Clean Label Project's Pet Food Study Rating System
Some pet owners have been frustrated by Clean Label Project’s choice to represent the data as a rating system—and not expose raw data. There are multiple reasons for our decision. First, and foremost, we do provide a summary of the data -- our five-star rating system -- free of charge. The stars are not arbitrary, but the result of a carefully developed algorithm synthesizing the results of dozens of analytical tests and measurements across a database of nearly 1,000 pet food products. We developed this system in conjunction with data scientists, veterinarians, chemists and using survey data from over a thousand consumers just like you to find the best way to synthesize the hundreds of data-points collected on each product to make it easier to interpret and use the data in a meaningful way. Our science-driven system is designed to save time -- distilling thousands of test results and other data points into a single rating system. However, we have heard your feedback and are compiling additional data to release to the public. We want to be transparent with you, because we know that completing our mission of changing the conversation around pet food safety requires your help.
Second, we want pet lovers and consumers to understand that this is an industry-wide issue. The rating system is designed to show that the toxins and contaminants are not isolated to large corporations—or small independent companies. Brands can easily have one product on the top ten list and another receive a one-star rating. There is no list of ‘great brands’ that are reliably free of toxins across the board. We understand the inclination to switch foods in an attempt to raise the purity level—but the truth is, the entire industry needs to change the way they do business for there to be consistent, positive change for your pets, for our pets, and our nation’s pets. As a nonprofit, our loyalty is to consumers, but it is our intention to work with the brands to improve the products produced by identifying the sources and decreasing the toxins, and that means building trust with the companies as well as consumers. There are brands out there, big and small, that care deeply about the safety of the product it produces, and are genuinely committed to continuous quality improvement, just like us. We have had conversations with a number of brands’ leadership and food safety teams that were appalled to discover the contaminants in their food, and have immediately pledged to work with us to reduce the levels of contaminants in their products. That gives us hope, and it should give you hope, too.
Last, when we began this pet food study, we assumed, like many of you do, that these companies were regularly screening for environmental contaminants alongside more conventional food-born contaminants (like salmonella). Our results clearly indicate otherwise. In light of this, it is not surprising to us that pet food manufacturers are asking for raw data to be released free of charge. These manufacturers are well aware of the time and effort required to amass similar data on brand’s products, and have apparently so far been either unable to do so, unwilling to do so, or unwilling to share these results. Why? Ask them yourself.
How is it possible that a small nonprofit knows more about what is in a brand owner's pet food products than they do? That's a great question, and you should demand an answer from your brand’s leadership.