Claims made of some pet foods make the food out to be nothing short of amazing. But are these claims true? Here are a few examples of pet food marketing and what the manufacturer said regarding these claims.
A visit to the Fancy Feast website, and I quickly found an interesting claim made of a pet food I wanted to know more about; “slow-cooked”. Slow-cooked? That’s interesting, here’s the quote from the Fancy Feast website…
The pet food name is: Delights with Cheddar Grilled Chicken & Cheddar Cheese Feast in Gravy
And the claim is: “Succulent slow-cooked feast with chicken and a delightful cheddar cheese flavor.”
A phone call to Fancy Feast (made by Purina) was answered by Tina. Below is a recap of our conversation…
Me: Yes Tina, I’d like to know what it means on your Cheddar Grilled Chicken Feast when it says ‘slow cooked’.
Tina: Sure I can give you a definition for that, one moment please…oh, we have no definition to that.
Me: Ok, well then can you tell me how long this food is cooked – as compared to how long other canned foods are cooked.
Tina: I have no information on how long foods are cooked.
Me: You have no information on how long this food is cooked, you don’t have a definition for slow-cooked, yet you make the marketing statement it is slow cooked?
Tina: I don’t understand the question.
Me: I’d like an explanation for the statement you make on your website – ‘succulent slow-cooked feast’ – what is slow-cooked.
Tina: I don’t have a definition for that, but I can have someone return the call with that information.
Me: Ok, that will work.
Forty-eight hours later, still no return call from Fancy Feast.
The next search of pet food claims led me to…Iams Premium Protection Adult Dog Food. The claim that caught my attention was “The nutrient-rich chicken by-product meal in Iams Premium Protection is an excellent source of protein.”
A phone call to Iams, Paulette answered the phone.
Me: Your website states in regards to your Iams Premium Protection Dog Food ‘nutrient rich chicken by product meal is an excellent source of protein’, can you tell me exactly what is in that by product meal?
Paulette: Yes certainly. The by-product meal includes some muscle meat and some internal organs, no beaks, feet.
Me: Ok, you stated ‘some muscle meat’ – what is the percentage in the by product meal of muscle meat to internal organs?
Paulette: I can’t give you that information because it is proprietary.
Me: Why is it proprietary? I don’t understand.
Paulette: That by-product meal is part of our unique formula and thus would be considered proprietary to our formula.
Me: Ok, is the muscle meat and internal organs sourced from USDA approved chickens?
Paulette: Yes, it is sourced from USDA approved suppliers.
Me: Yes – ok – it is sourced from USDA approved suppliers, but USDA approved suppliers have rejected chickens – I’m asking if the muscle meat and internal organs would be USDA approved.
Paulette: Yes, they are USDA approved. You and I can sit down at a table and eat these by-products.
Another search of pet food claims led me to Science Diet Senior 11+ Age Defying™ Cat Food. Interesting that the term ‘age defying’ was trademarked. The claim that caught my attention…
“Hill’s® Science Diet® Senior 11+ Age Defying™ cat food provides breakthrough, tailored nutrition for your 11+ cat for a healthy and happy life. It fights 4 important signs of aging in as little as 30 days. Typical signs of aging include more accidents in house, sleeping more, less agility, and less interaction with owner. It also contains an exclusive antioxidant bundle which helps defend the body and brain against aging. Age Defying™ is also rich in Omega-6 fatty acids to help promote soft skin & radiant coat.”
With a phone call to Science Diet, I spoke with Takara.
Me: I’m calling for more information about your Senior Age Defying cat food. On your website it states this food fights ‘4 important signs of aging in 30 days’ – and since you list four signs such as accidents in the house, sleeping more, less agility, and less interaction with the owner – I’m assuming those are the 4 signs of aging this food helps. Can you tell me how this food helps with that?
Takara: The food contains fish oil for improved cognitive function and L-Carnitine to support lean muscle; it also contains controlled levels of phosphorus, magnesium and sodium for bladder health.
Me: But I still don’t understand, do you have studies that prove this?
Takara: Oh yes, we can’t make these claims without proof – we studied the food before it was available to the public.
Me: Are those studies available on the website?
Takara: Let me look…no it doesn’t appear they are.
Me: So how can I know what you are saying about this food is true?
Takara: We are not allowed to make any claims without proof. The studies were provided to the FDA and to AAFCO in order for us to make these claims.
Me: But again, are these studies not available to the consumer?
Takara: Not exactly – they’re scientific.
Me: So you provide this research to the FDA and AAFCO but not the consumer?
Takara: Do you want me to see if the research is available for you?
Me: Yes, please.
(after a few moments of being on hold)
Takara: The studies are published on the AVMA website.
Me: Great. How do I find this study – what is the name of this study.
Takara: You’ll find it under the pet food name.
Me: Thank you, I’ll look for it.
A visit to the AVMA website – enter in the search box Science Diet Senior 11+ Age Defying tm Cat Food…and this is what I found…
Pet food recalls
AVMA brochures for cat owners
Pet food consumers deserve to know the studies, the cooking time, and the exact percentage of muscle meat to internal organs in the by-product meal of their pet food. If we ask, we should be provided with answers. And most certainly, we should ask!
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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