My previous blog post, “Navigating pet food product claims, part 1: scientific”, explained how the claims you make on your packaging are what make your product or brand unique. Additionally, we discussed the different types of scientific claims and the requirements for substantiating them. Lastly, we briefly discussed how making voluntary claims such as wholesome, natural, meat-first, grain-free or farm-to-table are no longer differentiating and are becoming commonplace in both pet specialty (premium brands) and the grocery channels (value brands).
In Debbie Phillips-Donaldson’s blog post, “Animal welfare meat: an up and coming pet food trend?”, she discussed the new trend of humanely raised animals being used in pet food as a differentiating point for premium products.
There is no regulatory definition for “humanely raised,” which makes evaluating these claims difficult. As a result, regulatory bodies look to independent, third-party auditors and certifications for substantiation. In general, a company’s claim must go through an auditing process every 12 to 15 months depending on which organization performs the audit and certification. For animals to be certified humane, they must meet or exceed a standard set of criteria that focus on animal welfare and husbandry. This includes all information from the day the animal was born until slaughter.
As a whole, many meat suppliers will not go through the extra steps for these types of certifications because these standards go above and beyond basic animal welfare practices. These standards include and are not limited to:
Although there is no regulatory definition for humanely raised, there are other, more traditional animal raising claims including, and not limited to, grass fed, organic, raised without antibiotics or added hormones, free range, cage free and wild caught (i.e., fish). When making these claims, be prepared to have the proper documentation. Generally, regulatory agencies will be looking for signed affidavits from the producer, invoices proving you actually purchased the animal protein source and certifications if required (e.g., organic certified). This is to ensure you are not making false or misleading claims.
There is no doubt that animal raising claims are here to stay, especially when they are being used to support the cost of premium pet foods and treats. Unfortunately, the great marketers will imply humanely raised or superior ingredients with certain buzz words or terms that are meaningless or potentially misleading. As a result, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out some confusing or potentially misleading claims:
Humanely raised third-party certifications go above and beyond the USDA organic standards. Even though you may believe there are minor differences between the two, it can impact how the consumer perceives your product or if they buy it. When in doubt, ask if the animals are humane certified.
Lastly, it is important to point out that humanely raised is beneficial from an animal welfare standpoint only. Humanely raised animal protein sources does not mean that it provides better nutrition.
Next time we will discuss, “Navigating through product claims, part 3: what does natural really mean?” Don’t worry, I will tackle organic and non-GMO in future blogs. If there are topics you would like to have discussed, feel free to comment below or reach out via LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ryanyamka.
Certified Humane. Date Accessed: November 9, 2017. www.certifiedhumane.org
Food Safety and Inspection Service. Date Accessed: November 9, 2017. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/6fe3cd56-6809-4239-b7a2-bccb82a30588/RaisingClaims.pdf?MOD=AJPERES
Global Animal Partnership. Date Accessed: November 9, 2017. www.globalanimalpartnership.org
USDA. Date Accessed: November 12, 2017. https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/Organic%20Livestock%20Requirements.pdf