Are you poisoning your pet? Clean Label Project releases pet food ratings

Posted at 1:10 PM, May 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-05 16:11:15-04

Do you know what your pets are really eating? We're not talking about the main ingredients.

The Clean Label Project tested 900 pet food products from 71 brands and screened for 130 toxins.

The levels they found can cause serious and expensive health issues for your pet.

Lori Morse has two cats and buys the food she knows they'll eat.

"It depends on the consistency. They like the pate, something easy to eat," she says.

Chances are you buy pet food that's easy and inexpensive for you and yummy for them. It's a no-brainer, right? Wrong.

The Clean Label Project used an independent lab to test top-selling pet food and treats.

Lori was shocked at what they found.

"I can't believe that any metals like that should be in any concentration in any pet food," she says.

They found arsenic (once known a primary ingredient in rat poison), cadmium (the active component in battery acid), lead and other cancer-causing contaminants.

"Never thought that... never, never in a million years," Lori says.

Lori searched the website to find the food and treats she buys. They ranked "average", which means it's not the safest option.

Annie's owner, Matthew, trusts the brand he buys.

"I chose it because it has a good reputation. It's known for quality and not using a lot of additives," he says.

So, we checked the list and Annie eats food that tested in "the most harmful" range.

"It's definitely a little alarming," he admits.

Each product tested gets one, three or five stars. With one star being the most toxic.

Jaclyn Bowen, the Executive Director of Clean Label Project, says the goal is to educate people about toxins in products.

"There's not a lot of studies out there that look at chronic exposure. Brand owners are not testing for this stuff."

Bowen says the lab made a surprising discovery.

"You assume that with that additional price it means additional quality, but literally we found no correlation between price and product purity."

Veterinarian, Dr. David Rosene, says this study plays a very important role in keeping your pet healthy and safe. But, he points out, the study doesn't include all aspects of nutrition.

"You still need to be aware of the nutrient quality, the quality of the brand, the national reputation, the ingredient list and whether it meets the food industry standards."

Also, beware of "marketing terms." Product labels are not regulated.

For example, "The Honest Kitchen" takes the top three spots on the list of dog treats with the most harmful toxins. But, the same brand also ranks number one for the purest dog treats.

The takeaway: do your research.

To search the brands you buy go to Click on the teal box to search by brand, protein source, product name, etc. Use the filter to further your search.