Commercial Pet Food In The U.S.
Commercial pet food in the U.S. is relatively young, which is surprising when you consider the vast and confusing array of pet food
offerings available on the market. Also, commercial pet food in the U.S. has only been around for about 60 years thus has experienced
most of its growth spurt in just the last 30 years.
Before analyzing the regulation of pet food it is worth noting the development of the industry over the last 100 years. Prior to the
introduction of commercial pet food, dogs ate table scraps salvaged from their human companions.
Cats, kept for their rodent hunting abilities, mostly subsisted on their own kills.
Companion animals survived for decades on these diets.
The First Commercial Pet Food
the first commercial dog food, a biscuit, in 1860.
While a salesman in London, Spratt noticed dogs on
the docks being fed with left over biscuits from
the ship’s that came into port.
In 1890 his formula and production were taken over by a large company which then began
operations in the United States.
During the 1980’s the pet food industry’s monstrous profits diminished when inflation
During the 80’s, the revelation that the world’s food supply was lagging behind
Why Does Pet Food Cost so Much?
Consumers began wondering why they were paying so much money for their pets’ food
when there might not be sufficient food for humans. This forced a once booming industry
to defend the need for its products. Ironically, this meant that instead of selling their products
as “fit for humans” complete with peas and carrots in canned dog foods, the industry began
insisting that their“principal ingredients are not suitable for human use.”
The industry and its regulators continue to claim that commercial pet foods are safe for human consumption.
The fact is, they are ingested by some humans. Any assertion that the main ingredients are not “suitable”
for humans appears hypocritical. Unfortunately, the pet food industry survived the 80’s relatively
unscathed and continues to thrive today.
To learn the shocking ingredients that are put in commercial pet foods
Contradictory Information from the FFDCA
In fact, despite never reforming, the industry currently enjoys annual sales of over $13 billion world wide.
The success of the pet food industry should not in and of itself trouble consumers. Consumer concern should
focus on the inadequate regulatory regime that the industry has established and maintained.
Because of that, defenseless pets are paying the price and unsuspecting owners paying avoidable vet bills.
Pet food, like human food, is regulated under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (hereinafter “FFDCA”).
The FFDCA defines food as “articles used for food or drink for man or other animals…” and requires that all foods be
free of adulteration and mis-branding. Without further analysis, one could conclude from this definition that all pet foods
are regulated and approved for human consumption.
This could not be further from the truth.
In fact, the website of the Center for Veterinary Medicine states that “animal feeds provide a practical outlet for plant and
animal byproducts not suitable for human consumption,” a statement seemingly contradictory to the regulations of the
FFDCA, which apply equally to human and animal foods.
The ASPCA handles over 160,000 animal poison related emergencies annually.
To see Recalls and Alerts of Pet Foods click here