Organic Pet Food: Luxury or Ethical Necessity?

Organic pet food companies such as Paw Naturaw and Newman's Own are still a small portion of the pet food industry, but sales of organic pet food have been growing, and are expected to increase faster than sales of mainstream pet food in the next several years, according to a report by Packaged Facts.  Consumers and critics have had mixed reactions to the recent trend of organic pet food, with proponents arguing organic pet food is necessary for healthy pets and opponents arguing organic pet food is merely a ploy to pinch the pockets of consumers.

The Ethical Problems of Pet Food
While organic pet foods may provide pets with health benefits, there are other reasons why ethical consumers should choose organic pet foods over mainstream commercial pet food brands.  PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has attacked commercial pet food brands such as Iams for keeping animals in inhumane conditions and for animal testing.  Many pet foods contain genetically modified foods such as corn and soy that are controlled by corporate giants such as Monsanto.  The meat sources used in pet foods often come from animals pumped full of hormones and antibiotics, and housed in poor conditions.  Pet food advertising frequently makes unqualified claims that do not have scientific backing; mainstream brands such as Iams and Eukanuba have been the subject of lawsuits over false advertising.

Choosing an Ethical Pet Food
Petco claims that organic pet food is the “new standard for healthy eating and a healthier well-being.”  But with all the controversy about ethical advertising and sourcing in pet food, how is a consumer to choose?  Since the purpose of packaged pet food is convenience, how can the consumer choose an ethical packaged pet food with ease and confidence?  Until the pet food industry changes its marketing and ingredient standards, perhaps the best way for a consumer to know if a pet food is high quality and ethically sourced is to choose organic pet food brands.

There are plenty of pet foods marketed as “natural” or “holistic,” with little regulation to protect consumers from faulty marketing.  For a pet food to feature the USDA organic seal, it must contain 95% organic ingredients which have met USDA regulations for organic certification.  Individual ingredients that have been certified organic will be listed as organic on the pet food label.  Organic ingredients cannot be genetically modified or have artificial hormones.  PETA also keeps a list of pet food companies who do not use animal testing, many of which are organic brands such as Newman's Own or Natural Balance.

Organic pet food is not just a luxury for “pampered pooches.”  Consumers who choose organic pet foods are not only choosing a healthier food for their pet, they are also choosing not to spend their money on companies that use animal testing, genetically modified foods and unethical protein sources.

Photo Credit:  powazny