The March 2009 Consumer Reports is telling pet owners Pricey Pet Food Not Necessarily Better; don’t buy what they are selling you. The inaccurate and misleading Consumer Reports story seems to be merely a marketing piece, supporting low quality pet food manufacturers instead of protecting consumers.
Consumer Reports has been a publication that many have depended on for years; the March 2009 edition clearly shows they didn’t do their homework. The misleading article titled ‘PRICEY PET FOOD NOT NECESSARILY BETTER’ is nothing more than a feature length pet food advertising strategy; supporting many un-truths about pet food quality and sadly, directing petsumers to look for the wrong things when choosing a dog food or cat food.
The second paragraph of the Consumer Reports pet food article sets the misleading stage, scaring pet owners with untruthful cost per serving information. The article states that low end pet foods of the WalMart variety would cost a pet owner of a 35 pound dog .38 cents per day, versus $2.88 per day for an organic brand. Even more startling (and even more misleading), is their quoted cost per day feeding of canned foods; from $1.38 per day for another Walmart food to $4.78 per day for a higher quality dog food. The truth is far from what Consumer Reports is trying to sell.
When you crunch the numbers, and compare the cost per serving of what appears to be cheap pet food versus what appears to be expensive, unaffordable pet food, you’ll discover that the difference in cost per serving per day is only pennies. In many cases, higher quality, seemingly higher priced pet foods are actually less expensive than discount dog and cat foods. Higher quality of ingredients means the pet needs to consume less of the food to obtain necessary nutrition. Take a calculator to the pet store yourself; definitely don’t believe what Consumer Reports is trying to make you believe.
The Consumer Reports article continues with the following: “Most experts said individual ingredients are much less important than overall nutrient profile.” Nutrient profile? Since there is no ‘nutrient profile’ category listed on any pet food label, we have to assume the Consumer Reports experts meant to say Guaranteed Analysis; furthermore, no, the Guaranteed Analysis or Nutrient Profile is NOT more important than ingredients.
Compliments of the FDA and AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials), dog foods and cat foods must contain a minimum of various nutrients such as protein. However, regulations allow practically anything to be the source of these nutrients. As example, pet food protein. An adult maintenance dog food must contain at least 18% protein; an adult maintenance cat food must contain at least 26% protein. Thanks to misleading advertising and misinformed articles such as the Consumer Reports article, pet owners are led to believe protein means ‘meat’. However, pet food regulations state protein can be found in corn, chicken feet, and even diseased or euthanized animals (and the lethal drug used to kill them). As long as an adult maintenance dog food analyzes as 18% protein and an adult maintenance cat food analyzes as 26% protein, very little attention is given to where that protein comes from; high quality meat or diseased, decaying animals all analyze as protein. Nutrient profile or Guaranteed Analysis provides a petsumer with NO information to the quality of the nutrition provided.
Opposed to what Consumer Reports tells pet owners, ingredients DO tell a great deal to petsumers. Common pet food ingredients ‘animal fat’, ‘meat and bone meal’, ‘meat meal’, ‘animal digest’, and ‘by-product meal’ all provide ‘protein’ to a dog food or cat food, yet they can contain rendered (cooked) diseased, decaying, and drugged animals. Although pet foods ingredients containing diseased, decaying, and drugged animals should be in violation of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act laws, the FDA has ignored Federal Laws and allowed their use in pet food. Don’t ‘buy’ what Consumer Reports is selling you, ingredients and quality of ingredients matter a great deal to your pet’s overall health.
The next piece of misleading and incorrect information provided by Consumer Reports advises pet owners to look for labels stating that the food’s nutritional adequacy was validated by animal-feeding tests based on protocols from the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). The ‘truth’ is that AAFCO’s animal feeding trials could validate a highly inferior pet food quite easily. AAFCO regulations allow a dog food to be provided this certification (using the term certification lightly) after a 26 week test using 30 dogs. One fourth of the dogs can be removed from the final testing results if they don’t meet the necessary good outcome. Along with some minimal blood testing, dogs cannot lose more than 15% of their initial body weight in order to provide the needed approval. Dogs are not required to be provided play and exercise as they would in a typical home; they can be crated with little to no activity in order to maintain body weight necessary for positive test results. Although some pet foods approved by feeding trials might be high quality, the regulations do NOT assure pet owners they are of any particular higher quality.
Another misleading point Consumer Reports is trying to sell pet owners regards health promoting ingredients. “There’s some evidence that antioxidants – such as vitamin E – and some omega-3 fatty acids might enhance pets’ immunity or help protect against certain diseases, but the experts interviewed by Consumer Reports were split on whether consumers need to look for them.” Some evidence? The truth is that there is a wealth of evidence that antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids benefit pets and help protect against disease. The Consumer Reports article seemed to be protecting the pet food manufacturers that choose profits over pet health; protecting pet foods those that don’t use health promoting ingredients.
Although this could go on for days, there is one more point the Consumer Reports article proved to mislead pet owners and seemed to protect some pet food manufacturing interests. They stated “Most experts said they hadn’t seen a pet get sick from inexpensive food; however, half said they had seen pets become ill from eating homemade pet food.”
If ‘most experts’ have not seen a pet get sick from inexpensive food, perhaps these ‘experts’ are blind to the skyrocketing increases in pet cancer, kidney disease, and liver disease. Inexpensive dog foods and cat foods come from inexpensive ingredient sources, risky chemicals and dyes. Science HAS linked the following inexpensive pet food ingredients to serious disease: ethoxyquin, BHA, BHT, menadione sodium bisulfate, BPA and many pet food dyes. Sadly, there is no scientific evidence that proves pets consuming foods containing diseased, decaying, and drugged animals cause disease or hinders optimal health. Such research is not necessary however; there is no need to subject more pets to such hideous ingredients to conclude what any third grader could figure out given all the information. This is where the problem lies; pet owners are NOT given all the information.
Articles such as this worthless piece from Consumer Reports, and slick marketing tricks used by some pet food manufacturers continue to keep pet owners in the dark. Trusting pet owners see pictures of choice cuts of meat on a pet food label and assume steak or chicken breast is inside the bag or can. Many popular pet foods that provide pictures of steak or chicken breast on the label, actually contain the remains of diseased, decaying, and drugged animals, along with a mix of risky chemicals and dyes.
These so called experts quoted in the Consumer Report article need to talk to pet owners, the real experts, who have changed their pet’s diet to a high quality meat based pet food, naturally preserved, with a multitude of health promoting ingredients. These pet owners have seen the changes in their pets with their own eyes. Changes witnessed range from a shinier coat and increased activity to being able to stop hundreds of dollars in allergy treatments each month. Don’t dare try to tell these experts a high priced pet food that they bothered to learn contained high quality ingredients and health promoting ingredients didn’t make a difference in their pet. These pet food experts have living, healthy proof that high quality pet food makes a tremendous difference.
By the way, the ‘experts’ consulted by Consumer Report, seven of the eight ‘experts’ interviewed have received funding from the pet food industry. Consumer Reports, your article is bunk.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author, Buyer Beware
Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
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