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Are Your Pets Eating What You Think? Big Brands at Centre of the Pet Food Swindle

01 April 2015

ANALYSIS - Meat is big business and following the horse meat scandal of 2013, greater measures are now in place to ensure our food labels match the product we are buying, writes Gemma Hyland.

But what about our pet's food?

Research at the University of Nottingham shows many popular tinned foods contain meat not on the label, including pet food labelled as beef, which was actually up to 63 per cent chicken.

While no horse DNA was detected, a major finding was the relative abundance of proteins from unspecified animal species in 14 of the 17 products.

Amongst these 14 samples, cow, porcine and chicken DNA were found in various proportions and combinations but were not explicitly identified on the product labels.

Another six popular pet food labels that highlighted “chicken” or “with chicken” contained one per cent to 100 per cent of chicken DNA of which two products contained more pig or cow than chicken DNA.

pet foodWhilst the present practice in pet food labelling is within current regulatory guidelines, the findings highlighted weaknesses in product labelling that could adversely affect pets and their owner expectation.

Lead author Kin-Chow Chang from The University of Nottingham said: “It may be a surprise to shoppers to discover that prominently described contents such as ‘beef’ on a tin could, within the guidelines, be a minor ingredient, have no bovine skeletal muscle (meat) and contain a majority of unidentified animal proteins.

“There is a need for the pet food industry to show greater transparency to customers in the disclosure of the types of animal proteins in their products.

"Full disclosure of animal contents will allow more informed choices to be made on purchases which are particularly important for pets with food allergies, reduce the risk of product misinterpretation by shoppers, and avoid potential religious concerns.”

Gemma Hyland, Editor

Gemma Hyland, Editor

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