Here is a site you might find interesting if you have not already seen it:
I was informed of it by ConsumerWorld.org newsletter I received a couple times a week.
Thanks for posting this. I plan on spending some time checking the site out further. On first glance it looks quite interesting. I saw that some products/brands that people vilify here such as Purina were assigned 5 stars and others like Acana/Orijen that many posters to this site embrace were assigned the lowest rating of only 1 star.
I like that ratings are based in part from actually testing the diets for contaminants and that this isn’t a pet food ratings site per say. It looks like the same group of food scientists and medical professionals also tested baby food
That’s a very interesting and informative site. A bit ashamed to say that for all I am interested more in a company’s quality control than an ingredient list, that there could be heavy metal contamination in pet food never even occurred to me :/
Even more interesting is that several of the “high-end”, boutique type dog foods that I swore were the cause of major problems for my pack are also the lowest rated due to contaminants. Canidae, Wellness CORE, and the God-forsaken Timberwolf, which is possibly the worst commercial dog food in the known universe. It also, I think, puts the final nail in the proverbial coffin of a mystery that’s been bothering me for years. That is, why did my dogs get sick on one formula of a given brand, while thriving on another? (Science Diet, I am looking directly at you) And what could have been the reason why foods like Timberwolf would cause an immediate, drastic and euthanasia worthy behavioral issue, while blood test results were completely normal?
Heavy metal toxicity seems to fit that bill.
One thing I am curious about, though, is how they calculated nutritional value. I see that Kibbles & Bits, which is lower protein than Dog Chow, got rated higher for its nutrient content than the latter, whereas Orijen, which has dangerously high levels of minerals – I think the calcium:phosphorous alone is 3x the daily requirement – has a nutritional value comparable to that of Dog Chow. Odd.
Anyway, I sincerely thank you for posting this. The pack gets mostly home-cooked these days, but some recent health issues are forcing me to start supplementing with kibble, so it’s a very good resource to have when looking into feeds. On another note, I’m seriously considering getting a cat, so took a gander at the kitty list. Couldn’t believe Deli-Cat is still around! That brings back some fond memories of my grandmother’s cat, who lived to be about 22 yrs old on nothing but that food, and even then most likely died of extreme neglect rather than old age 🙁
Beneful a 5 star food? Sorry but no, never.
Definitely looks like a much more sound way of evaluating pet foods than by the ingredient list and GA alone given how little an ingredient list tells you about the food.
Aimee…keep us updated on your findings on the legitimacy of this site.
I don’t understand how this works, I clicked on the “Dry foods” there is 15 rows of dry dog kibbles, from 5 stars to 1 star….Holistic Select, Adult/Puppy Salmon, Anchovy & Sardines dog gets 3 stars, it’s in row 9, then when you get to row 14 the Holistic Select dog same formula gets 1 star… how can that be??
I did notice when the formulas used chicken & turkey they got 5 stars when the kibble had any type of fish it got 1 star… I seen a few brands that got 1 star that Patch didn’t do well on, when he first started eating them he was OK then by the 3rd week, he went down hill & was doing sloppy yellow poo’s & didn’t really want to eat the kibble no more, Earthborn, Ocean Fusion, Wellness Complete Whitefish & Sweet Potatoes , Wellness Simple Duck & Oats, Canidae Pure Land…..Patches very sensitive stomach/bowel must know when a kibble is CRAP….there was no TOTW formula’s, that’s the only kibble Patch hasn’t ever gone down hill on, no stomach/pancreas pain, no sloppy poos/diarrhea, no acid reflux, I’d love TOTW to be tested, cause why do dogs with IBD, EPI & IBS do really well on it, I’d love to no how many stars TOTW gets?….
This is why I like rotating kibbles, this way they are not on the same formula/brand long enough to get sick…
The ladies that use to post 3 yrs ago knew what they were talking about they always recommended rotating your dog foods…
Like I always say your better off feeding a Raw or Cooked diet, not a dry kibble….
