The Two Most Important Words of Pet Food Meat Ingredients

The Two Most Important Words of Pet Food Meat Ingredients


“And passed.” USDA inspected ‘and passed’. These two words are significantly important to finding a quality pet food.

Because all regulatory authorities (FDA and each State Department of Agriculture) allow condemned animals/animal parts into pet food…

Quoting FDA Compliance Policy Guides:

Pet food consisting of material from diseased animals or animals which have died otherwise than by slaughter…will be considered fit for animal consumption.

…consumers are forced into becoming Pet Food Private Investigators. One of the most important tasks to discover about their pet’s food is quality of ingredients.

Ask your pet food manufacturer: Are meat ingredients USDA inspected and passed? Or you could ask: Are meat ingredients human edible?

As simple as the question is, in most cases the pet food manufacturer response is not so simple.

Some pet food manufacturers will respond with: ‘Yes, all of our meat ingredients are sourced from USDA inspected facilities.’

This does not answer your question. Condemned meats are sourced ‘from USDA facilities’. You can ask again reminding them your question was specific to the meat ingredients, not the facility they came from.

Some pet food manufacturers will tell consumers it is illegal for any pet food manufacturer to claim ingredients are human edible, explaining to an unknowing consumer that when any pet food ingredient enters a pet food facility it is considered feed grade and is no longer human edible.

This response is in part true. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the governing body over meat and all foods containing more than 3% meat…excluding pet food. In human foods, meats and foods containing more than 3% meat are required to be processed under USDA inspection – this provides the consumer with a level of assurance the ingredients abide by law. But because pet foods fall under FDA jurisdiction, they are NOT required to be processed under USDA inspection (unless they are Human Grade pet foods). The USDA and FDA don’t work together (often), thus the USDA refuses to allow inspected and passed meat ingredients to be classified as USDA inspected and passed unless they are destined for a USDA regulated food manufacturing facility – which pet food manufacturing facilities are not.

But…the part of this response that can be questioned is: Regardless to this jurisdiction battle between USDA and FDA, the meats that end up in pet food remain either inspected and passed or not inspected/passed. The pet food manufacturer invoice receipts declare if the meats purchased are USDA inspected and passed or not inspected/passed – and the consumer deserves to know which is in their pet’s food. If your pet food manufacturer gives you this response, follow up with a question such as: I understand that the USDA does not allow the claim of USDA inspected and passed to be used outside of a USDA inspected facility, but when you purchase the ingredients…prior to their arrival at your pet food manufacturing facility…were those meat ingredients USDA inspected and passed? Do your invoice receipts state edible meats or inedible?

And even though the knowledge to whether your pet’s food contains quality USDA inspected and passed meats or not is significantly important to the health of your pet, unfortunately consumers have little means to verify what a manufacturer tells them. Consumers have the right to ask for verification to quality of meat ingredients (such as a copy of invoice receipts), but it is doubtful that many will provide it. A few willingly and openly provide any verification you ask for, but most refuse. Consumers are expected to trust them.

Personal note: I’ve asked for verification to quality of ingredients from many pet food manufacturers over the years of doing this work. When companies refuse to provide the information – claiming it is proprietary – my thoughts are: they don’t trust me with their proprietary information, but I am expected to trust them with my pet’s life. Not a fair exchange of trust in my opinion.

For those that have difficulty trusting their pet’s life to a food without quality of ingredient verification, your other option is Human Grade pet foods. Human Grade pet foods are held to the same manufacturing standards as human food – manufactured at a facility under constant USDA inspection, 100% of ingredients including supplements are human edible. Consumers CAN trust the claim of ‘Human Grade’ on a pet food label – regulatory authorities scrutinize the claim of Human Grade on pet food labels. Consumers CANNOT trust the claim of ‘Human Grade’ on a pet food website. Unfortunately, regulatory authorities do not scrutinize claims on pet food websites – many pet food websites make misleading/false claims.

Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
Association for Truth in Pet Food

The Two Most Important Words of Pet Food Meat Ingredients
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The Two Most Important Words of Pet Food Meat Ingredients

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