Published: Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Last week my attention was drawn to an American website which grades and classifies dog foods by “reading and interpreting the labelling.” If this sounds like a rant, forgive me. I do get annoyed when pet owners are being misled and what is essentially my life’s work is under attack without me having the opportunity to respond.
The US site carried a critical review of Burns and some people think that is Burns Pet Nutrition in the UK. There was a connection; the US Burns which is no longer trading was my brother’s food and the formulations and thinking were based on my principles. This US site’s assessments claim to be unbiased but evaluations are based on the principle that more meat is better. By this yardstick Burns foods aren’t up to much because they don’t have a high meat content. Elsewhere on the US website, maize was damned as an unsuitable ingredient for dog foods.
I looked into this a bit further and found that the site was hosted by a person whose training and expertise lay in the field of human Restorative and Cosmetic Dentistry. Now in the words of a wiser man than me, ‘Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not their own facts.’ I agree that it is desirable that dog food labelling is understood. I wrote to the gentleman in question saying that explaining the label is fine; it is the application of his own (biased) interpretation which is potentially misleading. Self-proclaimed experts, and that includes me, have a duty to get the facts right and not to perpetuate myths as fact. If Burns were launched in the USA it would be rated by this site as below average whereas dog owners who feed Burns consistently rate it as excellent. And that is my greatest criticism of this approach to nutrition - it is formulaic and takes no account as to what actually happens to the dogs which eat the food. And that’s what really counts.
To be fair, the host of the site told me that he was having a re-think. His criticism of maize had been written many years ago and he now had a more accepting view of corn and other cereal grains.
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