Understanding Human Grade

By WagWell Team
April 24, 2024

Finding the right food and treats to give your pup is one of the harder decisions in pet parenthood. As pet owners, we’re constantly bombarded with terms like “human-grade” and “feed-grade” when choosing the best food for your dog. But what do these labels really mean, and how do they impact the quality and nutritional value of the products we’re feeding our dogs? 

Understanding the Claim: “Human-Grade”

In the past, regulations in the pet industry have been minute, that is until regulatory bodies like the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) and the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) decided to take things into their own hands. AAFCO regulates much of the dog food industry and imposes regulations on companies to create a more transparent window for consumers to view the products they buy.


To use this claim, dog treats and food must meet stringent criteria set forth by regulatory bodies like AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials). These criteria ensure that the food adheres to the same safety standards as food meant for human consumption. 


These criteria cover many aspects, including the following.


  • Ingredient Quality: This encompasses opting for high-quality, wholesome ingredients that are free from artificial additives, preservatives, and filers.  Human-grade treats must utilize ingredients that meet the same rigorous standards that are used in foods intended for human consumption. 
  • Sourcing Practices: Ethical and sustainable sourcing practices are paramount, ensuring that the ingredients are sourced responsibly and do not pose any risks to human or animal welfare. 
  • Manufacturing Processes: From hygiene and sanitation practices to quality control measures, every step of the production process is meticulously monitored to uphold the integrity and safety of the final product.
  • Packaging Standards: Dog treats and foods labeled as “human grade” must be packaged in materials that protect them from contamination and preserve their freshness and quality. 


Simply put: A true “human-grade” claim means that even you could eat your pup’s food!

Why is “Feed-Grade” Different?

There is a simple difference between feed-grade and human-grade dog products; the ingredients are not fit for human consumption, and the manufacturing factory does not meet the stringent requirements needed to produce food fit for human consumption. Feed-grade dog foods and treats are allowed to include “4D” meats, which means the meat is sourced from dying, dead, diseased, and disabled animals. 


Human-grade foods have high standards placed on their ingredient lists and manufacturing processes. Every ingredient must pass the high standards for human consumption and must be made in a human food facility. Human-grade dog food and treats are processed, inspected, and have passed manufacturing regulations that are designed to assure safety for consumption by humans. 

Is Human-Grade Nutritionally Superior?

It isn’t as easy to say that one category of food is more nutritious than the other, as this classification aims to shed light on the ingredients and manufacturing process, rather than the nutritional facts themselves. While human-grade diets have strict requirements surrounding the ingredients and manufacturing process, this does not automatically translate to being better food for your pet. 


Low-quality filler ingredients, such as potato, rice, pasta, squash, and barley are all considered human–grade but provide little to no nutritional value for your pup. Using these ingredients allows brands to keep their human-grade claim, but does not elevate the nutrition in the food. Therefore, a human-grade claim can show that a brand is manufacturing its products to high standards. Still, it is detrimental to consider the nutritional composition and actual ingredients before assuming a human-grade dog food will be better than a feed-grade product. 

Key Takeaways

One of the best pieces of advice that pet owners can take away from this, is to learn about the food and treats they’re supplying to their beloved pets. While websites such as dogfoodadvisor.com can help decide the best food for your pet, they are not always accurate and can provide misleading information. Researching the nitty-gritty behind why a brand names their food “Beef Dinner” or how to decipher that back panel of ingredients can provide heaps of insight that will lead your dog to a nutritional paradise. As always, WagWell keeps your dog wagging and well. 





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