The Importance of Transparency in Pet Food

July 2019


By DR. SHAWN MESSONNIER, DVM

Pet owners have many choices of what to feed their pets. In fact, the choices these days are so numerous that pet parents are easily overwhelmed. And whom are we to believe? Should you believe an ad online or on TV? Should you believe a veterinarian whose training in school may have been influenced by a major pet food manufacturer who does not make the most holistic, natural diets? What about a pet store employee who has little or no training in nutrition?


With this in mind, Champion Petfoods has created a council of influential veterinarians and pet lovers called the Transparency Council. The goal of the Council is quite simple: share the truth with the pet-loving public about what pets need to eat and love to eat, and what's really in pet foods.

The Transparency Council examined every part of the DogStar Kitchen including the Fresh Transition Room where fresh ingredients are mixed with fruit, vegetables, and botanicals prior to entering the cooking area.



The idea of the Council is that transparency is very important these days to Pet Lovers. People are tired of great-sounding slogans that are not backed up with reality. As a pet owner and veterinarian, I share my clients’ concerns and want to know what’s in the food we serve our pets. We also want to know how that food is made, which for many manufacturers is a well-guarded secret (at Champion, they have opened their doors to the Council members and disclosed the details about their food, the food ingredients and sourcing, and the manufacturing process.)

Transparency is more than a word or claim; it’s an act of openness and disclosure. Champion is walking the walk with the Council and allowing outside third parties to see and report on what and how they do what they do. They are doing this because people want confirmation and validation of what companies claim about their pet food.

A recent study by the Food Marketing Institute in collaboration with Deloitte Consulting for the first time showed a dramatic change in shopping patterns for human food. Long-time drivers of purchase – taste, price, and convenience – were eclipsed by new criteria for deciding what to buy. Now the predominant considerations are transparency, visibility to the supply chain, food safety, and health and wellness. What’s happening here? The Internet age has enabled the ability to learn almost anything about everything. It has also ushered in an era when missteps by companies and brands are learned and circulated globally on a routine basis. The result is a consistent year-to-year decline in brand trust.

During the DogStar Kitchen Tour my fellow Transparency Council members and I looked, listened, and asked a lot of tough questions – the kinds of questions we think you’d ask.


The Transparency Council seeks to answer this decline in trust by truthfully reporting on what we see and hear. We go where the typical pet owner can’t go, and ask the tough questions the public wants answered but may not even think to ask.

As part of our mission to report on “everything you want and need to know about your pet’s food,” we are reporting on what’s involved in the entire food creation process:

- how the foods are made
- what's in the food
- how the food's ingredients are sourced
- whether the animals raised for the food have been humanely treated
- whether the farmers use sustainable and environmentally sound practices
- whether the product is highly processed
- how fresh the ingredients in the food are
The list goes on.

Unfortunately, until now in the pet food business, transparency has largely been absent beyond the assertions various brands make about what’s in the food. Pet Lovers are required to believe and trust what they’re being told often with no objective third-party reporting. This is increasingly difficult when trust is broken periodically through recalls and reports of occasional misrepresentation of ingredient quality by some pet food manufacturers.

DogStar Kitchen Manager, David Ruch (right), responds to our Transparency Council questions.


As Transparency Council members, we know that our fellow Pet Lovers want to be assured they are feeding their four-legged family members the best food available. We care because we have connected the dots between quality of diet and quality of life. Food may be the ultimate expression of love between us and our beloved pets.

We are here to serve our fellow Pet Lovers.

As a leading holistic veterinarian whose practice depends upon natural health, beginning with healthy diet, people look to me for guidance on nutrition so I need to know as much as I can about pet food. The Transparency Council has provided insight that would be hard to secure anywhere else on pet food making, and not available from any other pet food manufacturer.

We invite you to share this information with fellow pet lovers and use it when comparing brands of foods so you can make the best, most honest choice for your furry family members.

About Dr. Messonnier

Dr. Shawn Messonnier is a renowned U.S. veterinary physician, expert and author of numerous books including the “Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats.” He founded and practices at the Paws & Claws Animal Hospital in Plano, Texas.

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