The Importance of Transparency in the Pet Industry
Transparency is a buzzword that has been used frequently in recent years, especially by companies within the pet industry. However, it’s important to note that transparency is not just a feel-good term – it’s a crucial aspect that should be present in all pet products, including food and supplements. The lack of transparency in the pet industry can have severe consequences for both pets and their owners.
The Dangers of Poor Transparency
Many pet products, including food and supplements, lack transparency, quality control, and accountability. This means that there may be toxins, poor sourcing, and formulation errors that can potentially harm pets. In the past, there have been recalls of pet food and supplements due to vitamin D and melamine recalls, pathogen recalls, and other contamination and formulation issues.
The Lack of Accountability and Standards in the Pet Industry
Pet food and supplement manufacturers often cut corners and do not do their due diligence because there are no set standards and accountability measures in place. Major organizations such as the FDA, AAFCO, WSAVA, and PNA have minimal standards, and these standards can be influenced by corporate funding. As a result, it’s often difficult for these organizations to police everyone all the time.
There are minimal requirements for foods, supplements, and other pet products to come to market. Some organizations allow these products to come to market without any adequacy testing, digestibility, or feeding trials. Unfortunately, animals often become sick or die before red flags are raised and an investigation is initiated. This underscores the need for more transparency and accountability in the pet industry.
Ask Questions Verifying Pet Food Quality:
- Do you conduct a 3rd party nutrition analysis on all of your finished products?
- Do your products meet an AAFCO profile?
- Are you willing to provide a copy of that analysis? Note that most companies are deceptive and provide Target analysis, which is predicted. This does not equal a typical analysis, be careful
- Do you conduct 3rd party digestibility studies for each of your formulas?
- Do you make those publicly available?
- Do you source any ingredients from China? Are you willing to provide certificates of origin?
- Note that ingredients from China are not necessarily bad as long as they are well-sourced, they are ensuring and verifying quality and purity via analysis and contamination testing.
- Do you complete analysis of your final product to ensure the formulation is correct and ensure there are not any contamination issues?
Keep in mind that digestibility and typical nutrient analysis mean nothing without the other. Digestibility shows the amount of nutrients absorbed. The analysis shows the amount of nutrients contained within a product.
Beware of the word proprietary – this does not hold a strong argument and may imply a lack of testing, or inadequate testing.
Ask Questions Verifying Supplement Quality:
When looking for any supplement for yourself or your pets you must ask the manufacturing company the following questions:
- Do you inbound test your raw and/or concentrated ingredients for contaminants such as heavy metals, fertilizers, and other agricultural chemicals?
- Do you test your ingredients, specifically active ingredients to ensure their concentrations are correct?
- Do you source any ingredients from China?
- Are you willing to provide certificates of origin?
- Note that ingredients from China are not necessarily bad as long as they are well-sourced and they are verifying quality and purity.
- Do you complete analysis of your final product to ensure the formulation is correct and ensure there are not any contamination issues? This is important to ensure that active ingredients match the label.
- Are you willing to provide an analysis for each lot/batch of your final product?
- Do your company and products meet requirements to utilize the NASC (National Animal Supplement Council) seal?
- I would not recommend supplement companies that are not members of the NASC, especially CBD companies.
Advice to Consumers
This is not a comprehensive list by any stretch. The key take away is that consumers should start asking questions of manufacturers in order to encourage change. The reality is that very few companies can answer these questions because most do not adequately test their products at all stages. By opening up a dialogue about the importance of doing so can help prevent future issues within the industry.
If companies are unwilling to transparently answer these questions or use the excuse of information being proprietary I would strongly suggest that you find another brand. Not being transparent or testing products when it comes to ensuring safety is unacceptable. Brands that are not meeting these standards could potentially be poisoning the market for other companies who do their due diligence. As consumers demand better.
About the Author: Nicole Cammack
Nicci is the owner of award-winning NorthPoint Pets & Company, in Connecticut. She is also the Founder & CEO of Undogmatic Inc. Her undergraduate and graduate education includes biology, chemistry, business, and nutrition. She has worked in the pharmaceutical industry on multiple R&D projects and has had the privilege to learn from leading international figures in the human and pet health industry. She regularly lectures at national conferences, including federal, state, and municipal K9 events. Her current research involves identifying pathogenic risk factors and transmission among raw fed pets through a comprehensive worldwide survey.