Rodney Habib & others are proving dogs live longer when they eat raw/cook fresh whole food diets….People start adding fresh whole foods to your dogs diet……
i saw the rating system as well and really have to wonder how these foods got 5 stars. i noticed the same as you foods with fish were lower rated. my thoughts are that fish oil and fish have a lot of mercury even humans should eat no more then 3 cans of tuna per month. the foods with the most real meats or fish(no meals) and no fillers such as oats barley rice etc had the most metal contamination they say turkey is least contaminated the foods they said had 5 stars was eagle pack their first ingredients are chicken meal pork meal ground brown rice rice barley oatmeal so perhaps as i said the foods packed with real meat and fish may naturally contain more heavy metals then the foods that meat meals and alot grains? i have wonder if rendering doesnt reduce the some of the contaminants in meat meals? or maybe the cuts they use to render into meat meals , beaks feet feathers hooves etc dont contain as many heavy metals as the actual flesh of the animal?
in looking at canidae some foods had a 5 star rating. none of the foods with 5 stars had fish in them. some of the three stars did have fish meal . the treats were all one star with no fish meal and of the actual one star canidae dog foods most if not all had menhaden meal in them
all of the orijen foods contain fish perhaps that is why the one star rating?
and it appears all acana foods have fish in them as well
I like the point you brought up on the other site about what they consider excessive contaminants. Let us know if you find out anything more about their tests, please.
It would be nice if they would report exactly what contaiminants were found in each food. Should be no problem as they should be able to just upload the test results.
I emailed them to find out if they were even willing to disclose that info to a random person making an inquiry. Haven’t heard back yet and probably won’t over the weekend.
I need to understand this site more before using it as a tool to judge a pet food. I’m still confused as to why some foods that are rated very low in nutritional value, but high in the other two brackets are still getting 5 stars and not 3 etc.
That’s what I was wishing for too, the exact results for each food and what rating system they used for nutritional value. I am more interested in the contaminant part however, than the nutritional part. I have and am planning on feeding Eagle Pack so that was nice seeing it rated so high. Yet another one of their recipes wasn’t. Go figure? I’m sure you’ll report back if you hear from them.
Have a good day! 🐶🐸😺
- This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by crazy4cats.
I recently discovered that site too. I’m not sure how legitimate it is. I find it very fishy that they won’t release the data on WHAT was found in the pet food, they only give it a star rating leaving consumers unsure of what’s in the pet food. It seems really suspect that they would tell consumers that certain pet foods are bad but not tell us why. I tried to do some research on them but couldn’t find much, but I did come across this reddit AMA with them that’s worth a read. Everyone seemed to question their legitimacy, and they didn’t have any real answers to questions.
However, now it’s got me questioning if my pet food is full of contaminants. I recently switched to orijen which got a very low rating. I’m going to reach out to orijen to see if they have any response to this.
If anyone’s curious, this is the response I got from Champion pet foods regarding their response to the test:
Thank-you for contacting us. After numerous attempts to contact the *********** Project between April 10th and 13th, we had a conference call with the members of their team as well as Ellipse Analytics lab on April 18th.
*********** Project explained their objective to test pet food brands for difference contaminants, then compare and rate them based on their own star-rating system. *********** Project noted that they did not conduct any safety assessment of the results against the National Research Council (NRC) or FDA safety standards for companion animals. Rather, the results were compared to the EPA water quality levels which they believe the general public would be familiar with. We suggested that a comparison to the correct NRC or FDA standards would be more valuable to both pet lovers and the industry.
Although actual testing results and detailed methodologies were not provided, as a follow up to our conversation, we later received a quote from Ellipse Analytics where we could pay to receive detailed test results as well as a reference to their pet food certification process.
Our Champion guidelines for toxic heavy metals are based on the limits determined by the NRC for cats and dogs. Monitoring heavy metal levels is an important control point for us, and part of our HACCP program. We preform testing on our own foods and they are also tested for all heavy metals by a third-party accredited laboratory and these results range far below stipulated NRC levels.
Again, we affirm that our foods offer exceptional nutrition, food safety and peace of mind to pet lovers. We are committed to producing Biologically Appropriate dog and cat foods that are trusted by pet lovers everywhere and will continue to keep you updated on this situation as information becomes available.
I hope this information was helpful to you. If you have any questions please let me know.
