The alkaline food market has exploded in recent years, with manufacturers and distributors aggressively marketing high-end foods that are thought to boost immunity and reduce illness.
But the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) says that cat food products sold in the United States are “too alkali.”
According to the agency, cat food marketed in the U, Canada and Europe has a pH of 5.5 to 6.5.
While this may sound like a perfect balance for an animal’s health, it is too alkaline for the body.
The USDA has launched a new program to reduce the pH of cat food in the next two years, as part of a broader effort to reduce foodborne illness and promote animal health.
The FSA’s program is designed to help food manufacturers and retailers improve their products’ pH levels by eliminating or reducing artificial coloring, preservatives, additives and other unnecessary chemicals.
The new guidelines call for products to be labeled “as alkaline as possible” when used in their formulations, with the highest-quality ingredients such as calcium chloride, calcium oxalate, calcium carbonate, magnesium carbonate and calcium phosphate removed.
Products should also include a statement that they have been processed and manufactured in a lab.
Cat food marketed by a company in Europe, for example, should be labeled as “as pure as possible,” according to the new guidelines.
“The goal is to make food as alkaline to the body as possible and to make it more palatable for cats,” said USDA Food Safety & Inspection Service spokesperson Heather McGovern.
“There’s no scientific evidence that cats or any other animals need to have a pH higher than 6.4 to be healthy.”
The new standards are a response to the FDA’s findings in 2016 that cats and other large animals should be able to eat high-protein diets, and the FSA has also recommended lowering the pH level of foods marketed to humans and pets.
“In the United Kingdom, for instance, there are several brands of cat foods that have a higher pH than the FDA requires,” McGovern said.
“So this is a proactive response to those findings, as well as to consumer demands for more alkaline cat foods.”
The USDA is also making it easier for consumers to compare cat foods on a food label, allowing them to find the “best” cat food available, McGovern explained.
The government is also launching a “quality” brand-to-brand comparison program to help consumers make informed choices about cat food.
The program is currently in its early stages and the USDA has not yet launched a price comparison program.
The FDA has also launched a “branding” program that allows people to compare brands of products, with product descriptions and nutrition labels listed alongside products’ nutritional content.
The agency will also expand the use of the FDA-approved “brand identity” program to include cat food labels, to help manufacturers identify ingredients with unique names.
While the new labels will help consumers understand what products are available in their local market, they will also provide a better picture of what cat foods are actually safe to eat.
“We believe this is the first step to making it possible for people to make better food choices and make better choices about how they feed their cats,” McWilliams said.