest excuse some pet food manufacturers use to not disclose the true quality of meat ingredients in pet food is “there is no definition for human grade.” Ah, but there is a clear definition of human grade even if some pet food manufacturers don’t want to tell you about it. USDA Inspected and Approved.
This is one of my many pet food peeves. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has no definition of human grade ingredients, but the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) does (inspected and approved). What makes this so frustrating is that members of AAFCO are state representatives of Department of Agriculture. You’d think that since AAFCO representatives are a part of the Department of Agriculture team, they would accept the same definition of human grade as their federal organization…you might think that, but it isn’t what happens.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is the mother-ship of all things meat and vegetable (in the U.S.). It is federal Department of Agriculture employees that pass or fail meats – USDA approved or rejected. Per the USDA website “Inspection for wholesomeness is mandatory and is paid for with public funds.” If ingredients are graded – such as Prime Beef or Grade A Poultry – the USDA charges a fee to the company wishing to sell graded foods (higher quality/grade = higher price). Rejected meats and meat products (example internal organs) are – according to federal law – not to be sold for consumption…for any reason, for animals or humans.
State Department of Agriculture agencies work in conjunction with the mother-ship USDA. The Food Safety Inspection Services (FSIS) division of the USDA “requires State inspection programs to be at least equal to the Federal inspection program.”
So, pet food consumers should be able to assume that because State Agriculture Representatives work together with U.S. Department of Agriculture to inspect and approve meats for consumption (consumed by humans or animals) as federal laws require…the same definition for human grade meats and meat products (USDA Inspected and Approved) would be appropriate for AAFCO…because they ARE State Department of Agriculture Representatives…right?
Somewhere along the way, the FDA took it upon themselves to develop Compliance Policies allowing pet food meats to bypass the federal laws that the U.S. and State Department of Agricultures work to enforce.
And, somewhere along the way, AAFCO members – although they are State Department of Agriculture employees – decided to ignore the mother-ship’s (USDA) definition/requirement of all meats and meat products sold in the U.S. (human grade/Inspected and Approved) and decided to follow the FDA guidance.
It boils down to this…
Federal Law requires all meat sold in the U.S. to be inspected and approved by the USDA; regardless to for human or for animal consumption.
The FDA, through use of Compliance Policies, allows pet food manufacturing to bypass the federal USDA Inspected and Approved.
Pet Food meats and meat products (such as internal organs) are either USDA inspected and approved or they are not.
And the pet food manufacturer knows full well which side of the fence their meat ingredients reside on…further, they can provide you proof of USDA inspected and approved if they wanted to.
If you wish to feed your dog or cat a pet food that is made from the same quality of meats you would feed to any other member of your family…Ask the manufacturer of your pet’s food and treats which side of the fence their meat ingredients are from.
Ask them, “Are the meats used in your pet food/treats USDA Inspected and Approved?” The response should be either yes or no. And, if you’d like proof – the pet food/treat manufacturer should be more than willing to provide you evidence to support their claim.
Do not accept the responses…
Answer: “AAFCO has no definition for human grade.”
Answer: “Our pet foods are made in a pet food plant, it is illegal for us to state the ingredients are human grade.”
Answer: “We use only the finest quality of ingredients.”
Answer: “Our ingredients are sourced from USDA inspected facilities.”
Using simple logic, if a pet food bothers to use USDA inspected and approved meats and vegetables – they will be more than happy to provide you a ‘Yes’ to your question and further provide clarification. For example from some pet food companies you will hear the response…
Answer: “Yes, all meat and vegetable ingredients are USDA inspected and approved; poultry is Grade A, Beef is Prime, vegetables are Restaurant grade.”
Don’t believe for one moment that they can’t tell you. Regulations do not allow for reference to grade or quality on the pet food label, and regulations do not allow for the ‘human grade’ statement on labels unless a pet food is manufactured in a human food processing facility. But, with every shipment of poultry or beef or carrots received by the manufacturer comes a description of product purchased. The bill of lading, invoice, and often the food package itself will be marked as USDA Inspected/Approved (if it is Inspected and Approved).
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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