Questions have been raised over research into the mineral content of pet foods undertaken by The University of Nottingham (UoN) and broadcast on BBC television programme Trust Me I’m a Vet.
In the show, which aired on BBC Two on 3 May, Mike Davies, associate professor in small animal clinical practice at The UoN, analysed “nearly 200” different wet and dry pet foods. Dr Davies and his team tested those products against 11 of the 13 guidelines set down in EU legislation to maintain good animal health.
Viewers were told The UoN researchers were surprised to find “significant differences” between the required essential mineral content of wet and dry pet foods. No specific pet food manufacturing companies, or products, were named.
The programme sparked a swift reaction from the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA), which said: “The PFMA and our members have serious questions about the research undertaken by The UoN and aired by the BBC. We also note The UoN laboratory is not accredited to carry out tests on pet food.
“We are disappointed The UoN has, so far, not provided requested details of its study and the products tested so manufacturers can investigate this matter further. We are also disappointed, despite discussing our concerns in detail with the BBC, they have broadcast the piece, which has led to an unbalanced and inaccurate portrayal of the industry.
“We are confident the foods produced are safe and contribute to the health and well-being of pets.”
The UoN responded to the PFMA’s concerns in a statement jointly signed by nutrition expert David Gardner and Dr Davies. They said the method of analysis used was “…highly similar, if not more advanced, than the current industry standard” as described in EU documents.
The authors accepted The UoN laboratory was not accredited to analyse feedstuffs, but added: “The hypothesis-driven research was conducted by clinician-scientists and undergraduate students with an interest in companion animal nutrition to achieve an evidence-based conclusion.”
It went on: “The UoN has not set out to tarnish the reputation of individual companies or individual pet food products, more to highlight the EU guidelines in place – however vague they may be – are, on the whole, not being met by the majority of wet, less so dry, pet foods sold throughout the UK.
“On the basis of our research, we can make some simple recommendations: companies marketing pet foods as complete in the UK should check each batch complies with EU guidelines and that an independent authority carries out such monitoring.”
- Read the full story in the 22 May issue of Veterinary Times.