Study Finds High Levels of Contaminants in Pet Food

May 25, 2017

2 Min Read
Study Finds High Levels of Contaminants in Pet Food
Many samples of pet food tested by the Clean Label Project tested positive for harmful toxins. Image courtesy of Flickr user Sh4rp_i

A new study examining environmental and industrial contaminants in 900 pet food products from 74 brands sold in the United States found that many products tested contain high levels of dangerous toxins.

The Clean Label Project’s report on pet food notes that 75% of products analyzed contained levels of arsenic more than double the EPA’s maximum level in drinking water. 82% of products tested positive for amounts of lead that exceeded EPA maximum levels in drinking water, and 94% of tested products contained higher amounts of cadmium than the EPA maximum drinking water level. Some products contained 16 times more lead than levels recorded in contaminated drinking water in Flint, MI.

“Companies may be unaware these chemicals are in their products, as many of these tests are not routine or required – but that doesn’t make the presence of these toxins any less dangerous,” Jackie Bowen, executive director of the Clean Label Project, said in a statement. “The rapid expansion of manufacturing and outsourcing has made an impact on the purity of not just pet food, but all food – and the only way to fix it is to increase awareness and demand action.”

Researchers also examined the nutritional qualities of the food products, discovering a “disconnect” between the actual quality of pet food and the perceptions of consumers. Though many pet food products are now marketed as “human-grade” or “natural,” the Clean Label Project said that higher prices do not always translate to better ingredients.

The study found that products with “grain free” labeling contained higher levels of toxins compared to products that were not marked as “grain free.” Tests of food made from Turkey turned up clearer of toxins than other protein sources, while foods made from fish as its main protein source tended to be among the worst for contaminants.

To view the results of Clean Label Project’s study, visit

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