December 9, 2016

Is Pet Food “Fit for Human Consumption?”

We watched the recent episode of Dual Survival, “ROAD TO NOWHERE” where Dave and Cody were stuck in the Maine wilderness.  They had to survive on items they found in a broken down truck.  One of the items they salvaged was a can of dog food.  It was mentioned that although unappetizing and gross to look at, pet food is suppose to be “fit for human consumption” and they proceeded to eat some of it and use part of it as bait.  They seemed fine after eating it, except for some remarks from Dave not wanting to be downwind from Cody.

The next day I went and looked up whether pet food is “fit for human consumption” and found no definitive answer.  From what I read, the EU does have this requirement and some companies in the UK actually have a human taste tester.   I think it would depend on what “fit for human consumption” means.   If it means “non poisonous” to humans, then sure, it is not poisonous.  In the U.S.  the pet food industry is regulated by the FDA, and they have some minimum requirements that are geared for the particular animal’s nutrition needs.

Years ago, I had a friend whose toddler accidentally ate a dog biscuit and liked it.  I saw this article in Popular Science magazine that indicated no ill-effects would result if you tried cat food once or twice (especially the organic ones), but it is not really recommended for long term use (Can People Safely Eat Cat Food http://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2009-02/can-people-safely-eat-cat-food-0).

However, if you were to really consider what goes into canned pet food, I doubt anyone would want to eat it:  intestines, heads, hooves, possibly even diseased and cancerous animal parts.  These parts are gathered and cooked in a process called “rendering” which just means thrown in a huge vat and boiled.   I actually felt a big queasy after researching all this, so I will spare you the rest of the details.   Suffice it to say, I do not believe it would be productive for me to eat it, even in an emergency, if I were to just “lose my lunch” in the process.  But then you never know what desperation drives people to do.

I hope I never find myself in a situation where I had to eat a can of dog or cat food.  I will be picking up extra dehydrated and canned foods to add to the emergency stockpile just to make sure.

15 Comments on Is Pet Food “Fit for Human Consumption?”

  1. Dry pet food is a type of hard tack food… We need to make our own…Then good for pets and people!

  2. I remember having this conversation with my husband years ago. He, being the smart one, (a veritable “fountain of miscellaneous information”) said that cats can not survive on dog food. They require much more B vitamins than dog food has. Dogs have evolved over the eons eating our scraps, and can survive on much less nutrition, apparently. Many, many older people have resorted to eating cat food. Though some people say it is expensive, I’d say that depends on which brand you’re looking at. Friskies Turkey Dinner in Gravy (Prime Filets) comes in a can the size of a tuna can for half the price. I suppose the larger econo can works out even less per serving.

    • I was looking into cat food alternatives as well, but I did find out cats cannot eat dog food, it would be missing cat needed nutrients.

  3. A free tin of gourmet cat food came in the bucket of cat litter I bought recently, so I gave it to my cats as a treat. When I first opened it, I was surprised that it smelled GOOD. It looked and smelled like shredded chicken in gravy that would be completely fit for human consumption. The ingredient list read: Chicken, water. Many of the premium (expensive) canned pet foods these days are made from very high quality foods that most people would be content to eat if they didn’t know it was designated as “pet food.” I’m not recommending it, mind you. But neither would I turn it down if I was hungry and not sure when my next meal would be!

    • This is true, some of those gourmet cat foods in the tiny tins do not look or smell bad at all! Hope to not have to eat them, but I guess if I had to, the gourmet ones would be the ones to start on.

  4. This topic has got me thinking when walking the aisles at the grocery store. I wondered if Bird Seed could be cooked up like cereal, or ground into a flour, or sprouted and sauteed? Maybe sprinkle Fish Flakes on top of mac and cheese? It makes me laugh saying it, but really, desperate times call for creative and out-of-the box thinking. While people with less forethought grab the Pop Tarts and Coco Puffs, actual nutrition can be found in other less likely places.

    I just googled fish flake ingredients (wikipedia article), sounds pretty good!

    • Hey Diana, have not even considered bird seed and such! But really bird seed seems pretty close to cereal. Very creative thinking!

  5. I see no good reason to eat pet food when one can easily store a lot of human food given the time and money. Having said that, move over Fido if I run out!

  6. I can’t tell you how many people have told me over the years that they ate dog food as a kid- what is the fascination with it?! They’ve all obviously lived to tell the tale! 😉

    Our dogs are spoiled. We live on a farm where every scrap goes somewhere- dogs, chickens, pig, etc. If the dogs get only kibble in their bowls one night, they look at us disdainfully and sometimes won’t eat it. I’ve also seen one of our dogs steal mice from the cats. So, if mice taste better than dog food, I think I’m motivated to stockpile real people food!

    Great site. Will be back soon.

    • Hi Laura, Welcome and thanks for the comment! Wow your dogs sure eat well. I know that look when they turn their nose up because something is not good enough for them 😀

  7. I have seen numerous stories, Wall Street Journal most recently, that indicate that the pet food companies are aware that people eat their products and make allowances for that.

    The main concern of the pet food companies, I kid you not, is that it taste good to both humans and pets. Not because humans make it a regular part of their diet, but because a significant portion of pet owners try out their pets foods to see if it tastes good: presumably under the impression that Fido or Kitty have the same taste sensors that they do (they don’t).

    So it is meant to be pallitable, but not meant to be a balanced diet.

    • Goodness I had no idea people actually taste pet food just to taste it to make sure its good enough for pets. As you said, animals have diff taste from humans so tasting it would not have any purpose.

  8. Folks, I’m a consultant who works in the food & rendering industries. US pet foods are made of a variety of materials, but the quality is very high. Oftentimes, poultry processors have excess production of dark meat cuts (legs, thighs) since US tastes are for white meat; therefore, a substantial amount of very high-quality, fresh poultry goes into pet foods.

    The FDA is aware that many indigent people consume pet foods, so these are made to human consumption standards in terms of bacterial counts etc. There is also a lot of “accidental” consumption by children, so the manufacturers are risk-averse and avoid putting anything dangerous into the food. I’ve eaten the old “Milk Bone” dog biscuits with no problem!

    In terms of human emergencies, I’d stock bags of dried cat food over the high-priced survival rations (lasagna, etc.). A human will obtain sufficient protein, fat and energy from a single handful of dried cat food kibbles per day, it is by far the best survival food we have. It might not taste that great, but it is better than eating dirt, dried feces etc.

    When an emergency happens, you don’t have many choices. Avoid canned foods entirely, go with only dried products. Dried whey protein is very inexpensive and an excellent supplement. Cat food? I’d keep a large bag around just in case. And, don’t worry about your pet in an emergency, they’ll eat anything. Study up on edible insects and grubs. Best, CRS, DrPH (preparedness advisor to DHS, FBI )

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