Researchers in Chapman University’s Food Science Program have published a study focused on commercial petfoods marketed for dogs and cats to identify meat species present as well as any instances of mislabeling. Of the 52 products tested, 31 were labeled correctly, 20 were potentially mislabeled and one contained a non-specific meat ingredient that could not be verified.

“Although regulations exist for petfoods, increases in international trade and globalization of the food supply have amplified the potential for food fraud to occur,” said Rosalee Hellberg, PhD, co-author on the study. “With the recent discovery of horsemeat in ground meat products sold for human consumption in several European countries, finding horsemeat in US consumer food and petfood products is a concern, which is one of the reasons we wanted to do this study.”

Chicken was the most common meat species found in the petfood products. Pork was the second most common meat species detected, and beef, turkey and lamb followed, respectively. Goose was the least common meat species detected. None of the products tested positive for horsemeat.

Of the 20 potentially mislabeled products, 13 were dog food and seven were cat food. Of these 20, 16 contained meat species that were not included on the product label, with pork being the most common undeclared meat species. In three of the cases of potential mislabeling, one or two meat species were substituted for other meat species. While a seemingly high percentage of petfoods were found to be potentially mislabeled, the manner in which mislabeling occurred is not clear; nor is it clear as to whether the mislabeling was accidental or intentional and at which points in the production chain it took place, according to the report.

The study was published in the journal Food Control.