How Natural is Fido’s All-Natural Petfood?

December 19, 2015

An article appearing in the December, 2015, issue of “Pet Product News” emphasizes a problem facing pet food consumers today. Author Anthony Bennie of Clear Conscience Pet raises a timely question: “If virtually every product in pet nutrition calls itself ‘all natural, how can this designation continue to be meaningful?'”

Mr. Bennie’s company, Clear Conscience Pet, is known as a “Clean Label” operation. Anthony describes a clean label food product as one where “ingredients are familiar to consumers as foods or whole foods components; they are pronounceable, and the sheer number of ingredients is greatly reduced.”

In short, if you pick up a pet product bearing the Clean Label certification, you won’t need a translator to understand the ingredients.

Unfortunately, most pet food manufacturers are not transparent with their ingredient labels. It is often difficult to know if a product truly is natural because of all the additions to the label that mean nothing to the average consumer. In truth, many brands that claim to be all-natural really are not.

Look on the shelves at your grocery or big box pet store and you’ll find that most every pet food or pet treat brand advertises their “new” all-natural food for Fido and Fluffy. But are they really natural? Let’s look at Luvsome Naturals.

The company says their Luvsome Natural Dog Food contains “High quality protein from chicken meal” and beef meal and that it is “complemented with wholesome whole grains like wheat and rice and packed with essential vitamins and minerals to provide optimum nutrition for your dog with no added artificial flavors.”  Sounds ok, right?  Now, we’ll break down their ingredients. (You can read my full review of 2 Luvsome dog foods here.)

The first ingredient is corn, not meat. The 5th ingredient is corn gluten meal followed by animal fat. We can stop right there. Aside from the fact that corn causes an allergy threat to some dogs, most of the corn grown in the United States today is genetically modified. What’s natural about that? Corn is sprayed with a chemical pesticide as it is grown.  How is that natural?

Animal fat comes from rendered by-products that may contain euthanized animals from vet clinics or spoiled and outdated restaurant meat (including the packaging) or even road kill.  Read here for more on the rendering process.

The next ingredients on the Luvsome Naturals package are soybean meal, another GMO plant; Brewer’s rice, which is basically a waste product from the beer brewing industry and serves no real purpose in the food; and lastly, a group of vitamins. The addition of vitamins does not magically change this food into an all-natural dog food.

More honesty and clarity is needed from pet food manufacturers, so that consumers can easily decipher the ingredient labels. Manufacturers should embrace the Clean Label concept or something like it for their natural products. Then we would know exactly what we are buying.

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