Does this mean you should seek out organic foods for your furry family members? Definitely! Does this mean that you should run out and buy a bag of organic kibble? Definitely not!
Deceptive Labels: The Good
If you want to make sure the food your dog is eating is organic, you must carefully study the label. If the label states something like “Planet Paws Naturals 100% Organic Beef Dog Food” then this means that the beef contained in the food is 100% organic and all flavorings and preservatives in the food are from organic sources.
If the label doesn’t state that the meat is 100% organic and says something like “Planet Paws Naturals Organic Beef Dinner” then that’s still not too bad. In this case, the food must be 95% organic and contain 100% organic beef. It can, however, contain up to 5% inorganic products, including chicken or other meats.
Deceptive Labels: The Bad
What if the label said “Planet Paws Naturals Dog Food Made With Organic Chicken”? This is where it gets interesting. The USDA in this case would require only 3% organic chicken! At least 67% of the other ingredients would have to be organic but 30% of that food can be inorganic. What’s interesting is that of the 30% of the allowable non-organic ingredients, any chicken meal or fat, doesn’t have to be organic at all, even though the label states that the chicken organic. So this food, which would be clearly labeled as organic chicken really only needs to contain 3% organic chicken!
Foods that contain less than 70% organic ingredients will not say organic on the label but may state any organic ingredients on the label (for example, organic beet pulp).
Deceptive Labels: The Ugly
If you choose your pet food carefully and opt for a food with a 100% organic claim, it’s important to note that it doesn’t necessarily mean the food is more nutritious. Organic foods don’t necessarily imply quality and the food can still contain diseased, disabled, decaying and dying meats. It may contain pesticides and also be stabilized with synthetic and harmful ingredients such as MSG.
The best way to be assured of a nutritious food with high quality ingredients is to look more at the length of the ingredient list than the actual ingredients. Look for words like rosemary and chicken as opposed to animal digest, ferrous sulfate and calcium pantothenate. With the exception of quinoa, if you can’t pronounce an ingredient, it’s probably not food! And the further removed from food the ingredients are, the less value the organic label will have.
If you really want the most nutritious food for your dog, start by feeding him a food with whole food ingredients, not fake, synthetic food from questionable sources. The organic label is a useless gimmick if the food isn’t really food at all!