12 January - 20 June 2016

Scientists find some pet food contains unspecified animal species

9 April 2015

In the wake of the 2013 ‘horse meat scandal’, researchers from the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science at the University of Nottingham have examined the presence and authenticity of animal sources (cow, pig, chicken and horse) of proteins in a range of popular pet foods in the United Kingdom. 

Seventeen leading cat and dog foods were sample and tested for the presence of DNA from each of the four animal species using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR).  In 14 of the 17 samples, chicken, porcine and bovine DNA were found in various proportions and combinations but were not specifically identified on the product labels.

Of the 7 products with the descriptions containing the term “with beef”, only 2 samples were found to contain more bovine DNA (>50%) than an alternative source. The study concluded that there is a need for the pet food industry to show greater transparency to customers in displaying accurately the types of animal proteins (species and tissue types) in their products. It is suggested that a full disclosure of animal contents will allow for a more informed choice to be made where customers may have pets with food allergies and would also help to reduce the risk of product misinterpretation by shoppers adding to help avoid potential religious conflicts by mistake.

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