Many are convinced that poor diet is one of the leading causes of chronic and autoimmune diseases in pets. These health conditions can be fatal. It is undeniable that the popular phrase ‘you are what you eat’ does not only apply to humans but to our furry companions as well. Most pet owners do not only choose prime ingredients for their pet’s diet, but they have also switched to natural and organic pet food.
“While consumers once trusted science to deliver the magic mix of vital nutrients for their pets, they’re putting more faith in nature these days,” (source).
Organic pet food diet
The ‘organic’ label means that the ingredients used have no exposure to artificial pesticides, chemicals, or fertilisers. In addition to that, food products that have undergone a GMO (genetically modified organism) process are also forbidden. Organic refers to pet food that is manufactured without the aid of the following:
- Fertilisers of synthetic origin
- Artificial flavours, preservatives, and colours
- Drugs including antibiotics
- Genetically modified organisms
- Synthetic growth hormones
Production of organic food follows certain laws and regulation that vary depending on the country. For example, in the EU, the law requires certification on all food variety labelled as organic. In the UK, it requires organic manufacturers to be certified by more than one awarding body before it is considered organic.
Pet food label terms
The safest bet when choosing the best pet food for your pets should be checking on the labels and being wary of deceptive labels. Note that the word organic is usually labelled alongside ‘natural’ and ‘holistic,’ though such terms are not interchangeable.
To determine that the ingredients used are ‘organic’, it should be approved by the Department of Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra). A pre-packaged food labelled ‘organic’ should comprise at least 95% organic ingredients. Further, they are expected to meet the following standards:
- Restrictions on cleaning materials and pest control methods used.
- It must not involve genetically modified organisms
- It should have natural flavours.
Pet foods labelled as ‘natural’ refer to the selective use of natural ingredients without any processing procedures, excluding minerals, vitamins, and other vital nutrients. It should not contain any additives, artificial colours or flavours, and preservatives.
Holistic products refer to pet food that contains additional ingredients to support pets’ body and health system in all aspects. Pet foods labelled as holistic serve as supplementary food to boost your pet’s physical, mental, and emotional health.
There are legal requirements for food packaging and labelling to protect consumers and ensure that they are getting the correct information about ingredients. So, it’s important to read the labels to ensure food safety for your pets.
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The pros of organic pet food diet
Whilst there may be nutritional additives added in organic pet food, it should not be greater than 5% of the total content.
- Organic feeding is free from artificial colours, preservatives, and additives.
- It provides a higher nutritional value given that they do not contain unknown or potentially dangerous content from non-organic food.
- It is closer to what pets eat in the wild.
- There is a lower risk of allergies, diseases, and illnesses which can be acquired from unnecessary ingredients.
- Fewer chances of developing digestive problems.
The cons of organic pet food diet
The major disadvantage of organic pet feeding is the price. Expect to pay double the price of non-organic pet food. As growing natural ingredients takes time, the final product tends to be more expensive.
GMO-free pet food
The safest way to determine if you are buying a non-GMO food is to read the ingredients in the packaging. Check the label and watch out for common GMO ingredients (according to the Non-GMO Project):
- Corn syrup
- Soy flour
- Soy milk
- Vegetable oil
- Xanthan gum
Evaluate the product and see if it has a non-GMO-verified seal. This is usually found on the front of the packaging:
- Certified CCOF organic
- Non-GMO Project Verified
- NSF Non-GMO True North
However, it is important to note that even with products labelled as GMO-free, there is still no definite guarantee. For instance, there is no regulation to restrict what straws required to be used for beddings for organic cattle farms, and there is no way to stop the animals nibbling on their own beddings.
According to British supermarkets, the best way to avoid GMO products or GM-fed meat is to buy products that are labelled ‘organic’. Organic meat, eggs, and milk are said to be provided with a non-GM diet.
Did you find this article helpful? Check out your next read more from our pet blogs on diet and health.