Eating dog food might sound like a punishment, but for a select few, it's a way of life. In light of recent pet food recalls, health conscious pet food companies have taken to hiring professional taste testers to ensure a quality standard.
"The more we make pet food like the owner's food, the more comfortable we think customers will be serving it," Simon Allison tells the Mirror. Simon is the senior pet produce technologist at Marks & Spencer, a UK-based retail chain with a luxury line of pet food.
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According to Simon, the job isn't all that bad, "I love my job. It's just the same as if I worked in the ready meals department." And like taste testing human recipes, there's an art that goes beyond just taste. "I've trained my palate to look for materials we will not allow in the recipe, such as tripe. Pet owners react badly to the smell of tripe."
Marks & Spencer isn't alone in hiring staff for taste testing their products. Enter Freshpet's intern, Reid, who hosts a web series called Intern Eats where he chows down on kibble for the camera.
Intern Eats not only makes for an entertaining social media presence, but it also serves as brilliant marketing. There is something reassuring about seeing Reid willingly go in for seconds during each taste test.
"By actually tasting the food ourselves, I think it's a sound way of walking our own talk and helping to assure people we actually mean what we say about product integrity and quality," says Lucy Postins, CEO (and taste tester) of The Honest Kitchen, another pet food manufacturer. In 2013 The Honest Kitchen became the first pet food manufacturer to receive a 'human grade' rating from the FDA.
Image Source: NY Daily News
"There are a lot of people who think their pets are inferior and don't deserve quality food," Lucy says in an interview with the NY Daily News, "But so many people are becoming educated on conventional pet food ingredients and production that they want to make a move away from that."
Being able to make 'human grade' pet food means more than just being able to market to health conscious pet owners, it also benefits their pets. According to a survey Lucy conducted: 74% of her customers saw improvement in their pets' energy level and well-being. The organic diet also improved a majority of pets' coats and weight.