If you want to upgrade your pet's nutrition, start by looking at the packaging. Do you see 'Made in the USA' on there? 'Made in the USA' is a powerful designation that means the product has been created to high safety standards, and all or most of the ingredients are from here in the USA. If you still aren't sure about paying a little extra for quality pet food, read on.
The High Cost of Cheap Ingredients
Where your pet food ingredients come from matters. In fact, it can be a matter of life or death. In 2007, there were several incidences of pets becoming sick or dying from contaminated pet food. Some pet food companies were attempting to cut production costs by using rice and wheat imported from China. There, the government doesn't apply the same regulation for food quality as we do here in the USA. The food had melamine contamination that was added by Chinese manufacturers to increase the protein content results. Melamine is a chemical commonly used in manufacturing plastic products. It's toxic when ingested. Around the same period of time, there was a deadly dog jerky treat outbreak. Over 5000 animals became sick and 1000+ beloved animals died over the five years that these products were on the market before being recalled. Many pet food product manufacturers were finally forced to recall their products years later, despite the number of customer complaints and sick and dying animals that were reported over the years. Incidences like these have been tragedies for the pet owners. Now, consumers have lost trust in imported ingredients. They are looking for a healthy, safe solution is Made in the USA products.
What Does 'Made in the USA' Labeling Mean?
This label is about much more than simply stating where an ingredient comes from. It also describes the growth, harvesting, and manufacturing process. Food that isn't made in the USA may not be unhealthy ... but you'll never know for sure. Other countries have their own food safety standards which can be very different from those in the USA. They don't face oversight or any civil or criminal penalties for breaking US laws and safety regulations.
When you see 'Made in the USA' on a label, this means the product has been regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in both human and pet food. To earn this label, all or virtually all the product has to be made in the United States. This could include the packaging, the ingredients, and where it's produced. The label means that the pet food meets US safety standards and monitoring at every step.
Don’t Be Fooled by Pet Food Labels
Some companies may try to fool you into thinking their product is made in the USA product by employing tricks such as putting a picture of an American flag on the bag without explicitly stating that it is made here. Take another look at the label on your bag of pet food. Here's what you want to look at to verify Made in the USA status.
- "Manufactured by."This label indicates who is responsible for the food's quality and safety during manufacturing. It should also say where the product was produced.
- "Manufactured for" or "Distributed by."This means that the food was manufactured by a different party than the one selling it. This could be, for example, a central manufacturing facility that provides the food sold by several labels. In contrast, companies that use their own facilities have more control over ingredients and how they're processed. They can also set higher quality control standards and make sure that every batch meets those standards.
- "Based" or "Developed."These are red flags, and it would be wise to contact the manufacturer to figure out who is making the food and where.
Feed-Grade vs Human-Grade Ingredients
Having USA sourced ingredients is a great start, but it doesn't tell the full story. Some pet food manufacturers use 'feed-grade' ingredients. The problem with these ingredients is that feed-grade ingredients are held to significantly lower, looser safety standards. Pet food is considered feed and is legally allowed to contain some question items. That's why the healthiest pet food not only has a Made in the USA label but also uses human-grade ingredients.
Why Choose Steve's Real Food?
Steve's Real Food has more than two decades of experience in making high-quality pet foods. We source our ingredients in the US from USDA approved farms that humanely raise free-range animals. The raw meat we use is processed in the same facility as human food and 100% free of added hormones and antibiotics. Our fruit and vegetable ingredients are also locally sourced here in the US and are pesticide-free.
To find out more about our company policies on quality ingredients and origin disclosures, read our pledge here.