I’m passionate about species-appropriate feline nutrition, and have written extensively about the topic. I maintain a small list of brands of raw or grain-free canned food that I’m comfortable recommending after doing thorough research. These are brands that I either currently feed Allegra and Ruby, or have fed them in the past.
The pet food industry, like the food industry in general, is not known for its transparency, so it can be difficult to obtain accurate and current information. This is why I’m so appreciative of organizations like the Cornucopia Institute, whose mission is to provide information to family farmers, consumers and other stakeholders in the good food movement. While their focus is on promoting justice for family scale farming, the work they do benefits the health of all living beings, from humans to animals to plants.
The Cornucopia Institute just released a new report that exposes serious problems in pet food industry regulations and how specific loopholes allow for the use of questionable ingredients that could negatively impact companion animal health. The report accuses some brands of using cheap ingredients, carcinogenic additives, and preservatives that are bad for long-term pet health, as well as attempting to intentionally deceive consumers with pet food labels.
The report contains important information for every cat guardian. I’d like to highlight some of the report’s findings today:
- As with people in the US, the most common causes of death for both cats and dogs include diseases associated with poor diet, such as obesity, heart disease, gastrointestinal disease, and cancer.
- In many cases, consumers get what they pay for, but price doesn’t always indicate high quality.
- Different brands are owned by a few multi-national corporations, and nearly identical food is merely packaged differently.
- Many premium pet food manufacturers do not own their own production facilities and contract with co-packers that produce low quality foods.
- Legislation and regulatory oversight of pet food is aimed at the feed industry.
- Pet food is highly processed, often resulting in hidden and questionable ingredients.
- Ingredient labeling can be confusing.
You can read the complete report here. The report also includes an eye-opening buyer’s guide, which explains what to watch for when companies get creative with marketing and labeling.
I found it particularly poignant that the report is dedicated to Moe, a beautiful grey cat who Cornucopia co-founder Mark Kastel adopted about ten years ago. When Moe had a crisis with a urinary tract blockage, he was put on a canned high carb low calorie prescription diet. Mark was concerned about putting him on conventional (non-organic) food. Ironically, just as the Cornucopia Institute began its research into the risks of carrageenan in human diets, Moe began having gastrointestinal problems. Mark looked at his food and discovered that it was loaded with carrageenan. Sadly, Moe succumbed to intestinal lymphoma. Mark dedicated the report do Moe’s memory in hopes that it will spur changes in the pet food industry.