In this guide, we discuss what ‘Human Grade’ might actually mean when it comes to dog food.
We also list a few of the more popular brands of dog food on the market right now that contain ‘human grade’ ingredients.
(NOTE: this is a general information guide only, and is not professional advice, or a substitute for professional advice. A qualified vet or animal expert is the only person qualified to give you expert advice in regards to your pet/s)
Human Grade Dog Food Brands
One dog food brand with claims related to ‘human grade’ is The Honest Kitchen’.
They mention their food is (from their product description/s):
- 100% human-grade standard
- All ingredients are processed in the USA in a human grade food processing facility
- The Honest Kitchen meets the rigorous FDA safety standards to use the label ‘human grade’, ensuring the highest quality dog food.
- The Honest Kitchen is made in the USA and never contains unsafe and unhealthy ingredients found in feed-grade products.
You can view their product/s at:
- The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Chicken Recipe Dehydrated Dog Food (on Chewy)
- The Honest Kitchen Human Grade Dehydrated Organic Whole Grain Dog Food (on Amazon)
What Does ‘Human Grade’ Actually Mean When It Comes To Dog Food?
There’s two parts to this – the technical/regulatory side, and the practical side of what might actually be enforced.
On the technical side, there’s the USDA and AAFCO to consider.
Although AAFCO has no statutory authority to regulate pet products, at aafco.org, they mention:
- There have been “human-grade” claims on some pet foods for a few years. This term has no definition in any animal feed regulations. Extremely few pet food products could be considered officially human edible or human-grade. A pet food that actually met these standards would be expensive. While pet owners can buy what they feel is best for their pet, they should understand the definitions and the odds.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines products fit for human consumption to be officially “edible.” These foodstuffs have been processed, inspected and passed manufacturing regulations (i.e. process control regulations) that are designed to assure safety for consumption by humans.
- Edible is a standard; human-grade is not.
So, we see that ‘human grade’ has no real legal definition when it comes to pet food.
A claim that dog food is “human-grade” or “human-quality” might only loosely imply that the food being referred to is edible for people, and has passed the necessary requirements for a food to be considered human grade or safe for humans.
Purina.com has this explanation: ‘In order to label a food as a “human-grade dog food,” all ingredients must be edible for humans, and the food itself must meet federal manufacturing and packaging regulations. As a result, almost no dog foods can meet these standards’
On the practical side, we might see that each pet food brand that claims to have ‘human grade’ pet food products might have their own reference to ‘human grade’ guidelines.
New AAFCO Guidelines For ‘Human Grade’ Definition
In 2017, newer guidelines came out by AAFCO about ‘human grade’ definitions for pet food.
Via agriculture.nh.gov, a main definition might be:
- (1) In the AAFCO-defined feed term “human grade” the use of the term “human grade” is only acceptable in reference to the product as a whole. The deed term specifies that every ingredient and the resulting product must be stored, handled, processed, and transported in a manner that is consistent and compliant with regulations for current good manufacturing practices (cGMP’s) for human edible foods as specified in 21 CFR part 117.
Petfoodindustry.com does a good job of breaking down the newer guidelines.
So, these guidelines might now be taken into account by consumers and pet food manufacturers.
It’s unclear how strictly these guidelines are enforced on pet food manufacturers.
Feed Grade Is The Opposite Of Human Grade
Feed grade foods can’t legally be sold as human food.
In feed grade foods, there may be a difference in relation to by products.
Lyka.com.au mentions some potential differences in human grade pet foods in Australia.
Regulations and guidelines for human grade foods and feed grade foods may differ country to country though.
Is ‘Human Grade’ Dog Food Any Safer Or Better Than Regular Dog Food?
A suitably qualified animal professional, such as your dog’s vet, can answer for you what food and diet might be safe and healthy for your dog.
In general though, a dog food being ‘human grade’ doesn’t tell you anything specific about the nutrition of the dog food ingredients, or other important information you might want to know about the dog food such as whether it contains ingredients linked to certain health problems.
The food could be ‘human grade’, but might not be nutritionally balanced for example.
‘Human grade’ ingredients might only be one factor for consideration in dog food.
A Study On Human Grade Dog Food
Further Reading On Dog Food
There’s many other considerations to take into account.
You should speak to your dog’s vet about the best food for your dog, and what a healthy diet might look like for them.
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