Thanks for posting. I contacted Orijen too and got no where near the answer you got. I was simply told “they had very little information at this time and could contact me later when they knew more”. However, it has been a week since I contacted *********** as well asking for the test results on Orijen Six Fish and I’ve still received no email back. Not sure if it got lost in a sea of emails or was purposefully disregarded.
May try to contact them again with a different less invasive question to see how slow or fast I get a response.
I also emailed the *********** project, and I too haven’t gotten a response from them (and all I asked was if they tested the american or canadian version of Orijen).
I’m going to try asking them on their FB page as they seem to write back to questions much quicker there, but at this point I’m not putting too much faith in their credibility.
The “nutritional value” rating disappeared.
Ooo nice catch! How sketchy!
Did anyone see the picture that *********** project posted on their facebook page? It’s a comparison of how much lead and arsenic are in orijen food compared to human regulations and category average. It definitely has me concerned.
I’ve also noticed that their nutritional value rating is gone. I really have to wonder how they calculated it in the first place.
It seems too that several foods which preciously had 5 stars are a bit lower down in the ratings, and vice versa, with the trendy, holistic feeds now being showcased on their first page :/
Methinks there is something rotten in the state of Denmark.
CleanLabelProject is a sham… They don’t share any data.
Anyone can put up a website and assign stars…
The whole site is garbage. They did a AMA on Reddit and we’re ripped apart.
Do not trust CleanLabelProject
The *********** Project, which ranked pet foods based on relative contamination levels, provides a link to buy even the lowest rated pet food brands via Amazon.com. The organization earns a 4 percent commission from these sales. However, Jaclyn Bowen, executive director of *********** Project, doesn’t see this as contradictory…
(Excerpt from:) http://www.petfoodindustry.com/articles/6498-clean-label-project-earns-from-low-rated-pet-food-sales?v=preview
Here’s the most recent link of CBS interviewing “*********** Project” asking ***, why didn’t they release any test results to the public….
There’s a video for people who have problems understanding why *** didn’t release test result (Figazzzii) can watch the *** interview on video or there’s also a script of the interview…. http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2017/05/24/lead-mercury-arsenic-cadmium-found-in-popular-pet-foods/
I commend *********** Project for all the hard work they have done, so now pet consumers
can make a healthy decision when buying pet foods…
*** have given all the test results to the Pet Food Companies that rated HIGH in TOXIC contaminates, which I think was the commendable thing to do, so now hopefully these pet food companies WILL fix the problem & hopefully these pet food formula’s that had very high readings (more then 1/2 the recommended amount) will appear on the ***’s good list next year…..
Thank-You Graig S for making us aware of *** good work… 🙂
I find it convenient that a no name “Lab” who’s website was registered (3/28/16) a month after the CleanLabelProject website was registered (2/16/16) and is located in the same city as you did all of the “testing” for free.
You are delusional if you think Purina is better than Acana, Origen, Fromm, Etc..
Also *********** Project is misleading the general public by expressing their findings in different measurements of units in (PPB – parts per billion) instead of (PPM – parts per million), in which most of the heavy metals are reported by scientific research community in PPM. General person would worry about 5,500 ppb, which is also equal to 5.5 ppm and let’s assume the safety limit is 10 ppm. If pet owners are not paying attention to the units of measurement, they will scare to death about 5,500 number.
I just spent some time going through the report. A lot of grocery store dog food received 5 stars while many of the expensive food received only one star. So the report purely based on the containmentation, not the nutritional value?
*********** Project is releasing more test results mid August 2017, go on the *********** Project link join to get news letters… http://www.*********************/product-ratings/pet-food/
a c – maybe these supermarket pet foods are using better quality ingredients, their ingredients may not be the best ingredients to feed a dog but they don’t have the toxins & contaminates like the more expensive brands have….. Looks like some pet food companies are cutting corners & buying cheaper ingredients to save money…..
You may be correct. Supermarket pet food are better quality ingredients but not the best ingredients. They will not kill your dogs with toxins and contanimates, but they are usually full of fillers that may not be good for long term health. Do we want to pay more for expensive brands with toxins and contaminates or pay less for dog food that’s lack of nutrients? What a hard choice!
The Clean Lanel Project report said grain free dog food are usually with most toxins. Do Dog Food Advisor recommended dog food also taken *********** Project report into consideration?
