There are numerous pet foods that feature the words ‘Grilled’ or ‘Roasted’ or other home cooking type within the name of the pet food product.  While Grilled or Roasted can be misleading to a consumer (if the ingredients are not grilled or roasted), some pet foods take it even further with pictures on their packages.  Is the pet food consumer being misled by these product labels?

Each year, in almost every state (in the U.S.) – pet food companies have to register each product they sell within that state with the respective State Department of Agriculture.  Many states charge a fee per tonnage of pet food sold or per number of products available for sale (different varieties).  The pet foods offered for sale in each state are not only required to meet various food safety laws (developed by AAFCO and adopted in each state), the products are also required to comply with labeling laws.  Labeling laws are for the protection of the consumer; so that the package doesn’t mislead the consumer into purchasing the product.  With respect to images/pictures displayed on a pet food label the law states: (Regulation PF2.c 2014 AAFCO Official Publication) “A vignette, graphic, or pictorial representation on a pet food or specialty pet food label shall not misrepresent the contents of the package.”

But, it seems some pet food manufacturers don’t take this law seriously.  And no regulatory authority is acting to protect the pet food consumer.

Take a look at this dog food package…

[col col=6]KibblesBitsAmericanGrill[/col]
[col col=6]Notice the picture of the huge grilled steak featured on this Kibbles ‘n Bits dog food.

The name of this variety is “Grilled USA Beef Steak Flavor”.  That’s not “USA Beef Steak” it’s USA beef steak flavor.  If the name of the pet food was USA Beef Steak – the company would be required to include actual beef steak in the pet food.  So the name is ‘Flavor’ – thus they are only required to include USA beef steak flavor in the dog food.

Oh but there’s that picture…that beautiful picture of a grilled steak right there on the front of the bag.  Remember the law quoted above – the “pictorial representation on the pet food label shall not misrepresent the contents of the package”.  So this dog food must include steak…right?

Wrong.  The ingredients of this dog food tell us something different than grilled steak.  In this dog food, the only ‘meat’ ingredient is “beef and bone meal” – which is a rendered ingredient (ground and cooked prior to being cooked in the pet food) that looks like this…



So…no grilled steak inside the bag of Kibble ‘n Bits – but there is brown powdered meat.  Is this pet food package with that big picture of grilled steak on the label misleading consumers?




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Freshpet is another pet food that clearly shows grilled chicken on their pet food label.  And guess what?  Freshpet told me in July 2012 – “no, the chicken is not grilled”.

I had hoped that with bringing this grilled misrepresentation to Freshpet’s attention (and to FDA and to State Department of Agriculture’s attention) in 2012, the company would have changed their labels to accurately portray the ingredients of their pet food…but no, that didn’t happen.  Instead, Freshpet has taken the same approach – using faux grilled chicken on the label – with their new line of pet food  Nature’s Fresh.

Are these pet food packages displaying grilled chicken when no grilled chicken is inside the bag misleading consumers? [/col]
[col col=4]FP__0015_NF_WM_Dog_Chx_175lb[/col]


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This Friskies Cat Food does things a bit differently.  The name of the cat food is “Grillers” and the label displays a grill with pet food pieces on it.  Purina stated the pet food is “not actually put on a grill”.

Is this cat food misleading consumers to believe the food or ingredients are grilled?

[col col=6]Friskies[/col]




And one more…

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This Pedigree Dog Food shows sliced grilled chicken on the label.  I tried calling Pedigree to ask if the chicken is grilled but after waiting several minutes on hold (listening to recordings of how Pedigree is proudly made in the U.S. or Canada), another recording told me the office was closed.

PedigreeCostcoAt $0.42 a pound (at Costco), we can safely assume Pedigree does not grill their chicken.

Is this pet food label displaying grilled chicken misleading consumers?  [/col]


Why are any of these products allowed to display grilled meats on their labels when inside the bag is not grilled meat?

Why has every regulatory authority ignored these label misrepresentations?

The grilling on the pet food packages is marketing, but the consumer is the one getting burned.


Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
Association for Truth in Pet Food

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