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Organic Pet Food

Organic Pet Food

October 27, 2007 —

For years, many people have professed the opinion that there are problems with the “complete and balanced” pet food standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). In response, the industry has added supplements to ensure an adequate level of nutrients and digestibility.Some consumers remain unsatified, and have decided to buy organic pet food.

Organic pet food sales grew to more than $14 million by 2003—still less than one-tenth of 1 percent of total industry sales. Researchers predict a 17 percent sales increase each year between 2004 and 2008, despite the fact that organic pet food is generally more expensive than other pet food.

"When you really start looking into the details, there's a lot of stuff going into that food that I don't think is necessary and I don't think it's good for your pet, " said Nell Newman, co-founder of Newman's Own Organics. "People want their pets to eat as well as they do."  Some pet owners believe organic pet food will extend the lives of their pets.

Where's the (Organic) Beef?

There is little research showing the benefits of organic pet food.   “Organic foods of any kind, for people or animals, are not more healthful," said Nancy Cook, chair of the U.S. Agriculture Department’s organic pet food task force.  "They are just produced using different processes.” In fact, some organic or natural diets could actually be worse for animals if, for example, an organic raw food diet contains bacteria that could cause illness.

In addition, determining the contents of ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ pet food is often confusing.  For instance, Newman’s food is about 70 percent organic.  The remaining ingredients do not contain artifical additives. AAFCO defines a natural product as "a feed or ingredient derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources" which means that though these products may be altered through processing, they may not contain additives or preservatives that are synthetic.

Despite the lack of research on the benefits of organic food, for humans and pets, consumers believe that organic is better—are willing to back that belief by spending more.

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