Pet food companies that cut corners and buying cheap, toxic, and contaminated ingredients should be shut down immediately. They shouldn’t be allowed to be in pet food business.
Im bout to pull my hair out
Why? It’s total BS.
Just find a vet that you trust and can work with.
All right, at first this CleanLabelProject report threw me for a loop. I started looking for another brand of kibble based on ***’s findings. What they deemed to be healthier for our dogs have corn meal as the first ingredient for starters. They included primarily plant based proteins and other carbs that I do not eat let alone our dogs.
As we are transitioning our two dogs from kibble based diets to primarily raw diet and the occasional kibble included meal we are not changing from Orijen. I think about how unhealthy it was for my husband and I on a high carb diet so why should we subject our dogs to the same high carb, high fat stuff?
We give our dogs Organic Bragg’s ACV, prebiotics and probiotics, Organic Coconut Oil and minimal kibble that has a low carbohydrate percentage ratio. I believe in the “everything in moderation” along with a nice piece of beef rather than this report as gospel and a grain of any kind.
there were other good quality 5 star brands that didn’t have corn or corn meal, these test were to expose pet food companies that are using meats/ingredients that are high in toxins & contaminates…
“I and Love and You” “Smallbatch” “Sojo” “Canidae” “Wellness” “Stella & Chewy” “Nutro” “Solid Gold” “Primal Pets” “Nutrisource” “Petcurean” “Artemis” these brands all got 5 stars & they do not use corn & are low in Carbs. http://www.*********************/category/product-list/dog-cat-food/dog-food/dry-dog-food/
Don’t feed a kibble that’s real high in meat protein% & no fish based kibbles, fresh meat that you would eat add to your dogs diet instead of feeding a kibble that’s real high in protein, pet food companies are not going to use quality human grade meats in kibbles so add your own…..
I wonder if the dog food reviews/recommendations for best dog food from dogfoodadvisor.com also take the reports from ********************* into consideration.
Dog Food Advisor does not take any of the *********** Projects results into consideration in their ratings. There is an article on the site called “How we rate dog food” that explains their rating system.
Excerpt from a recent discussion on this topic: https://disqus.com/home/discussion/dogfoodadvisor/acana_regionals_usa_dry/#comment-3352454949
Mike Sagman Mod Caroline C • 2 months ago
Exercise caution when relying on these kinds of reports.
When testing any (human or pet) food, the results can differ significantly from day to day based on the specific farm or batch used as a source for any one individual ingredient.
As with any laboratory study, it is absolutely critical to collect a statistically significant (large) number of test samples from multiple batches to avoid a misleading variable known as sampling error. Read about that here:
In addition, guidelines used for interpreting the results can also be change or manipulated. This can cause certain products to move from one rating category to another — and even from “best” to “worst” lists. Read about that here:
By the way, Champion Petfoods, the maker of Acana and Orijen, has recently (2017) been recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) for its food safety program at the company’s new Kentucky DogStar facility. You can read about that here:
You can also learn about the GFSI program here:
Hope this helps.
See recent comment on this topic by the moderator.
Finally *********** project has released their 2nd study on dog & cat foods & have also added a few more brands…..
These brands below got 1- 2 stars for being high in Toxic Metals & Acrylamides & BPA/BPS. but it’s only certain formula’s that got 1 star not all their formula’s got 1 star, some brands did have a few of their formula’s with 1 star, this might explain why some pets were really sick this year, look & see did the brand/formula you were feeding your dog get 1-2 star?…
click on link below
read then scroll back up, look to your left & click on “Dry Dog Food” to find out which formula’s got 5 stars & less.
Brands that got 5 Stars- I & Love & You, Nutro, Canidae, Canidae’s cheaper brand “Under The Sun”, Purina, Trudog, Simply Nourish, Eagle Pack…
Brands with 1 & 2 stars are on pages 11 to 16, you can also click on “Brand Report Cards” link down the bottom …..
I was VERY surprised “Fromm” had 4 formula’s with 1 star & the rest of Fromm formula’s only got 2 & 3 stars, People are always posting how good their dogs are doing on Fromm but I wonder how good their dogs will be doing after just eating Fromm for 2-4 years?…. This is why it’s best to rotate between a few different brands so your dog isn’t eating the same food 24/7…
*Brand formula’s that got 1 Star.
