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Get The Facts: What’s Really in Pet Food

Updated May 2007

Plump whole chickens, choice cuts of beef, fresh grains, and all the wholesome nutrition your dog or cat will ever need.

These are the images pet food manufacturers promulgate through the media and advertising. This is what the $16.1 billion per year U.S. pet food industry wants consumers to believe they are buying when they purchase their products.

This report explores the differences between what consumers think they are buying and what they are actually getting. It focuses in very general terms on the most visible name brands — the pet food labels that are mass-distributed to supermarkets and discount stores — but there are many highly respected brands that may be guilty of the same offenses.

What most consumers don’t know is that the pet food industry is an extension of the human food and agriculture industries. Pet food provides a convenient way for slaughterhouse offal, grains considered “unfit for human consumption,” and similar waste products to be turned into profit. This waste includes intestines, udders, heads, hooves, and possibly diseased and cancerous animal parts. …/….

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Additives in Processed Pet Foods

Many chemicals are added to commercial pet foods to improve the taste, stability, characteristics, or appearance of the food. Additives provide no nutritional value. Additives include emulsifiers to prevent water and fat from separating, antioxidants to prevent fat from turning rancid, and artificial colors and flavors to make the product more attractive to consumers and more palatable to their companion animals.

A wide variety of additives are allowed in animal feed and pet food, not counting vitamins and minerals. Not all of them are actually used in pet food. Additives can be specifically approved, or they can fall into the category of “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS).

Anticaking agents – Antigelling agents – Antimicrobial agents – Antioxidants – Color additives – Condiments – Curing agents – Drying agents – Emulsifiers – Essential oils – Flavor enhancers – Flavoring agents – Grinding agents – Humectants – Leavening agents – Lubricants – Palatants – Pelleting agents and binders – Petroleum derivatives – pH control agents – Preservatives – Seasonings – Spices – Stabilizers – Sweeteners – Texturizers – Thickeners – Chemical vs. Natural – Preservatives

…/… more info on .bornfreeusa.org/facts.php?more=1&p=359.