AUBURN, Ky. — Members of Champion Petfoods’ Transparency Council published their first reports based on their initial visits to the manufacturer’s DogStar Kitchen in Kentucky on April 26.

Each of the four council members have experienced DogStar’s operations from start to finish, from ingredient in-take and cooking to food safety, quality management and packaging. They also visited one of its regional catfish suppliers.

Andrea Coffman, one of two consumers on the council, said during her visit to DogStar she observed thorough safety, quality and nutritional testing of each batch of product that came out of the kitchen. Coffman said Champion Petfoods shared background information about dietary requirements for pets, on which the manufacturer’s “biologically appropriate” philosophy translates into its formulas.

“I came to Champion with high expectations prepared to ask the hard questions and to be the eyes and ears of the public,” Coffman reported. “Having seen the operation from top to bottom I can say Champion didn’t settle on their kitchen design, and they don’t settle on their ingredients, suppliers or process either.”

Another Transparency Council member, Dr. Shawn Messonnier, DVM, commented on his experience visiting one of Champion’s regional catfish suppliers.

“We were there on the boat participating in the catch and observed how the crew carefully separated the best fish and threw the less desirable ones back in the lake. Formulating pet foods with larger amounts of fresh proteins like catfish and using the entire fish including muscle meat, organs and edible cartilage that dogs or cats would consume in the wild, helps Champion deliver on their nutrition claims without resorting to significant synthetic supplementation,” Messonnier said.

April Scott, a consumer on the council, said her ability to understand how and why the ingredients on a pet food label affect her pet’s health is essential to her.

“Champion has put a lot of thought and consideration into their recipes and food manufacturing process. They make sure the farm animals and fish are treated ethically and that’s important to me,” Scott added.

Along with exposing council members directly to its processes, Champion shared its standards for vetting and maintaining relationships with its suppliers.

“They don’t accept ingredients from any random supplier,” Scott reported, “each farm and fishery goes through an in-depth vetting process and must meet Champion’s strict standards and values.”

Transparency Council member Dr. Clayton Greenway reported he was impressed by Champion’s relationships with its suppliers.

“At one point, Chris Milam, head of Ingredient Innovation and Supplier Relationships, spoke about his main suppliers calling the owners by their first names,” Greenway said. “He had known them for decades. They weren’t just business partners, they were friends.”

Champion Petfoods launched its Transparency Council during Global Pet Expo in Orlando, Florida in March 2019.

“People no longer accept claims and assertions made by pet food – or any food companies really – at face value,” said Don King, VP of marketing for Champion. “They want to see with their own eyes what goes on in the kitchen and how ingredients are sourced to make the determination on the quality of the food they want to provide. That’s why we created the Transparency Council.”

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