TOTW, Merrick, Acana, Orijen, bbf, Timberwolf, Earthborn Holistic, Fromm, Greenies, Holistic Select, American Journey, Kirkland, High Tek, Natures Variety, Blue. Only Natural Pet, Natures lodic, Special Kitty, Lotus, Wet Nose, Primal, Old Mother Hubbard, Castor & Pollux, Open farm, Milk Bone, Halo, Natural Balance, Nutri-Source, Solid Gold, Diamond, Petcurean, Racheal Ray-Nutrish, Meow Mix, Trudog, Pup-Peroni, Nature’s Planet-Organics, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Dog for Dog, Milos Kitchen, Dogswell Nutrisca.
Batch analysis ratings posted by ********************* and other similar websites can certainly be helpful.
However, we recommend readers exercise a reasonable degree of caution when relying exclusively on these kinds of reports.
That’s because when testing any pet (or human) food, the results can differ from day to day and vary significantly based on the specific farm or batch used as a source for any individual ingredient.
As with any laboratory study, it is absolutely critical to take a statistically significant (large) number of test samples from multiple batches to avoid a potentially misleading variable known as sampling error. You can read about that important subject here:
In addition, guidelines used for interpreting the results can also be changed or manipulated. This can cause certain products to be move from one rating to another. And even from “best” to “worst” lists. This has apparently already been a problem. You can read about that issue here:
Giving any one brand a sweeping endorsement (or rejection) based on the sampling of one single batch taken from one individual product line at one point in time could be misleading and provide a false sense of security (or concern) regarding positive test results.
Even with fresh human foods (like strawberries or beef), there can be significant differences associated with test results from one batch of raw materials to the next, many times related to the soil conditions of one plot of land versus another from the same region.
What’s more, conclusions drawn from single batch testing can produce important inconsistencies. For example, on the website you reference, when you use the search box for specific brands (like Nutro, Orijen, Purina, and others), you’ll find 5-star, 3-star and 1-star individual recipes (products).
Try doing the same thing for other brands (like Nature’s Variety or Canidae) and in many cases, you’ll get similar results.
It would seem to us that the fairest way to draw accurate conclusions regarding food testing would be to collect test samples from multiple batches from different lots and collected over an extended period of time.
Otherwise, we could unfairly judge the safety of one food and give a misleading thumbs up for another.
We commend *** for its efforts. And we look forward to learning more about how its findings compare with those of others… especially to test results verified by independent third parties, peer-reviewed studies and those of the companies themselves.
Yet we’re also concerned about ***’s lack of complete transparency and its failure to share actual test results with the public on its website.
In any case, until each batch is tested by every company with results posted on every label…
And since there’s no way of knowing which “top-rated” recipes could unexpectedly contain hidden contaminants and become the low-rated brands of tomorrow…
We continue to urge pet owners to practice the commonsense risk reduction strategies associated with the menu diversification and diet rotation methods favored by this website.
Until *** becomes more transparent with its test data and its controversial claims have been verified by an independent third party or by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, we ask readers to refrain from posting any further references to this organization or its opinions anywhere on this website.
*********** Project is a national non-profit with the mission to bring truth and transparency to consumer product labeling. We do this by using data and science to reveal true product quality and purity and empower consumer to make their own choices. Through the resulting shifting economics, we aim to serve as the catalyst to change the definition of food and consumer product safety in America.
Given the humanization of pet food over the past several years coupled with the scandals and recalls, we were especially interested in what was truly behind all these “Feed them like Family”, “Natural”, “Human-grade”, etc. claims. For us, it was about seeing past the comfort and security that pet food brands marketing departments sell, and get right to the data and science about the true ingredient quality. This impartiality only comes through testing. When we began this pet food study, we assumed that these companies were regularly screening for environmental toxins alongside more conventional foodborne contaminants (like salmonella). Our results clearly indicate otherwise. We believe consumers have a right to know what’s in the products they buy.
