Why You Should Not Rely On Pet Food Ranking and Pledges

Why You Should Not Rely On Pet Food Ranking and Pledges
In an effort to gain confidence in what to feed, some pet owners rely on pet food ranking and pledging Internet sites. Such sites set forth criteria that pet food companies must adhere to.

Although the purpose of these sites is to "clean-up" the industry and guarantee safety, their premise is naïve.  Pet food companies are not independent mavericks who can willnilly do as they please without regard to safety or their own economic viability.  Although unsubstantiated stories abound, manufacturers do not scrape up road kill, use euthanized pets as ingredients, and the like. Wysong produces both human and animal foods and supplements and can testify that the requirements for pet food manufacturing far exceed those for humans. The onerous regulations imposed on pet food manufacturers include those by AAFCO, fifty different state regulatory authorities who can and do surprise inspect facilities to scrutinize ingredients, sourcing, processing, labels, websites, and formulations. Manufacturers are also subject to the same on-site inspection by the USDA, FDA, OSHA, and HACCP stringent food manufacturing requirements.

How would ranking high or making a "pledge" with no attendant means of verification or penalties possibly bring more credibility than this scrutiny by government agents with the power to shut doors, fine, and even imprison?

Moreover, ranking and pledging sites, by picking just certain criteria, do not reflect understanding of the scope of important issues that impact nutrition and health. Such awareness would not be necessary if pets were simply loose in the wild to consume what they naturally do. But once humans intercede and package commercial foods with "shelf life" meant to be fed exclusively, significant knowhow is essential. Such competency is true not only for producers, but for those who present themselves as critics (ranking and pledging experts) and demand that companies do this or that.

Because anyone can cook in a kitchen, nutrition is considered a soft science, a branch of homemaking, and leads people to believe they have expertise. According to the International Food Information Counsel, some 80% of the public believes they understand nutrition, but less than 0.1% have any science-based understanding at all. Nutrition is perhaps the most complex and important of all disciplines since it embraces virtually every science and has such a profound impact on the most complex machines in existence—living organisms. As the emerging science of epigenetics confirms, we and our pets are what we eat.

So before extending trust to anyone presenting themselves as an expert evaluator of pet food companies and products, one should ask if the authors are schooled, skilled, and experienced in medicine, disease, health, physiology, pathology, food technology, biochemistry, toxicology, food manufacturing, microbiology, nutrition, epigenetics, proteomics, nutrigenomics, nutraceuticals, etc. If not, is it not pretentious for them to presume that they can set forth criteria that an entire hundred-year-old industry and its supporting sciences must subscribe to?

Sadly, such sites gain the confidence of consumers because they seem impartial. But that impartiality is only because the authors may not be tied to a vested interest—other than income from the site perhaps, or just the ego satisfaction of setting themselves above an entire industry and having a following. However, the sites do demonstrate clear and unwavering partiality with regard to the "special" criteria they set forth as standards. Unfortunately, these standards fall far short of creating a pathway for consumers to achieve health for their loved pets. Instead, the sites promulgate myths and urban legends that do nothing to promote health, but rather just redirect consumers to "top ranked" and "pledged" companies that follow market whims.

Examples of misleading "standards" on these sites include: the "no-grain" myth, the "no synthetic vitamin" myth, the "order of ingredients" myth, the "road kill and euthanized pet ingredient" myth, Ingredient Sourcing, an endless array of pet ingredient "toxins" (http://www.wysong.net/pet-health-and-nutrition/toxin-paranoia.php, So You Think Wysong Uses Toxins In Its Products?), and so on.

People, including ranking and pledging sites, without full understanding tend to over enthusiastically promote their narrowed view and special do or don't. This is the simple and easy approach. But urban legends about ingredients, sources, and the like, are too simplistic and distract the consumer. They engender a false sense of confidence in products and feeding practices that may not be health promoting at all.

Nutrition and health for pets can no more be boiled down to the presence or absence of certain ingredients and their origins, than neurosurgery can be boiled down to whether a surgeon uses a #15 or #10 scalpel blade and whether that blade is made in China or not.

It is also misleading as a promotional tactic for manufacturers. Nevertheless, being asked to modify products to get to the top of a ranking list, or to swear an oath is like someone asking you if you have stopped being a bad person yet. A yes implies that you were a bad person; a no confirms that you are.  So, not wanting to be said to be "hiding something" or to be left out, and in the hope of boosting sales, companies design products and marketing to rank high or permit pledging (not to mention that anyone can pledge to anything). In so doing, they simply foster the erroneous and health-dangerous suppositions built into the ranking and pledging sites. It takes commitment to one's own principles to not be swayed.

This link provides the most important criteria for evaluating pet foods and can be backed by reason, science, and experience: How To Choose A Pet Food Company. On the other hand, not one of the criteria in most pledges can be backed by actual controlled scientific studies that show statistically valid benefit or harm. This link provides opportunity for those interested in understanding how to take control of health: The 100 Pet Health Truths.

Although it is understandable that consumers want assurance for products, there can be no guarantees where human beings are in charge. As children we pledge oaths in scouts, and doctors, lawyers, and politicians pledge integrity again as adults. But these same people fail to behave, or at the least may try to behave and fall victim to the imperfections that are part and parcel of life.

When seeking to extend trust to another, either a person, organization, or business, one is best served by observing actual results, evaluating the degree to which they have gained competency, and seeing the record of what they say as to their motives and the reasonableness of their beliefs and actions. A ranking, promise, oath, or pledge accomplishes none of this.

Wysong gives 35 years of experience and expertise in feeding hundreds of thousands of animals through multiple generations with health, not harm resulting. Some Wysong-fed pets have lived into the unheard of late twenties. We are a company led by the originator of the healthy pet food movement, and one that actually manufactures its own foods. We also provide 14 books Dr. Wysong has written on the subject, 30 years of health newsletters (WysongEducation.net), multiple websites (www.Wysong.net, www.WysongHealth.net, www.WysongEpigen.net, www.WysongPetHealth.net, www.wysongoptimalnet, www.ProteinKey.com), and thousands of testimonials (www.Wysong.net/testimonials.php). All educational materials (more than all companies combined) are provided free.

This is not to suggest that no company but Wysong provides good nutrition for pets—provided whatever is fed is fed in rotation and variety. (http://www.wysong.net/pet-health-and-nutrition/the-100-percent-complete-pet-food-myth.php, How To Rotate Diets, Why Intermittent Feeding) Wysong is a not-for-profit organization that even teaches people how to feed without using any commercial foods at all, even Wysong's. We follow what should be the true ambition of any good doctor, to teach patients (consumers seeking health) how not to need them.

Wysong is a family owned and family operated organization with its name on every product. We have no reason to deceive or mislead consumers on health matters. Given a choice between following misleading criteria used by rankers and pledgers in order to boost sales, or setting before the public our knowledge and experience to help them achieve health, we choose the latter.