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All Natural v. Organic Pet Food. How can you tell them apart? | Nutrition Center

All Natural v. Organic Pet Food

Pet owners may be confused with the terms manufacturers use to describe the ingredients in pet food. These definitions should help you decide which qualities are most important for your pet’s food.

All Natural Pet Food

All Natural Pet Food does not use artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Most premium pet foods are considered to be all natural and no longer use chemical preservatives in their foods. Some kind of preservative is needed to stabilize the fat in dry pet food, preventing it from becoming rancid. Natural preservatives such as vitamin E and vitamin C (Mixed Tocopherols) and rosemary are used to preserve dry pet food. Canned food requires no added preservative as the can itself acts to stabilize the contents.

Holistic Pet Food

Holistic, by definition, means: Emphasizing the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts. Very few pet foods are truly holistic. Manufacturers of holistic pet foods select each ingredient for its individual benefit to some part of the body. Many pet food ingredients include additional synthetic nutrients that provide the necessary levels of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients required by AAFCO to be considered complete and balanced. Holistic pet food would obtain these essential nutrients solely from the nutrients that are naturally occurring in the ingredients selected to make up their foods.

Human-Grade Ingredients in Pet Food
The term human-grade is not a recognized term by AAFCO, therefore, the term cannot be used on pet food labels. Although the term cannot be used on the package label, manufacturers can use this reference in their online or printed advertisements for their products. Even if the ingredient is human-grade by USDA standards, once that ingredient leaves the licensed facility and travels to the pet food manufacturer, it is no longer considered fit for human consumption. Because there is no standardization in place to regulate the handling and transportation of these human-grade ingredients, the term itself has no real meaning when applied to pet food.

Organic Pet Food
For human foods, the term “organic” has a precise meaning defined by the USDA’s National Organic Program.

“To be certified as organic, plant ingredients in pet food must be grown without pesticides, artificial fertilizers, genetic modification, irradiation or sewage sludge. Animal ingredients must come from animals raised on organic feed, given access to the outdoors and not treated with antibiotics or hormones.”

The producers are inspected to make sure they adhere to these standards. Unlike human food regulatory agencies like the FDA, there are no such agencies in place that enforce the organic designation in pet food. Because there is no pet food regulation on the brand names of pet food, any food brand called “organic” may or may not contain all certified organic ingredients.

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