Two years ago, ELISA Technologies, Inc., a laboratory in Florida, revealed alarming mislabeling of dog food after testing 21 dog food formulas for gluten and animal protein sources. The lab then compared their test results with the ingredient labels on the dog food packages, and learned that 10 of the 21 foods were mislabeled as follows:
More recently, another pet food labeling study was conducted by Chapman University in Orange, California. The results were published in August in the journal Food Control,1 and like the study results two years ago, raise serious concerns for all of us who depend on accurate ingredient listings on pet food labels.
Over 50 Dog and Cat Diets Were Examined for Evidence of ‘Food Fraud’According to Dr. Rosalee Hellberg, co-author of the Chapman University study:
"Although regulations exist for pet foods, increase in international trade and globalization of the food supply have amplified the potential for food fraud to occur.
"With the recent discovery of horsemeat in ground meat products sold for human consumption in several European countries, finding horsemeat in U.S. consumer food and pet food products is a concern, which is one of the reasons we wanted to do this study."2
The Chapman study tested 52 commercial dog and cat foods to determine what meat species were present, and any instances of mislabeling. For each product, DNA was extracted and tested for 8 types of meat: beef, goat, lamb, chicken, goose, turkey, pork, and horse.
Of the 52 Products Tested, 20 Were Mislabeled
A majority of the pet food tested by the researchers contained chicken, followed by pork, beef, turkey, and lamb, in that order. A few of the formulas contained goose; none contained horsemeat. Of the 52 products tested, 20 were “potentially” mislabeled, and one contained a non-specific meat ingredient that could not be verified.
Of the 20 mislabeled products, 13 were dog food and 7 were cat food. Of the 20, 16 contained meat species that were not listed on the product label, with pork being the most common unlisted ingredient. In three cases, one or two meat species were substituted for other meat species.
The Chapman University researchers concluded that while pet foods are regulated by both federal and state entities, it’s clear that mislabeling is occurring, though how it’s happening, and whether or not it’s intentional is unclear.
What to Do if You’re Concerned About Misleading Pet Food Labels
In the study two years ago, 48 percent of the dog food tested was mislabeled. In the more recent Chapman University study, 38 percent of tested pet foods were mislabeled. That’s a truly disturbing amount of mislabeled pet food, and even more frustrating is that neither study revealed the names or manufacturers of the mislabeled products.
If you’re concerned about the ingredients in your pet’s food – perhaps you have a dog or cat with allergies or who requires a novel protein diet to treat food sensitivities or bowel disease – you can try contacting the pet food manufacturer to ask how, and how often, they verify the authenticity of their ingredients.
A few questions to ask:
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