On a cat food label, what is the definition of all natural?
“All-natural” is a marketing term. There’s no legal definition but the implication is that no preservatives or artificial colors have been added and that natural preservatives, such as vitamin C or vitamin E, have been used. In addition, although these products may not contain added artificial preservatives, they can still include preservatives that are already in some items, such as meats, as well as synthetic or highly processed ingredients like imported gluten, chemical food dyes and synthetic preservatives.
Here’s the bottom line: It’s important to read the ingredient list to understand exactly what you’re giving your pet, but It may well be that the nutritional advice given to people also applies to pets: Feed fresh foods and avoid a diet high in over-processed foods. Until more is known about the effects of chemical additives to food, choosing a more natural diet for a pet may be the wisest choice
Some manufacturers of natural foods specifically mention two harmful chemical preservatives: Ethoxyquin and BHA/BHT; these are frequently found in pet foods but are banned from human use in many countries. While few studies have conclusively proven that synthetic preservatives have caused significant health problems in pets, they also have not been extensively studied. So there is a lot of speculation that they may be linked to a range of health issues, from minor skin problems to fatal cancers. Even though it does have some very limited use in human food, people do not eat food laced with ethoxyquin, BHT and BHA at every meal, unlike kibble-fed dogs and cats, and this has raised concerns.
Generally, pet foods labeled as “all-natural,” include things like USDA-inspected chicken, turkey and lamb, whole grain rice and barley, fresh fruits and vegetables, and Grade-A dairy products, they are richer in essential nutrients, they say, resulting in obtaining more nutrition from less food, with calories and fats in each formula balanced to fit their specific needs. Many nutrients, including proteins, carbohydrates and fiber are unaltered.
Some manufacturers of pet foods boast that they control cooking methods and use several quality checks to preserve nutrients. Many, especially proponents of raw food diets, insist that cooking above a certain temperature destroys nutrients and some manufacturers board multiple quality-control checks throughout the entire process, from the acquisition of raw materials, to the processing, to the retailers shelf.