Rachael Ray’s Nutrish Pet Food has been named “the fastest growing US Pet Food brand”. Why? Could it be marketing? Could it be celebrity endorsement? Or is it the fact that FDA and State Department of Agriculture does not enforce law?
The press release about the pet food growth states “Euromonitor International Limited has determined that, Rachael Ray Nutrish is the fastest growing US Pet Food brand among brands in excess of $200 million in annual sales in 2016. The claim comes after the brand accomplished its most successful year to date, with sales up 49 percent in 2016 vs. the previous year.”
Why would this pet food be the fastest growing US brand?
First – Rachael Ray Nutrish is a feed grade pet food. It is not food – it is feed. There’s a difference.
Human grade pet food is made with ‘food’ ingredients, the very same quality of ingredients sold in grocery stores all across the US. AAFCO defines human grade as “Every ingredient and the resulting product are stored, handled, processed, and transported in a manner that is consistent and compliant with regulations for current good manufacturing practices for human edible foods.”
Feed grade pet food – on the other hand – is NOT the same quality of ingredients sold in grocery stores. Feed grade is defined by AAFCO as: “Material that has been determined to be safe, functional, and suitable for its intended use in animal food, is handled and labeled appropriately, and conforms to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act unless otherwise expressly permitted by the appropriate state or federal agency (suitable for use in animal feed).”
In other words…feed grade pet foods are legal…unless they aren’t legal…and by the way, many are not legal. Feed grade pet foods are openly allowed by FDA and each State Department of Agriculture to violate federal and state law.
As example of illegal…
The Rachael Ray Nutrish Super Premium Food for Dogs Real Chicken & Veggies Recipe…
…states on the pet food label it is made with “real chicken”. But the reality is that it is made with ‘real pet food chicken’.
If this was a human food, the “real chicken” stated on the label would mean USDA inspected and approved chicken meat. But this is not human food (and not human grade pet food), this is a feed grade pet food allowed to use ‘pet food chicken’. Pet food chicken (unless it is human grade pet food) is very different than human food chicken.
The legal definition of ‘chicken’ in pet food allows it to be sourced from USDA inspected and approved chicken (human grade) OR chicken skin and bones – little to no meat OR USDA inspected and condemned chicken. Condemned chicken is a violation of federal law. But…illegal chicken is allowed in pet food – “expressly permitted by the appropriate state or federal agency” (from the definition of feed grade – appropriate state or federal agency allowing the violation are FDA and each State Department of Agriculture). All three of these options are “Real Chicken” in pet food.
A consumer purchasing a pet food made with feed grade ingredients does not know what type of chicken is in the pet food. It could be made with chicken that abides by law (USDA inspected and approved) or it could be made with feed grade pet food chicken sourced from USDA condemned chicken that does NOT abide by law.
Is this pet food ‘the fastest growing brand in the US’ because most consumers don’t understand or even know a different definition of chicken (pet food chicken) exists?
Or is this pet food ‘the fastest growing brand’ because of the marketing of all the “Real Ingredients” – appearing to look just like prime human food ingredients? From the Nutrish website…
Remember, ‘real’ ingredients in feed grade pet food have their own legal definitions very different than human food (and very different than the images on the Nutrish website). Remember, “appropriate state or federal agencies” DO NOT enforce law with pet food and openly allow illegal ingredients. And remember that regulatory authorities DO NOT enforce laws governing pet food websites (all regulatory authorities ignore the false and misleading claims). Is this marketing of ‘real’ ingredients the reason for this pet food being the fastest growing brand? Is lack of enforcement of laws, lack of enforcement of website/marketing regulations the reason this pet food is the fastest growing?
Or is this pet food brand ‘the fastest growing brand in the US’ because of celebrity endorsement with further marketing of ‘real’ pet food ingredients?
It could be that Rachel Ray Nutrish Pet Food uses the same prime quality ingredients as they advertise…but that’s unlikely. Boneless chicken breast – as displayed on the Nutrish label – “averages $3.18 a pound nationally” (retail – according to Coupons.com). Chewy.com sells Rachel Ray Nutrish Super Premium Food for Dogs Real Chicken & Veggies Recipe for about $1.00 a pound (again – retail). The numbers don’t add up.
So what do you think? Why is this feed grade pet food the fastest growing US brand?
Until law is enforced in pet food – all laws – consumers are going to be misled by slick marketing.
Opinion: I don’t know how ANYONE at FDA or ANYONE at any State Department of Agriculture can look at themselves in the mirror knowing they allow millions of consumers to be lied to.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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