Selling pet food – selling the moon is made of cheese
One of my newsletter subscribers was recently in a Whole Foods Market in North Carolina. Going down the pet food aisle – being a smart pet owner – she flipped over a Whole Foods brand of cat food (365 Cat Food) and read the label. First ingredient – by-products.
Backing up a little – Whole Foods Market provides the following statement on their website…”Founded in 1980 as one small store in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods Market® is now the world’s leading retailer of natural and organic foods, with 198 stores in North America and the United Kingdom. To date Whole Foods Market remains uniquely mission driven: We’re highly selective about what we sell, dedicated to stringent Quality Standards, and committed to sustainable agriculture.”
With that out of the way, let’s go back to this concerned pet owners experience. Rightfully so, she was appalled that Whole Foods would be selling a pet food that contained by-products. And she told them about it (yeah for her!). She sent them an email calling their hand on trying to pass off a pet food as ‘human grade’ in their market that contains by-products.
Not wanting to get her or myself in any hot water – I can’t provide you the entire email – but Jason Hays Guest Services Content Administrator, Private Label – assured her that all Whole Foods pet foods are “human grade” – including those with by-products. He even quoted her the AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials) definition of by-products in his email.
Ahhh, but since I wasn’t born last night – I saw that he left out one complete sentence out of the definition. That sentence is this…”It shall be suitable for use in animal food.” The definition of by-product per AAFCO – which everyone has to follow their rules – is this…”The non-rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially defatted low temperature fatty tissue, and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, horns, teeth and hoofs. It shall be suitable for use in animal food. If it bears name descriptive of its kind, it must correspond thereto.”
There is NO definition per AAFCO for a human grade by-product. It does not exist.
Below is the Wikipedia definition of a meat by-product…
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Meat by-products are ground and cleaned slaughtered meat carcass parts such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, bones, heads, and intestines (and a small amount of feathers in the case of chicken meat). The terms meat by-products or animal by-products are often used in reference to the ingredients included in commercial pet foods.
The official definition for meat by-products by the Association Of American Feed Control Officials, Inc. (AAFCO) is:
“The non-rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially defatted low temperature fatty tissue, and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, horns, teeth and hoofs. It shall be suitable for use in animal food. If it bears name descriptive of its kind, it must correspond thereto.”
In many cases, by-product meals are derived from “4-D” meat sources — defined as food animals that have been rejected for human consumption because they were presented to the meat packing plant as “Dead, Dying, Diseased or Disabled.” The quality of animal meat by-products also tends to be very inconsistent between batches.
Meat by-products are commonly found in lower-grade pet foods and even many of the larger name brands, including Science Diet (even their prescription diet product line), Purina (both Purina One and Purina Pro Plan), and Iams / Eukanuba. Ingredients listed as “meat, beef, chicken, and/or poultry by-products” on pet food labels are not required to include actual meat, and “rendered meat” on labels can refer to any rendered mammal meat, including dogs and cats.
So here is my take on this – if you are going to use by-products or any less than human grade ingredient in your pet food or pet treats – fine. Just don’t try to sell it as human grade. Don’t try to convince me the moon is made of cheese. I don’t agree with companies using inferior, garbage ingredients in their pet products – but if you are going to take that road, the least you can do is be honest about it. OK, I know sales would probably take a nose dive if a pet food bag showed pictures of livers, chicken heads, and intestines on the label – instead of showing fresh vegetables and huge chunks of fresh meat. Just stop pitching me that the moon is made of cheese!!!
Whole Foods Market – shame on you! You might have done your homework on your people food (now I have my doubts), but it’s obvious you have not learned what’s real in the pet food world. I hope the concerned pet owner that took the time to write them nudges them towards cleaning up their pet products aisle. What this lesson tells you – is that regardless where you shop, you have to flip over the bag and read the ingredients. People product or pet product. We don’t have to all become licensed nutritionists – but for our safety and health (and that of our pets) we have to know a few things about what we are buying.
You can be sure in knowing that if a pet food or treat contains by-products, it is not human grade ingredients. Unfortunately, often times when there is no by-products listed – the ingredients are still not ‘human grade’. Pet food grade and human grade are two very distinct categories. Pet food grade or quality can contain things that are not even allowed in cattle or sheep feed (for fear of future contamination of the human food chain). Please, please, please – only give your pet a human grade/quality food and treat.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
Is your dog or cat eating risk ingredients? Chinese imports? Petsumer Report tells the ‘rest of the story’ on over 2500 cat foods, dog foods, and pet treats. 30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee. www.PetsumerReport.com
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