Would you still buy pet food if you knew that it contains shark meat? As a shark lover, I know I would not purchase food that contains these endangered species.
Marine conservationists Ben Wainwright and Ian French decided to test 45 different cat food products in Singapore. These pet food products are made in Thailand and sold in Singapore.
Out of the 16 various brands of pet food and 144 samples, 31% of them contained shark DNA. Are you running to read the label on your pet’s food now?
Analyzing Pet Food
Firstly, how did the researchers analyze this data? Secondly, what does it mean for your next pet food purchase trip?
French and Wainwright used DNA barcoding to analyze pet food. This process uses strands of DNA and compares them to sequences on file.
The study found that almost a third of pet food contains shark meat. Blue shark, silky shark, and whitetip reef shark meat were all found in the samples.
None of the food brands mentioned this in their ingredients list. Instead, they use terms such as ‘ocean fish,’ ‘whitebait,’ or ‘white fish’.
Blue sharks are not protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Silky sharks are protected under CITES Appendix II. Species under Appendix II are not in danger of extinction.
They would be in danger of over-exploitation if not closely monitored. It appears that they need to do a better job at monitoring.
What’s in Your Can?
I always read the pet food ingredients label. If one of those ingredients were ‘shark meat,’ I would put the can of food down. Wouldn’t you?
Brands such as Fancy Feast, Whiskas, and Sheba, all contained meat from sharks. All of these brands are available in the USA as well.
Gary Stokes, the founder of NGO OceansAsia, is aware of the issue. He said this has been a problem for years and is widespread. These sharks should be protected under CITES, yet they are smuggled and used in pet food instead.
In the past 50 years, we have decreased our shark population tremendously. This is due to overfishing and little to no shark regulations across the globe.
If we continue to turn a blind eye, we will lose our valuable shark species.
If your pet food contains vague words like “ocean-fish” or “whitefish”, you might reconsider purchasing it again.