What is Human Grade Dog Food & What Does it Mean?
When it comes to feeding their dogs, many pet parents find themselves wondering what nutrition choices are the best for their dog among the variety of options and diets out there today. You’ve likely heard plenty about grain-free diets and natural dog foods, but you might be wondering: What is human-grade dog food?
Human-grade dog food is currently a loose term to describe food that is edible for people and, therefore, can sound like it could be a nutritious option for your pup. Keep in mind, however, that when it comes to human-grade dog food products, there’s more to this term than the connotation that comes to mind, and researching the options available is something that must be done with some care.
How AAFCO defines human-grade dog food
As pet parents embark upon their search to serve their pup the best food for their needs, it’s very possible that human-grade dog food could be worth the extra expense that is sometimes associated with these products. However, there are some additional considerations to keep in mind. According to The Association of American Feed Control Officials, (AAFCO), the term “human grade” has no standardized definition in the pet food space. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has defined a standard for the term “edible.”
For a product to be truly human-edible, all of the ingredients within the product must be human-edible, and the product also must be manufactured, packaged and held in accordance with certain federal regulations. When all of those conditions are met together in one item, then a product can be labeled as “human-grade.”
A claim that dog food is “human-grade” or “human-quality” implies that the food being referred to is edible for people. Unfortunately, however, that claim can be misleading, since the the terms “human-grade” or “human-quality” have no real legal definition and don’t necessarily always correlate to “healthy” food items for your pet.
Other dog food diets also have terms that are important to understand. For example, dog food products that state they are “USDA organic,” typically have stricter standards that require a product to be made without synthetic pesticides and genetic engineering may not be used during production. On the flip side, dog food and products labeled as “natural” can occasionally be misleading by how they are represented on packaging. While AAFCO has defined what “natural” pet food means, there are often cases of pet food manufacturers stretching the intention of the definition.
Buying human grade dog food and treats
Since there is still some haziness and controversy around the terms “human-grade” and “human-quality” as they apply to dog food, it is important to assess each human-grade food brand individually. While a dog food that is called “human-grade” could mean that it has passed all the necessary requirements to be edible to humans, it doesn’t always imply that it will also be a nutritious meal option for your pet as it may still lack a complete nutritional profile for dogs, such as the correct levels of specific vitamins and minerals.
If feeding your dog a diet of strictly human-grade dog food seems daunting at first, pet parents can also decide from a range of diverse human-grade dog food products that are available, including ready-to-eat, complete prepackaged meals and human-grade canned dog food, to dog treats or frozen daily meals that last for long periods when properly stored.
By ensuring they do thorough research on human-grade dog food brands, pet parents can find an option that will benefit the nutritional needs of their dog. Just remember to look beyond the packaging and read the ingredient label.