Meat species mislabelling is very bad in pet food but do we care?

A study conducted in Italy tells us that the labelling of meat species in wet and dry pet food is highly unreliable and misleading. It is not just slightly wrong, it is very badly wrong. The study included American pet food as well.

Pet food labelling misleading re animal species
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In testing 52 dog and cat foods for sale in the American market which specified that the pet food was based upon eight different animal species, the researchers found that 38.5% of the foods were potentially mislabelled. This is because they contained undeclared meat species or the declared meat species was not present in the food. Are you as surprised as I am that 38.5% of pet foods were mislabelled like this?

In a study conducted in Britain testing for the presence of pork, chicken, beef and horse in 17 popular wet pet foods available in supermarkets, researchers found that chicken, pig and cow were included in 15 of the foods despite not being listed as ingredients on labels.

The Italian researchers referred to veterinarians who want to conduct tests to diagnose adverse reactions to certain pet food ingredients. They say that this is impossible [my interpretation] when the ingredients are so fundamentally mislabelled.

In the Italian study 40 products were analysed. Ten or a quarter of the products contained ingredients which matched the label. Five of the products did not contain one of the listed animal species in the ingredients while 23 of the 40 contained undeclared animal species. The most frequently found undeclared animal species were pork, turkey and chicken in wet pet foods.

Only 25% of the products analysed were judged as suitable for an effective adverse food reaction diagnosis. In other words a quarter of the pet foods studied could be used by veterinarians to help diagnose adverse reactions.

The researchers stress that the results reflect the contamination of “only the batches collected here, and therefore the mislabelling of a specific product cannot be generalised either to the respective producer’s previous or future productive lots”.

The researchers suggest that a home-made elimination diet may be a reasonable alternative to commercial products because, I presume, commercial products cannot be relied upon.

The Italian study referred to is titled: “Undeclared animal species in dry and wet novel and hydrolysed protein diets for dogs and cats detected by micro-array analysis”.

The European Pet Food Industry Federation state that labels must be accurate and provide detailed information on the ingredients. I suppose it goes without saying but I’ve said it anyway. Mislabelling is widespread in pet foods used as elimination diets. The researchers suggest that contamination can occur. I wonder whether it is careless contamination or deliberate mislabelling? Pet food manufacturers should pay particular attention to the selection of raw material suppliers and the production process to reduce contamination of their products.

Link to Italian study.

Source of article other than the study.

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