Pet Food Ingredients FAQs

Our Nutrition themed factsheets and information section contains a wealth of advice on ingredients. However, here we answer specific and common questions.

Does The Pet Food Industry Act Responsibly Towards The Environment?

The pet food industry constantly aims to meet its objectives in a manner which is responsible to society and the environment. Concern for environmental and ethical issues has led to the development of various voluntary policies within the industry such as those outlined on the Ingredients page. UK Pet Food also encourages the efficient use of energy (including reclamation) in the production of raw materials and packaging, and in pet food manufacturing and transportation.

The industry's use of by-products from the human food and agricultural industries prevents the need for, and the costs of, disposal. It reduces the price of meat for human consumption and reduces the demands on the human food larder. UK Pet Food members are skilled in converting these by-products into added-value pet foods which help to ensure proper nutrition and hence play a significant role in the health of the pet population. Under the Environmental Protection Act - Prescribed Processes Regulations, pet food manufacturers have to register their factories with their local authority and meet certain comprehensive standards.

We support:

The efficient use of energy, resources and water for the production of safe, palatable and nutritious pet food.

The minimisation of all waste that may arise from the manufacturing process, including packaging materials.

The responsible design, operation and maintenance of processes and plants to minimise adverse environmental impact on the local community and, in particular, to:

minimise emissions of harmful material to the environment

minimise objectionable odours

improve the appearance of manufacturing sites and premises where possible by means of landscaping and maintenance of buildings.

The use and development of appropriate packaging, without loss of safety or technological efficiency. Thus, fewer demands will be made on irreplaceable natural resources and packaging can be disposed of in a way which causes minimum impact on the environment. Schemes for the reduction, re-use, recycling and incineration of waste to reclaim energy are particularly important.

The provision of labelling which is clear, unambiguous and not misleading to consumers about the environmental impact or otherwise of a particular product.

The industry recognises that responsibility to the environment is as central to good manufacturing practice as considerations of safety and quality UK Pet Food members are informed about, and comply with, relevant national and local environmental controls. Accordingly, we recognise that legislation to protect the environment should be based on sound scientific evidence.

What Does Meat And Animal Derivatives (4% Chicken) Mean?

When a label says meat and animal derivatives (4% chicken) on the pet food label does this really mean that there is only 4% meat in the products ?

No. Each recipe includes a blend of different ingredients including meats such as chicken, lamb, beef etc which are all combined into a food which will meet, in part or entirely, the daily nutritional requirements of the pet animal.

The 4% declaration is a legal labelling requirement which represents the minimum percentage content of the characterising ingredient guaranteed to be present by the manufacturer.

Does Commercial Pet Food Contain Artificial Additives?

The use of additives in both human and pet food is based on the safety standards that the additive:

                       - must be necessary 

                       - must be effective

                       - must be safe.

Additives are used in both human and pet food to keep it's quality, texture, consistency, appearance, odour or taste. Additives are used in pet food in very small amounts. Some additives are derived from naturally occurring materials (usually plants) and others are artificially produced substances. They have been used for centuries to preserve food and provide a range of palatable attractive and affordable foods.

For foods which are not canned, preservatives and antioxidants are very important for maintaining the safety of the food supply as well as extending the product's shelf life. They help prevent spoilage from microbiological contamination and stop fats from going rancid. Spoiled foods carry the risk of food poisoning if consumed.

Pet food manufacturers adhere strictly to the legislation governing what can and cannot be used in pet food -The Feeding Stuffs Regulations 2005. These regulations lay down the categories and levels of additives permitted in pet food.

There is no veterinary evidence to suggest that additives used at permitted levels in pet food are in anyway harmful to healthy dogs and cats.

What Typical Materials Are Used In Pet Food?

Members of UK Pet Food only use materials taken from animals which have been inspected and passed as fit for human consumption. Materials are carefully selected for the contribution that they will make to the nutritional value, quality and palatability of the finished product. Member companies only use materials from animal species which are generally accepted in the human food chain.

This rules out the use of material from horses, ponies, whales, and other sea mammals, and many other species.

The pet food industry uses materials from beef, lamb, poultry and pork origin, fish, shellfish, rabbit and game.

What Is Meant By The Term Ash On A Pet Food Label?

Ash is a legal term which represents the mineral content of the food and is determined chemically by the burning of the product. It is a legal requirement to include the ash content on a pet food label.

What Is Meant By The Term Meat And Animal Derivatives?

Meat and animal derivatives are legally defined in the Feeding Stuffs Regulations 2005. They are sourced from animals which have been inspected and passed as fit for human consumption and are the parts of the animal which are surplus to the requirements of the human food industry in the UK eg. heart, lung, or muscle meat, which may not be traditionally eaten by people in this country.

What Defines A Food As Super Premium Or Premium?

In the UK there is no standard laid down which determines what constitutes a premium or super premium pet food. There can be a number of differences between a premium and super premium product and to some extent it depends on the focus and ethos of the manufacturer.

Factors include ingredients used, quality of ingredients and investment in innovation in the product. Manufacturers of a super premium product tend to include the latest nutritional developments in product formulation. As a result, Super premium diets will go beyond routine maintenance of health and see how health can be enhanced by using ingredients such as anitoxidants for immune support and glucosamine for joint care.