Is Kibble #1? – Truth about Pet Food


Which style of pet food is recalled the most and the least…compared to sales?

Recall Data

Per the FDA Enforcement Report records, the total pounds of pet food recalled – from January 2012 through 2/26/2021 – is 307,782,790 pounds (excluding a few recalls that FDA data did not provide pound information). Broken down into styles of pet food:

  • Total pounds of kibble recalled is 2/3 of all pet foods recalled; 210,763,230 pounds.
  • Total pounds of canned pet food recalled is a little less than 1/3 of total pounds recalled; 94,794,209 pounds.
  • Total pounds of raw pet food recalled is 2,006,977 pounds.
  • Total pounds of other styles (dehydrated, cooked frozen, and toppers) is 218,374 pounds.

Pet owners have asked about the percentage of pounds sold compared to the percentage of pounds recalled, wondering if kibble recalls are not so dramatic as the pounds recalled indicates and wondering if raw recalls were actually a higher percentage contrary to what their pounds recalled indicates. So…we went in search of more information.

Market Share

Pounds of pet food produced was information we did not locate, but we did locate sales data of pet food – broken down into styles of food. PetFoodProcessing.net provided sales statistics for 2019 and 2020.

Based on industry sales data in 2019 (excluding data of semi-moist pet food):

  • kibble was 64.2% of pet food sales,
  • wet/can was 33.2% of pet food sales, and
  • refrigerated/frozen was 2.5% of pet food sales.

Based on industry sales data in 2020:

  • kibble was 62.8% of pet food sales,
  • wet/can was 33.9% of pet food sales, and
  • refrigerated/frozen was 3.1% of pet food sales.

The data showed that kibble sales decreased slightly from 2019 to 2020, wet/can sales increased slightly, and refrigerated/frozen (includes raw) increased slightly. Using similar increase or decrease of sales over the past nine years (the same 9 years we have recall data from), the estimated average percentage of sales for each style of pet food is:

  • kibble estimated 67% of all pet food sales 2012 – 2020,
  • wet/can estimated 31% of all pet food sales 2012 – 2020, and
  • refrigerated/frozen estimated 2% of all pet food sales 2012 – 2020.

How does percent of sales compare to percent of recalls?

Kibble/dry pet food:

Kibble pet foods recall percentage is slightly higher than percentage of sales.

Wet/can pet food:

Canned/wet pet foods recall percentage is almost equal to this category’s sales.

Refrig/frozen pet food (this category includes sales and recall data for raw pet food and cooked refrig/frozen pet food):

Raw pet food recall percentage is approximately 1/4 of the sales percentage.

The data shows that an equal percentage of kibble and canned pet foods are recalled compared to their percentage of sales. Whereas the data shows raw pet foods and frozen/refrigerated cooked styles of pet food are the least likely to be recalled compared to their percentage of sales.

Why were the styles of pet food recalled?

Kibble:

A total of 210,763,230 pounds of kibble has been recalled from 2012 through 2020. The causes of recall include:

  • 149,953,160 pounds for pathogenic bacteria;
  • 59,757,791 pounds for aflatoxin;
  • 1,000,997 pounds for excess/insufficient supplements;
  • 51,282 pounds for mold.

Can/wet:

A total of 94,794,209 pounds of canned/wet pet food has been recalled from 2012 through 2020. The causes of recall include:

  • 91,535,030 pounds for pentobarbital;
  • 1,771,499 pounds for foreign objects;
  • 1,233,358 pounds for excess/insufficient supplements;
  • 254,322 pounds for elevated thyroid hormone; and
  • 116,570 pounds for mold.

Raw:

A total of 2,006,977 pounds of raw pet food has been recalled from 2012 through 2020. The causes of recall include:

  • 1,975,579 pounds for pathogenic bacteria;
  • 30,150 pounds for foreign objects; and
  • 1,248 pounds for excess/insufficient supplements.

Other:

A total of 218,374 pounds of other styles of pet food (includes freeze dried, cooked sold refrigerated/frozen, and toppers) has been recalled from 2012 through 2020. The causes of recall include:

  • 116,570 pounds for mold; and
  • 101,804 pounds for pathogenic bacteria.

For all styles of pet food – the leading causes of recall are:

  1. Pathogenic Bacteria
  2. Pentobarbital
  3. Aflatoxins

Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
TruthaboutPetFood.com
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