Dog food companies deny any wrongdoing. They claim they’re just reporting a dog food’s contents. And that they’re simply following government guidelines.
Yet others cry foul. They insist ingredient splitting is a deliberate attempt to mislead consumers — a dirty little trick used by the pet food industry to make an ingredients list look more attractive to consumers than it really is.
So, who’s telling the truth?
What Is Ingredient Splitting?
Ingredient splitting is the deceptive practice of dividing a more abundant — yet inferior quality — ingredient into smaller portions.
This shady design tactic is used to artificially raise a meat item to a higher position on the ingredients list — and lower an inferior one.
Let me show you how ingredient splitting works.
How Does It Work?
Say you have a dog food in which corn is the dominant ingredient. Since corn is less nutritious to a dog than meat, it’s considered a lower quality item.
Remember, pet food manufacturers are required to arrange each item on every ingredients list in order of its precooking weight.
Now, take a look at the “Before Splitting” side of the table below.
Notice how corn, with its 30% pre-cooking weight, gets a first place position. Second-ranked rice makes up the next 20%, thus leaving chicken meal (a quality item) to occupy the list’s #3 spot.
Of course, dog food companies want their products to “look” like they’re meat-based. So, they’re well aware an ingredients list like this isn’t likely to impress a label-reading shopper.
Ingredient Splitting Turns Straw Into Gold
Now, what would happen to that same list if you divide a few of the more abundant ingredients into smaller portions?
Please look at the ride side of the table labeled “After Splitting”.
Now, instead of using 30% corn, a pet food designer could simply split corn into corn meal and corn flour — at just 15% each.
And replace the original rice with other rice ingredients.
That would move the corn and rice components further down the list. And so, even though the amount of chicken meal remains unchanged, it’s now magically the first-ranked ingredient.
When Meat Is the First Ingredient
Let the Buyer Beware
If you’ve ever been told to look only for dog foods where meat is the first ingredient, please remember the deceptive power of ingredient splitting.
Being able to divide a dominant ingredient into smaller portions permits any pet food manufacturer to trick you into believing there’s more meat in a product than there actually is.
So, the next time you see a meat item as the first ingredient on the list — don’t be too impressed.
Or you could become the next victim of the pet food industry’s dirty little secret.
Be sure to check our ratings and reviews for an unbiased opinion regarding the meat content of your pet’s food.