Pet Food Survey 2017 shows scary results

In a most recent study done on pet food THE CLEAN LABEL PROJECT analysed over 1000 pet food products from 74 of the top selling brands - as reported by Nielsen for 2016, and the outcome was scary.  But what does all of this mean to our pets and their health in South Africa?

One of the results show that there is 1917% more arsenic in certain pet foods compared to cigarette tobacco. 

What on earth is going on with the pet food industry?  Who is regulating this and why are these contaminants allowed?  The biggest concern lies within the question that who are these regulatory bodies managed/owned by?

Whilst this is a study for the American pet food market, Pet Health Care noticed that there are some (imported) brands that we source in South Africa too and it comes with great concern, but to no surprise either.  While the competition grows daily in the lucrative pet food industry, the demand for healthier options are rising at a steady pace.  We have contacted CLP and asked if there is any chance of them also testing more locally produced products and brands.  As soon as we receive feedback, we will be sharing their outcome with you.  Make sure you have subscribed to our Newsletter, to stay in touch.

The Clean Label Project reports: Richard Vigil, Lab Director, Ellipse Analytics comments:

"Over my career as a chemist, I have tested tens of thousands of consumer products. 
I have never seen industrial and environmental contaminants this high.

The research was based on 130 toxins found in pet food, and these toxic contaminants all have a direct link to the dreaded disease Cancer, showing that now on average 1 in 2 pets will get Cancer in their lifetime.

Here are some of their findings (compared to average levels and standards):

  • 'Grain-Free' had higher toxin levels.
  • Certain Dry Cat Foods: Arsenic 13 x higher than average
  • Certain Dry Dog Food: Arsenic 7.5 x higher than average
  • Certain Wet Cat Food: Mercury 193 x higher than average
  • Certain Wet Dog Food: Arsenic 24 x higher than average

Major products that stood out for us on the worst toxic levels were IAMS, Orijen, Acana and Purina. 

It was also evident that while these brands do not have all their products in the 'bad' category, this should be a massive wake up call to both the producers of these products and their faithful clients who adore their 'brands'.

Does this test have anything to do with the nutritional value of the food?

No, the nutritional values are not part of this survey.

Is buying the most expensive product on the shelf really the best?

Well, according to The Clean Label Project's study, the answer is yes and no.  The bottom line is that cheap is not always the worst product and expensive not necessarily the best for your pet either.  Good marketing, and fun packaging, can be misleading to the consumers.  We are all fans of a well packaged product, but so we always know what it contains or where it is sourced from?

How does this pet food product rating work according to the Clean Label Project?

The five star system is their way of telling you how contaminated your pet’s food is compared to the rest of the products they tested. "The stars are not arbitrary, but the result of a carefully developed system. We developed this system in conjunction with data scientists, veterinarians, chemists and using survey data from over a thousand consumers just like you to synthesize the thousands of data-points collected on each product to make it easier to interpret and use the data in a meaningful way. Our system is designed to save time — distilling thousands of pieces of information into a single rating."

Here’s how Clean Label Project do their star ratings: they 'grade on the curve,' which means that they decided to base their star system on how well a product fared compared to the rest of the products. A five star product, then, will have lower overall contaminant levels compared to three star products. A three star product, in turn, will have lower contaminant levels than a one star product. How much lower? Check out their graphs and see for yourself!

74 American Brands Tested and Mentioned in this Survey:

9 Lives, Acana, American Farms, Artemis, Authority, Bil-Jac, Blue Dog Bakery, Canidae, Canine Carry Outs, Catswell, Cesar, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Country Value, Diamond, Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance, Dingo, Dogswell, Eagle Pack, Earthborn Holistic, Feline Holistic Select, Freshpet, Fromm, Full Moon, Goodlife, Gravy Train, Greenies, Halo, Henne Pet Food, Hill’s Science Diet, Hi-Tek Rations, Holistic Select, I and Love and You, Iams, Kibbles ‘n Bits, Lotus, Meaty Bone, Meow Mix, Milk-Bone, Milo’s Kitchen, Nature’s Logic, Nature’s Variety, Newman’s Own, Nudges, Nulo, Nunn-Better, NutriSource, Nutro, Old Mother Hubbard, Open Farm, Orijen, Pedigree, Petcurean, Pounce, Premium Edge, Primal Pet Foods, Professional +, Pup-Peroni, Purina, Rachael Ray Nutrish, SmallBatch Pets, SmartBones, Snausages, Sojos, Solid Gold, Stella & Chewy’s, The Honest Kitchen, Three Dog Bakery, TimberWolf, TruDog, Wellness, Whiskas


  • Toxic Metals (Arsenic, Cadmium, Chromium, Lead, Mercury and Nickel)
  • Antibiotic-residues
  • 60+ pesticide residues
  • Melamine
  • Mycotoxins
  • Acrylamides

Get your Pet Food Product Certified:  Apply Now

What can you do to help your pets with these findings today?

  1. Ask Your Vet to do a toxin blood test on your pet today.
  2. Sign the Clean Label Project Petition :
    "We want Toxin Transparency."  Tell the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) consumers have a right to know what is in the food we feed our pets.

Sign the Petition

Are these Pet Food Manufacturers really the bad guys out there?

The pet food organisations do go to great lengths to provide quality products, and it can often be that the contamination is out of their hands, which occur after production, maybe during transportation, storage or due to packaging issues.  This research is vitally important to create awareness and encourage the pet food manufacturers for stricter control measures, so to avoid these contaminations as much as possible.

What is the best and worst product findings

of this American Pet Food Product survey?




What can you do to help your pets eat good healthy food?

Well, warning bells are sounding, and brands follow the demand of the end-user.  Support research of product contamination by encouraging the highest standards for our beloved pets. 

  1. The longer the shelf life of a product, the worse it is for the body, anybody
  2. Cook your pets' home-cooked meals.
  3. If you purchase imported branded pet food, then support this research and ask for them to test your choice of pet food too.
  4. Share this knowledge with your friends on social media.

Dogs and cats, like humans are suffering from dreaded diseases like cancer and obesity that is growing at an alarming rate. While PetHealthCare is in no position to advocate a local or imported brand without the proper research done locally, we can share and communicate vital information that is made public for your information.  We are looking for an organisation that can help with a similar project in South Africa, to help with analysing, but we can only with confidence share with you what the findings are of other legitimate research projects.  

The power is in the consumers' hands and the choice is yours.

Wishing you and your pets a happy and healthy future together.

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