Since You Asked: Tasty dog food. Yummy
When a TV commercial says a dog food has a "new and improved taste," how do manufacturers know the taste is new and improved?
— Hamid R., Ashland
What, by "new and improved taste" do you mean Kroger changed the name on its "Disney's 'Old Yeller' Chunk Style Dog Food"? Because we thought that was the pinnacle of bad taste. Maybe they're going to run with "Wilson Rawls' 'Where the Red Fern Grows' Gravy Style Dog Food"?
While we at Since You Asked would be delighted to see a group of serious scientists stand in line and taste Puppy Chow, that's not how it works.
Judgments and claims about dog food flavor are a guessing game. Each company tests taste a little differently.
Nestle Purina PetCare tries out its new recipes on a group of cats and dogs who reside at the Purina Pet Care Center. Scientists observe the animals to see how quickly they eat the new food, how much they consume and whether they continue to prefer the new recipe when offered alternatives, said Kerry Lyman, of Nestle Purina PetCare.
But scientists really don't know which food tastes better to a dog or cat, said Zibby Wilder, spokesperson for the Animal Protection Institute in Sacramento.
Manufacturers are not required to prove a product has a new and improved taste, she said. It's likely each pet has varying preferences.
"Companies can make any claim they want about the taste," Wilder said. "The fact is there is no scientific way to measure that unless dogs and cats could speak."
We really wish they could. And as far as we know, pet food manufacturers have not consulted with a the growing gaggle of pet psychics, though that would prove almost as amusing as taste-testing by pet dieticians.
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