Understanding what’s in Pet Foods can be tough, because product labels do not have a Nutrition Facts Panel, like human foods.
The Food and Drug Administration regulates Pet Food in the United States. At a state level, Pet Food is regulated by the Department of Agriculture.
Notably, Pet Food is not governed by the same laws that human food is, rather, it is regulated under “feed” law.
Because Pet Food is not considered “food”, but rather “feed”, the FDA allows feed products to utilize a different standard of ingredients and production requirements, than foods for human consumption. The FDA establishes its Compliance Policy Guidelines for use by companies who make Pet Foods. Crucially, here is one of those policies:
POLICY: Pet food consisting of material from diseased animals or animals which have died otherwise than by slaughter…will be considered fit for animal consumption.
Chicken or beef or lamb in human foods are required by law to be USDA inspected, and passed. A diseased animal, or animal that has died other than by slaughter, is forbidden in human food, though acceptable in Pet Food.
Alternatively, when you see the words “Human Grade” on a Pet Food label, that Pet Food is made with the exact same standard of ingredients as a food for human consumption would be. Identifying the term “Human Grade” on the label of a bag or can of Pet Food, can be helpful when making a consumer choice.