If you are a pet lover you are seeing more ‘human grade’ labels on pet food. Human grade…for dogs. As though human grade means something. Cheetos are human grade. So are pizza rolls. Did your eyes just glaze over there? Okay, but these human grade items aren’t even human. So don’t get all highfaluting that dogs are somehow getting in on your shtick, stealing your special food thunder. Is human grade dog food a thing or is it just marketing?
What is the Deal with Human Grade Dog Food?
Everyone wants to know what they are eating…until they don’t. I really want to know what’s in my Wendy’s Asian Cashew Salad, but you really don’t have to tell me what I’m eating when I elect to eat a potato chip. My guess is there’s very little potato in it. La la la la…ignorance is bliss. But ignorance can hurt you. Pet owner’s demands for more transparency has caused angst in the commercial dog food industry. What human grade really means is that it is fit for human consumption. But… I just told you that I, like you, would eat a potato chip. So really, is there a big difference?
What Does Human Grade Mean?
Human grade also means that the entire process has regulations to ensure strict standards for how the food is prepared – ensuring quality, cleanliness, and safety. In a nutshell, human grade also means that the food is prepared in a facility that complies with the FDA’s standards for human food. There are over 100 standards a food company must meet to receive the official “human grade” label. A pet food label might claim human-grade since they’re using USDA approved meat. But the meat may or may not be edible (e.g. human grade).
Is There A Dog Grade
Yup. There appears to be different regulations for pet food. These ‘regs’ (found in the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA)) focus on limiting adulteration and misbranding. The FDA ensures therapeutic claims (e.g. weight loss, cognition, etc.) and, along with the USDA, performs site and food inspections. The FDCA is designed to quash poisons and product found to injure a pet. If you really want to get the skinny on ‘dog-grade’, read this article, and this HHS Pet Food Label article, and the FDA’s Regulation on Pet Food report. In general, pet food is ‘feed’ quality – meaning the animal that comprises your dog’s dog food protein can eat the same dog food…and it’s not human-grade so you shouldn’t eat it. Is this the circle of nonsense? Maybe. One thing for sure, there’s plenty of room for antibiotics in this cow-eat-cow world. You don’t want to eat antibiotics by the way…and you don’t want your dog to eat them either.
Important Facts About Human Grade Dog Food
Human grade is not just a labeling term, and while you may see these words on pet foods…dig in. Read. Research. Understand if it is a marketing term or actually meets the FDA’s regulations on human food consumption. Do pet food companies want to cause your pet harm? No. I honestly believe that pet food companies care about pets. Keep in mind that it is a business, and they drive their price point to a location where the general public has tolerance. Meaning, most people grew up paying very little for their dog’s food (recall this?) and so to go from that to coming out of pocket for an official human grade dog food could be challenging. Remember, it’s not just about the ingredients…it’s about the whole system of the food (from preparation, packaging to distribution that must comply with human grade regulations). This is why most pet food companies settle for using human grade ingredients. Pet food is an evolution, and we’ve come a long way baby!
Tips for Getting Human Grade-Like Dog Food
Ideally you want to seek out companies who affiliate with human grade accreditation. When in doubt, make your own dog food and be in control of the quality of what your pup eats (we have some resources for you below). Make sure the first ingredient of the dog food you serve your pup has a high quality and well-sourced protein. Don’t accept a protein from a country you do not understand or condone their pet-food sourcing. Ideally, the first 1/3 – 1/2 of ingredients should be whole foods, not chemicals or names you can’t pronounce. We avoid ‘meal’ products such as poultry or corn meal, as they can include 4-D animals (dead, diseased, disabled or dying prior to slaughter), as well as by-products (hair, hoofs, etc.). We also avoid corn and soy ingredients. As I always say: go organic! Organics are growing in popularity in the pet food industry, and are a good way to ensure that your dog is getting whole foods good enough for you to eat!
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Food is one of the most important things we need to pay attention to when it comes to our dog, and ourselves. So is water. Food and water…simple things really. Isn’t it funny how simple things can get so darned convoluted? We’d love to know what you make of all of this human grade dog food labeling stuff – leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
Thanks for reading, and until next time – take care and keep on lovin’ your dog!