Pet Food Labeling
Big, Big, Big News that will benefit every pet owner!
Yippee! Yahoo! A big step towards truth in pet food labeling has happened!
The Honest Kitchen pet food company has won a six month lawsuit against the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Ohio denied Honest Kitchen a license to sell its products in the state, citing the product labels were misleading because they describe the company’s pet food as “human food grade.”
The court ruled in favor of The Honest Kitchen citing the company’s right to truthful, commercial free speech. Yippee! Ohio Department of Agriculture acknowledged that the products were human food grade, yet claimed that stating the fact on the labels “could be confusing to customers who might be unable to determine if the diets were intended for animals or humans.” Oh please! I can spot a pet food industry cover up a mile off – and besides, haven’t there been reports for years of humans eating pet food?
This is a very big first! The Honest Kitchen has managed to pry open (more like force open with a sledge hammer) a door that has been solidly closed from the beginning of commercial pet food. Just imagine…if you walked down a pet food aisle, and you see 25 products all stating those famous tag lines of ‘Premium’ or ‘Choice’ – and then you see five or six pet foods that say ‘All Human Grade Ingredients’. That would sure make a decision on which pet food to buy a little easier! It is a great beginning to what all pet owners deserve to know.
On the flip side of this – as my last email to you noted – even though this IS a tremendous step forward, next we will have to be aware if the manufacturer is being honest in their human grade claims. Eagle Pack pet food told me that their products use only US ingredients. Yet as I discovered yesterday – their website stated the opposite. However as a recent newsletter and Petsumer subscriber reminded me of in email correspondence – ‘if they put it in writing’ – human grade or all US ingredients on the label in writing – then we will have some very firm ground to stand on if their claims turn out to be false.
I’m going to remain thrilled that this step has taken place. It is HUGE. And I’m going to urge you to call your State Department of Agriculture and ask for the same changes to take place in your state. But let me give you a little more information first. To back up a little and give you a better understanding – here is exactly how pet food rules and regulations work. AAFCO – American Association of Feed Control Officials – and their advisory boards (made up mostly of representatives of the Pet Food Institute – all the big manufacturers) develop all the industry’s guidelines – nutritional guidelines, labeling requirements, ingredient definitions, and so forth. These guidelines are ONLY recommended to the Department of Agriculture of each state in the US. Most states accept their guidelines word for word and implement them as law. As with this case in Ohio. (Expressing an opinion here – this way everyone has an excuse…AAFCO isn’t held accountable because they only ‘recommend’ the guidelines’ and each state can use the excuse that ‘AAFCO told us to’.) AAFCO ‘guidelines’ do NOT allow “any reference to quality or grade of ingredients”.
If you want to bend an ear or two on this issue (please, please do!) – here’s what I suggest. For one, call your State Department of Agriculture and tell them you would like your state to amend the AFFCO guideline and allow a pet food label to provide a reference to quality or grade of ingredients. And please – also share that you would also like country of origin of ingredients posted on the label as well! I’d also suggest you call or email AAFCO (http://www.aafco.org) and share the same. And please share this issue with any media in your town. Call your local newspaper, television, talk radio – and tell them you need their help to bring this issue into the public awareness and to help to make changes in pet food labeling (don’t forget about country of origin of ingredients!). Share with media this link to the press release –
Or you can go to www.prnewswire.com – and type in the search for Honest Kitchen pet food – you’ll get to the same press release.
This is a very real opportunity for us – please help by making a few phone calls to keep the ball rolling. I would love to see the few manufacturers that do use all human grade/US only ingredients to band together and legally approach each state and make the same changes that Honest Kitchen did in Ohio. I hope they are listening!
OK, one more thing – different subject. Below is an email sent to me this morning (warning – it made me cry as it probably will you – but it’s very sweet)…It came with a photo of the little girl hugging her dog which I did not publish…
Our 14 year old dog, Abbey, died last month. The day after she died, my 4 year old daughter Meredith was crying and talking about how much she missed Abbey. She asked if we could write a letter to God so that when Abbey got to heaven, God would recognize her. I told her that I thought we could so she dictated these words:
Will you please take care of my dog? She died yesterday and is with you in heaven. I miss her very much. I am happy that you let me have her as my dog even though she got sick.
I hope you will play with her. She likes to play with balls and to swim. I am sending a picture of her so when you see her. You will know that she is my dog. I really miss her.
We put the letter in an envelope with a picture of Abbey and Meredith and addressed it to God/Heaven. We put our return address on it. Then Meredith pasted several stamps on the front of the envelope because she said it would take lots of stamps to get the letter all the way to heaven. That afternoon she dropped it into the letter box at the post office. A few days later, she asked if God had gotten the letter yet. I told her that I thought He had.
Yesterday, there was a package wrapped in gold paper on our front porch addressed, ‘To Meredith,’ in an unfamiliar hand. Meredith opened it. Inside was a book by Mr. Rogers called, ‘When a Pet Dies.’ Taped to the inside front cover was the letter we had written to God in its opened envelope. On the opposite page was the picture of Abbey & Meredith and this note:
Abbey arrived safely in heaven.
Having the picture was a big help. I recognized Abbey right away.
Abbey isn’t sick anymore. Her spirit is here with me just like it stays in your heart. Abbey loved being your dog. Since we don’t need our bodies in heaven, I don’t have any pockets to keep your picture in, so I am sending it back to you in this little book for you to keep and have something to remember Abbey by.
Thank you for the beautiful letter and thank your mother for helping you write it and sending it to me. What a wonderful mother you have. I picked her especially for you.
I send my blessings every day and remember that I love you very much.
By the way, I am wherever there is love.
Wishing you and your pet the best,
Truth About Pet Food
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