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- Dog food is labeled human-grade if it has ingredients fit for human consumption and meets manufacturing and packaging regulations.
- According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), there is no real legal definition for the term “human-grade”.
- Not all human-grade food is safer and healthier for dogs.
Today, with the many types and features of dog food, most of our focus shifts to human-grade options; but exactly what is human-grade dog food? According to AAFCO, there’s really no legal definition for the term, but a dog food should be labeled human grade if it uses ingredients edible for humans as well as if it has passed standard regulations.
Human-grade dog food is one of the most prominent trends in the pet industry, along with things like gently cooked food and raw diets. I myself consider it a plus if a fresh dog food delivery service offers human-grade options compared to feed-grade pet foods. For me, it simply ensures that my dogs are eating high-quality food, especially if they are also checked by veterinary nutritionists. There’s a growing paradigm among pet parents that their pets’ food should be subject to the same quality standards holding human food producers accountable. But how does the label of “human grade” really affect the quality of your dog’s food?
While the notion of human-grade meat may invoke images such as grass-fed beef, a USDA-inspected facility, and whole food ingredients, the reality can be quite far from that. Let’s explore what exactly human-grade dog food is and what effect it has on your pet’s food.
Defining “human grade”
Generally, pet foods are stamped “human grade” when the FDA (or an equivalent authority for other countries) applies the standards used to mark food products as safe for human consumption to dog food. However, there is no real legal definition for the term, according to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). All you need to be able to mark dog food “human grade” is by only making use of pet food ingredients that are edible to humans.
Human grade pet food can be thought of as an answer to growing concerns that traditional dog food is made with poor-quality ingredients. With human grade ingredients, pet owners can be sure that the dog food they buy is protected by the same quality control that ensures the safety of human food. This is exactly what they do over at The Farmer’s Dog, a pet food delivery service that makes customized, human-grade meals.
Does human grade mean safer or healthier?
Most pet owners know that plenty of human foods aren’t a good fit for animals, and so naturally one would be inclined to think that just because something is human grade doesn’t mean it’s automatically safer and healthier.
You’d be right to think that, and most vets agree that human-grade pet foods can be better than ordinary pet food, but only because of the safety standards imposed on human food production. How wholesome it is for your dog is another story. With the leading fresh dog food brands today, however, you can rest assured that quality and safety is taken care of as most of them are created by vet nutritionists and follows AAFCO guidelines.
The average pet food plant will often make use of poorer quality ingredients and aggressive methods in order to make their production processes as efficient as possible. This is very apparent in the production of dry dog food such as extruded kibble. Contrast that with human food production, which at the very least follows a baseline of standards set by authorities such as the FDA to make sure that the product are as safe as possible for human consumption.
Are There Any Benefits to Human-Grade Dog Food?
While it’s true that human-grade dog foods aren’t automatically better than non-human grade dog food, they do have some inherent benefits that make the label worth looking out for if you’re in the market for a new brand of pet food.
The first benefit, as was mentioned above, is that human grade dog food tends to be subjected to more stringent standards when it comes to the quality of the ingredients involved. Pet food manufacturers take more care in selecting the cuts of meat, vegetables, grains, and other ingredients. As opposed to feed grade dog food, which often uses ingredients that have been rejected for poor quality to cut down on production costs. Learn more about the differences between fresh dog food vs dry to see the benefits of human-grade ingredients over processed kibble.
The second major benefit is that the finished product will be at much lower risk of being contaminated with harmful pathogens. After all, even a tiny probability of human food being contaminated would result in horrendous lawsuits for any human food facility.
Downsides to Human-Grade Dog Food
There aren’t really any explicit disadvantages to pet foods marked human grade, except perhaps higher cost. Any trusted pet food manufacturer that uses the label usually just does so to denote that their ingredients are of high quality. PetPlate and Ollie, for example, take great care to get their ingredients only from reputable suppliers.
However, it pays to be more skeptical of lesser-known pet food brands that apply human grade claims to their products. As mentioned, it’s very easy to tack on the human grade label on pet foods as all you really need to fulfill that claim is to make sure that the ingredients used are human edible.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is human grade dog food better?
In terms of safety against contamination and ingredient quality, yes. But just because something is human edible doesn’t guarantee that it’s the best option for your pet. Nonetheless, most brands that tout themselves as using only human edible foods tend to be more careful when it comes to creating their dog food recipes.
What does it mean when dog food says human grade?
When pet food companies make human grade claims, they’re usually trying to say that their ingredients are cleaner and higher quality than the kind that’s often used in traditional pet food production. However, there is no actual legal definition for the term, and thus any pet food label can just apply it to their products as long as FDA or other authority finds their ingredients safe for human consumption .
What’s the best human grade food for dogs?
Look for a pet food company that’s open about their methods and processes and doesn’t solely bank on the fact that they use human grade ingredients. These are more likely to provide your pet with complete and balanced nutrition. It’s become a bit of a marketing tactic in the pet food industry to label food human grade, even though their ingredients are just a step above feed grade.