I'm mindful that this latest blog is going to a mud-slinger. There's no escaping that the research that I'm going to be presenting in this article wont be painting supermarket pet foods in the greatest of lights.
But that doesn't mean we should shy away from saying the truth. So here goes...
3 examples of supermarket pet food that we've checked the ingredients on and our verdicts.
Before we kick off with the list, a few things to note:
The ingredient with the highest percentage within the contents as a whole is listed first. Look out for sneaky ways that the manufacturer will split out elements of the same ingredient in order for something else to jump over it in the list. For example, if the total percentage of 'maize' is 30%, they may list it as 'maize grain', 'maize gluten' and 'maize flour' meaning that the individual items will appear lower down the list than something that is perhaps at 20%. It's a sneaky way of getting a filler ingredient to not appear so significant within the whole product.
Is the text in the tiniest font? Hidden in with other information? Surrounded by versions in other languages? Then they don't want you to find the ingredients easily! A good manufacturer will be proud of their ingredients and will ensure that you can see them easily.
Broad Ingredient terms
Look out for terms like 'oils' or 'fats'. What oils? Animal or vegetable? What fats? Typical examples of this are:
Cereals, Oils, Fats, Meat Meal, Meat and Animal Derivatives, Derivatives of vegetable origin, Vegetable protein extracts, Artificial colourings/flavourings, Insect Meal.
If the product contains these sorts of terms, it's because the manufacturer either a) doesn't want you to know the specifics or b) because the actual ingredients may vary from batch to batch. These sorts of ingredients are a nightmare as they are very inconsistent despite appearances. If you are trying to avoid a particular meat, you may not be able to do so if these are the listed ingredients.
What it says on the front of the pack and what it may actually be.
Taken from the FDIAF*: "The 4% declaration is a legal labelling requirement which represents the minimum percentage content of the named ingredient, for example chicken, that is guaranteed to be present by the manufacturer."
In other words, despite what it may say on the front of the pack, only 4% needs to be the stated meat.
TESCO COMPLETE DOG FOOD
Cereals, Meat and Animal Derivatives (4% Chicken in the Red and Brown Components), Derivatives of Vegetable Origin, Oils and Fats, Various Sugars, Vegetable Protein Extracts, Minerals, Vegetables (4% Vegetables in the Brown Components), Yeasts, Colourants, Preservatives, Antioxidants 125mg/kg.
Our Verdict: 0/10
It might actually be an ok dog food, but due to the non-verifiable ingredients and flakey terms, we can't be sure. And it's not just one vague ingredient... the majority of ingredients are vague in this bag. Plus, it has colourings. Why are they in there? Dogs are not able to see colours like we do, so this ingredient is in there just for the human owners' benefit, not for the dogs' benefit.
Asda Hero Adult Tins with Meaty Chunks In Jelly
Meat and Animal Derivatives (4% Beef), Cereals Vegetable Protein Extracts, Minerals, Oils and Fats (minimum 0.35% Fish Oil), Various Sugars, Derivatives of Vegetable Origin (0.1% Chicory).
Our Verdict: 1/10
I think I'm being kind with a 1/10 rating, but this is fractionally better than the Tesco's food on the basis that the meat (undefined) ingredient is higher up the list than the cereals. Similar to the Tesco food though, the ingredients are vague and likely to be inconsistent between batches.
Sainsbury's Farmhouse Kitchen Pate with Chicken & Turkey
Meat and Animal Derivatives (60% including 4% Chicken, 4% Turkey), Minerals, Oils and Fats, Various Sugars, Derivatives of Vegetable Origin.
Our Verdict: 2.5/10
Vague ingredients in a very short ingredient list don't say much about what is truly in the tray, but at least they declare the meat content as a percentage, so they get a couple of points for that!
Seen a pet food that you would like us to review? Email us at email@example.com
*FEDIAF is the trade body representing the European pet food industry.