When we initially started this project, we utilized Nielson reports to pull the products that made up 90% of the overall retail sales of pet foods. From there, we visited specialty pet food stores and spoke with consumers and team members to ask what people were buying. Our approach to the sampling was simple and why *********** Project is unique is clear- we simulate the consumer shopping experience. We went to grocery stores, pet food stores, and online retailers and purchased products just like any consumer would. We tested over 1000 of America’s best-selling dry and wet dog foods, cat foods, and treats for over 130 environmental and industrial contaminants and toxins like heavy metals, pesticide residues, antibiotic residues, plasticizers, melamine, acrylamide, and mycotoxins. We amassed over 130,000 data points, benchmarked them, and put the findings on our website in the form of a 5-star rating system. The products that we personally purchased and tested are literally the exact same products that are in pantries across America. For us, we don’t trust label claims, we trust analytical chemistry because gas chromatography and Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry doesn’t lie.
We agree that sampling error is a risk in any scientific study, and you have correctly pointed out that random sampling of sufficient size is essential to minimizing the risk of sampling error leading to a false positive or false negative result (so-called “Type I” and “Type II” errors). However, there are two important distinctions here that we would like to stress as to why we chose the sampling strategy that we did.
First, at the product level – while you make a valid point that sampling repeatedly from different batches for an individual product would result in a more accurate representation of the “true” contaminant level of a single product this, in our opinion, misses important quality and supplier assurance implications of our results. If these companies, as many of them have repeatedly assured us, are conducting rigorous supplier assurance and quality assurance programs, single “fluke” high values should be exceedingly rare. While sample variability does occur, a robust quality program should severely limit the variability (and the levels of these contaminants). This is particularly important given that there is no maximum tolerance level for these contaminants in the pet food space. As a side note, the argument that “the product is only loaded with known carcinogens occasionally” doesn’t reassure us very much. Consider the analogy of food borne pathogens like salmonella, e.coli, or listeria – certainly there is variability as to how much of these bacteria are present in raw ingredients, but rigorous quality assurance programs or kill steps bring the variability in finished products to almost zero. This is why the presence of these bacteria cause headlines when they occur in finished foods – we have systems in place that should prevent them. This is not the case for the contaminants we measure in the pet food space—but it should be. All brands, regardless of their score, should be vigilant regarding these contaminants and should take proactive steps to improve the status of the industry.
Second, at the brand level: It is important to note that decisions about a brand (for example, the brand report cards released September 18, 2017) are not based off single product ratings, instead they are based on the average performance of multiple products within a brand. When data is aggregated across a group, the “true” value being estimated is that of the brand, not the product. As such, when we give the “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” to a brand, this is based on the weight of evidence from multiple products. This means that our brand ratings, and the conclusions we draw about the performance of brands, are arguably the least likely to be impacted by sampling error.
For us at *********** Project, we refer to ourselves as the environmental and industrial contaminant and toxin people. That’s who we are, the mission we hold, and the conversation we are looking to have with consumers. To us, so often we hear about food safety issues happening at burrito restaurants and cruise ships (e.coli, listeria, salmonella, etc.), but what people don’t talk about is the long term adverse health effects associated with chronic exposure to industrial and environmental toxins and contaminants with links to diseases like cancer- for ALL living things. To us, first, it’s do no harm, start with high quality – not harmful ingredients – and then dive into how to formulate the most nutritious foods. This should not be a novel concept.
To us at *********** Project, there is no such thing as healthy poison. You can read more information about our position here. http://www.*********************/white-paper/
I really appreciate *********** Project Testing pet foods and hopefully bring a change to the pet food industry. I do believe we should be able to buy safe non toxic food for our pets ~ I also wish to see more labeling as my dog ( besides many others) needs a lower sodium dog food. I need to jump through hoops emailing and calling companies to find out what their sodium level is in a certain food. Some cant even give me the mg per 100 kcal amount that I need and I am left to try and figure it out for myself. Above you wrote ” We believe consumers have a right to know what’s in the products they buy”. Why isnt the toxic stuff that you tested for posted so we can make a better decision on what foods to purchase. I would like to see for myself what was found. If you happen to test for sodium level etc ~ that information would be very helpful if it was published. I hope to see more testing and disclosure in the future and I really hope the dog food companies step up and make their pet foods safe.
Due to recent discourteous exchanges between certain participants, some comments have been removed. This thread is closed until further notice.
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