What You Need to Know About Dog Food “Made in the USA”
Dog owners often assume that dog food made in the USA is safer and of higher quality than foods that do not have this claim. And when you read the phrase, “Made in the USA” on the label, you likely interpret that to mean that the ingredients that the food is made with come from the USA as well. However, that is often not the case.
For a product to be labeled “Made in the USA”, regulations require only that the product be “all or virtually all” made in our country. But nowhere do labeling rules mandate the identification of sources of the individual components that were used to make a product. So, even though a manufacturer claims that their product is made in the USA, this does not necessarily mean that the ingredients were sourced in the USA. This is a very important distinction to recognize. For example, a company could manufacture their food in the USA, but some (or even most) of the ingredients used could come from countries with extremely loose pet food regulations, like China.
Pet food companies understand the value of “Made in USA” on the label and will use it to increase sales whenever possible. Companies often mislead consumers to think that their ingredients are also sourced in the U.S. They do this by putting the “Made in America” stamp on the bag and adding statements like “No ingredients sourced in China” or “Responsibly sourced ingredients” as a distraction. These claims are designed to put your mind at ease, yet they tell you nothing about where ingredients were sourced.
If you are looking for an “All American” dog food brand, you need to first trace the source of the ingredients being used – which is no easy task. Very few companies offer full disclosure of where their ingredients come from. If you call a company to find out ingredient sourcing details, you will often be given a vague answer or be told that it is “proprietary information.”
There are actually only a small number of pet food companies that welcome inquiries and will willingly tell consumers where their dog food ingredients are coming from. Most of them are smaller pet food companies – not the well-known brands that you see advertised. They are proud of the quality of ingredients in their food. Many of these companies also utilize local and sustainable ingredients; are very eco-conscious; use humanely raised meats and certified organic ingredients; contain no synthetic vitamins and minerals; do not contain rendered by-products, artificial preservatives, coloring or flavors; and produce their foods in USDA inspected and certified facilities.
To summarize, many of the dog foods and treats that are labeled as “Made in the USA” are only “made,” packaged and put together in the United States, but the ingredients – the most important part - that are used in the manufacturing process may not have been sourced in the U.S. However, this does not automatically mean that a food with ingredients from other countries is inferior or unsafe. It’s up to the consumer to do the research, learn how to read nutrition labels, and determine the quality of the food you are feeding your pet based on facts.