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The Evolving Pet Diet

Pets that are treated like part of the family deserve to be fed like part of the family, or so the pet food industry believes. Pet owners are becoming increasingly interested in buying organic, high-quality, non-artificial pet foods. The world of dog food is becoming as rich as that of human food. New companies like Freshpet Inc. and Blue Buffalo Co. were started with the goal of giving pets healthier and more natural food options. More established pet food companies are also integrating themselves into the gourmet pet food market. In a push to more natural foods, Nestle’s Purina bought the first certified organic producer of dry and wet dog food, Merrick Pet Care. Mars’ Cesar Home Delights blurs the line between pet food and human food with their lasagna and beef stroganoff dishes. And with an increasing focus on dieting, Colgate-Palmolive now produces a food to help dogs lose weight. Purina Beneful products also make an effort to keep their food natural using real chicken, beef, egg and salmon in their dog food. Their ingredients come from similar places to where humans get their food: grain from Georgia, wheat and corn from the Midwest, meat from U.S.D.A. certified facilities and salmon from Alaska. But how do these companies ensure the food they are making is actually safe for pets? That requires a company to track their ingredients through the entire production process. Brands like Purina’s Beneful use ingredients monitored by a tracking system from the time they are brought to the Purina plant until they are shipped off to stores. Beneful is also subject to strict safety protocols regulated by the F.D.A., U.S.D.A., and A.A.F.C.O. Beneful is tested for over 150 substances like mycotoxins, lead and arsenic. Providing pets with high quality food does make the cost of production more expensive for companies and the price higher for pet owners, but pet food companies dedicated to quality products are able to keep pet owners coming back for more by high standards of safety and food quality.

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