Pet food labels may not reveal everything
Think your cat is the best fed feline on the street? Think again. A study by the University of Nottingham has revealed that many of the most popular pet food manufacturer’s products contain large quantities of meat not listed on the label. Not only does the scandal provide fresh worries for nutritionally conscious pet owners, it also provides a good case study into the importance of professional labeling on products, as outlined below.
The trouble with pet food
The University of Nottingham subjected several leading pet food brands to DNA testing to investigate just what lies within the can. And, worryingly, of the seventeen pet foods tested, fourteen contained meats that were not listed on it.
Seven products included in the study boasted their contents as containing ‘real beef’ or ‘with beef’. However, they only actually contained 56% of cow DNA. This was particularly evident in one product that had just 15% beef in its meat content, and 63% chicken. And whilst they all tested for ‘regular’ farming meats, and none tested for horsemeat, it’s a worrying and dishonest trend.
The Pet Food Manufacturers Industry claim that, despite the fluctuation in meat levels, the nutritional levels do not change. However, this is still a worrying insight into the industry. Power is taken away from the consumer who can no longer make an informed choice on their pet food of choice.
According to TIME this could be an international problem, with the semantics in pet food legislation allowing for brands to continue to utilize certain loopholes. Similarly, pet food brands selling in the UK follow EU legislation, which can allow brands to be slightly sneakier when it comes to disclosing ingredients.
The dangers of misleading labeling
These labels could cause a lot of trouble, for both pets and their owners. Quite simply if this was food for human consumption such mislabeling wouldn’t be allowed. Professor Kin-Chow Chang, of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, said the research indicates a ‘considerable mismatch in the labeling standard of the pet food industry and what the purchaser would reasonably expect’. And this would be backed up by pet owners across the country. Some pets, like humans, can be allergic to certain ingredients and the mislabeling could be potentially dangerous.
But how can this be fixed? For starters, Professor Chang has called for greater transparency from brands so as to make their labels clearer. This will protect both the consumer and the pet from possible human misinterpretation of the labels. And from hereon perhaps legislation could be changed regarding food labeling.
However, the problem doesn’t simply end with pet food. Professional labeling is important for all products. Treating it simply as an afterthought, or by intentionally mislabeling them to hide certain information, can lead to quite serious problems further down the line. To create trust in your brand by the consumer, the company needs to be honest from the offset, and labeling is key to this. And as long as everything is clear on the product from the beginning, the company can enjoy a long-lasting relationship with the consumer, avoiding such scandals as the pet food industry is currently enduring.
Guest Writer for “Pet owners be aware of the label“:
Tammy Wiltshire works for the leading UK label manufacturer, Labelnet. Based in Ongar, Essex, Labelnet design and manufacture pet food labels as well as self-adhesive labels, swing tags and admission tickets.
A QUESTION FOR YOU:
Is what’s in your pet food important to you? Do you read the labels?
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