There were many questions about the new Humane Choice dog food. Vegan? Uruguay? Country of origin of ingredients? Here are some answers and the perplexing path to find them.
Of course I had questions about the newly announced vegan dog food produced for the Humane Society of the United States. Was a vegan dog food safe? What scientific research did the HSUS base this decision for a vegan dog food on? Why go to Uruguay…why not support a U.S. company and farmers? What is the country of origin of ingredients in this food? Do any ingredients come from China?
To find answers, we went in several different directions. One direction was Sarah Barnett, Emerging Media Manager, Online Communications for HSUS. The other direction was to G & B Marketing (the manufacturer representative of this dog food) via secret pet food shoppers.
Question to Sarah Barnett of HSUS
Why is Humane Choice manufactured in Uruguay?
“We sought a USDA-certified organic manufacturer with years of experience producing quality dog food, and facilities that met our safety, sanitary, and environmental expectations. The family-owned and -operated business in Uruguay we chose has been producing and exporting organic and vegetarian dog food for some years. The grains and vegetables used in Humane Choice are grown on the very same farms that the family has relied upon for half a century. The selection of such a partner means that we can supervise harvest, production, and packaging of Humane Choice in one location, through a single-source supplier committed to local, sustainable agriculture. This helps us to minimize our impact on the environment while maximizing control over the production of Humane Choice – from farm to food bowl.”
Question to G & B Marketing from Secret Shopper
“Thank you for contacting us and your interest in the Humane Choice Dog Food. After researching for the best ingredients possible for the Humane Choice dog food, Uruguay was chosen for it’s pure, uncontaminated soil and year round temperature. The conditions in Uruguay produces the top organic ingredients we were seeking for. Please feel free to contact us again if you have any further questions.
Uruguay is NOT a member of IFOAM – International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements; worldwide umbrella organization for the organic movement, uniting more than 750 member organizations in 108 countries. http://www.ifoam.org/about_ifoam/index.html
Organic-World.net states that Uruguay has 930,965 certified organic acres for farming (2007 statistics) versus the United States having 1,640,769 certified organic acres for farming (2007 statistics). http://www.organic-world.net/statistics-world.html
Question to HSUS
What is the research the HSUS based a vegan diet on…to assure pets are not at risk from this type of diet?
“Over the past two years, we employed the services of a two different veterinary nutritionists, both members of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition, to evaluate the formula and ingredients as well as the specific forms of the vitamins and minerals used in Humane Choice to ensure that our food would meet all the requirements established by AAFCO for adult dogs. We also conducted numerous chemical analyses to verify that Humane Choice meets ALL AAFCO standards for a complete and balanced food. Finally, we conducted digestibility tests to ensure the digestibility. All test results were analyzed by our veterinary nutrition consultants.”
Questions to G & B Marketing from Secret Shopper
Secret Shopper #1
What is the shelf life of Humane Choice?
What is the country of origin of ingredients including vitamins and minerals?
“Thank you for contacting us and your interest in the Humane Choice Dog Food. The shelf life for the food is 18 months from production. The lot number and production date are stamped on each bag of food that is made. All ingredients are grown & harvested in Uruguay and for the list of ingredients including vitamins & minerals, please visit our website at thehumanechoice.com
If you should have further inquiries, please feel free to contact us again!”
Follow up question from Secret Shopper #1
Are the vitamins and minerals sourced from Uruguay too?
“Yes, the minerals are from the ground so the answer to that is yes. And the vitamins are from Switzerland.
What? The minerals are from the ground so yes they are from Uruguay?
Follow up question (again) from Secret Shopper #1
“the minerals are from the ground so the answer to that is yes.”
I’m not meaning the minerals found naturally in the ingredients, I am specifically asking about the minerals added to the food. From your ingredient list…Minerals (ferric sulfate, zinc oxide, sodium selenate, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, calcium iodate). What is the country of origin of those ingredients?”
Secret Shopper #2
What is the country of origin of vitamins and minerals?
“The vitamins & minerals are from Switzerland. Thank you again for your interest in the Humane Choice Dog Food!
Confusion. Two more inquiries regarding country of origin of vitamins and minerals have gone unanswered.
In asking the vitamin/mineral country of origin question hundreds of times to pet food manufacturers, I have to say, this is the very first time I have ever heard the response Switzerland (and yes the very first time I’ve heard ‘the minerals are from the ground’ too).
Not that this is completely accurate, but I did a search for vitamin/mineral premix suppliers (premix is the term used for animal feed manufacturing supplements) for animal feed…I didn’t find one company located in Switzerland.
vitamin premix suppliers – zero listed from Switzerland.
mineral premix suppliers – zero listed from Switzerland.
Another website providing worldwide listings of vitamin/mineral premix manufacturers for animal feed – zero from Switzerland.
Note: It could be completely correct that Humane Choice Dog Food sources its vitamin/mineral premix from Switzerland. Although my search did not discover a Swiss manufacturer, it does not mean this is not true and accurate.
Now here’s one more thing to ponder…the name – Humane Choice. Did you know that ‘Humane Choice’ is a Humane Society International accreditation system for free range pork, beef, lamb, chicken and egg producers? “The Humane Choice label will denote the animal has had the best life and death offered to any farm animal.” http://www.humanechoice.com.au/
Does the Humane Choice name mislead Petsumers?
The front label of the dog food (the only thing many pet owners look at when purchasing a pet food) does not clearly state the food is vegan. The label states – “Made with Fresh Vegetables” – not made from fresh vegetables. True, an informed pet owner would look at the ingredient list and quickly see there are no meat ingredients. But what about the typical uninformed dog owner? The majority of dog owners? Is this fair to the typical uninformed dog owner that perhaps would not wish to feed their dog a vegan food? Are they over marketing The Humane Society name and under marketing the vegan concept?
Humane Society, if you wish to sell a Vegan Dog Food, I have no problem with that. Although I would never give my own pets a vegan diet, there are numerous pet owners that do and have had great success with it. However, I do find your labeling a bit misleading. Be honest and upfront; clearly tell Petsumers it is a vegan dog food, front of the label in plain sight.
I remain dismayed at why you chose Uruguay to manufacture your food. This dog food is not a product of the International Humane Society, it is a product of the Humane Society of the United States. I have to wonder if any organic animal loving farmer ever donated to HSUS. My guess would be that close to 100% of all HSUS donations come from United States citizens. What a shame you couldn’t return the favor.
If indeed your vitamin/mineral premix is sourced from Switzerland, provide verification of such to Petsumers. All consumers deserve to know Country of Origin of all ingredients in all foods. Don’t make consumers do detective work.
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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