The cat food label says “human gradeâ€â€”so is it for me to eat?
It sounds impressive, but there are no legal definitions of “human grade” or “inspected for human consumption” when it comes to pet food products and it doesn’t even mean the product passed inspection for pet food. All it means is that it was inspected for humans—and could very well have been rejected, thus ending up in your cat’s food.
Those phrases, like “all natural” are marketing terms, and they are designed to appeal to the animal’s owner. For instance, “all-natural” implies that no preservatives or artificial colors have been added and that natural preservatives, such as vitamin C or vitamin E, have been used but, 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.
AAFCO (The American Association of Feed Control Officials) is considered to be the foremost authority on pet nutrition and, according to the organization, the definition of meat is as follows:
“Meat is the clean flesh derived from slaughtered mammals and is limited to that part of the striate muscle which is skeletal or that which is found in the tongue, in the diaphragm, in the heart, or in the esophagus; with or without the accompanying and overlying fat and the portions of the skin, sinew, nerve, and blood vessels which normally accompany the flesh. It shall be suitable for use in animal food. If it bears a name descriptive of its kind, it must correspond thereto.”
Can people eat cat food? Sure, but it probably wouldn’t taste very good. A typical can of cat food includes: meat by-products, chicken by-product meal, turkey by-product meal, ash and taurine. There’s nothing too horrible, but it’s designed to meet the cats’ nutritional requirements, not ours—and that means it’s just not a healthy human diet; on the other hand, our liver, kidneys and skin do a terrific job of removing foreign substances from the body, especially mild ones like those found in cat food.