What does it mean when cat food isn’t human grade?
Though the term has been popping up more and more lately, human-grade cat foods are still in the minority, and most products cannot even begin to claim certification as edible for humans.
One reason for this is the production cost. Pet food manufacturers are in the business of producing a viable product on a large scale, while still turning a profit. As a result, brands look to other, non-human animal ingredients which still provide a good nutritional profile, but aren’t priced from the grocery store.
This might mean the inclusion of organ meat, animal by-products (fats, gelatin, connective tissues, etc.), and in some formulas, meat meals.
The mysterious and gross world of meat meals and slurries causes alarm for many pet owners. Whether that alarm is deserved or not is often a matter of specificity. If a meal is labeled with a specific animal (i.e. chicken meals or beef meal), owners can feel relatively confident that food will only contain identifiable animal parts. Even if those parts have been rejected from an edible food processing facility, and aren’t appetizing from a human perspective, we still know what they are and where they came from.
A generic pet food meal, however, is probably something to avoid, as it suggests that the meat has been reconstituted from multiple low-value sources, which may be hard or impossible to trace. In 2014, Chapman University looked into the accuracy of pet food labeling and the sources of meat ingredients, they found mixed results. Of the 52 cat and dog foods tested, twenty were arguably mislabeled including seven cat foods. When meat species were present that were not included on the product label, pork was the most common undeclared meat.