Mars says pig hair in Pedigree is “natural,” so get over it

Mars Petcare says the prickly pig hair poking out of Pedigree’s MarroBone dog treats are just “natural fibers” and pet parents just need to chill.

Pedigree released a statement in attempt to reassure pissed off pet parents who have found mysterious fibers in Pedigree’s MarroBone treats are in fact pig hair, carefully describing the hair as a “natural fiber” instead of the more putrid, but accurate description “pig hair” or “pig fur.”

A spokeswoman for Mars Petcare – the company that makes Pedigree – explained that the fibers are pig hairs and that the hairs are safe for dogs to digest – and enjoy.


Mars Pet Care’s complete statement reads:

“Mars Pet Care is committed producing safe, nutritious and great tasting pet food and treats. Our products meet all quality and food safety standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials as well as the Food and Drug Administration. Because Pedigree Marrobone are manufactured using meat and bone meal, it’s possible for natural fibers such as pig hair to appear in the finished product. While consumers may not have noticed these natural fibers when feeding their dog, we can assure them that the treats are safe for dogs to enjoy.”

The company explained, that “pig fur occasionally gets blended in during the cooking process,” and it is “safe for dogs to eat, is digestible, and meets all U.S. AAFCO standards.”

AAFCO standards?

pedigree marrobone pig hair dog treats

Pissed over pig hairs

Pet parents have voiced their concerns to Pedigree after finding fibers that resembled dental floss, fish bones, fishing line, paint brush bristles, and toothbrush bristles sticking out of the treats. Some pet parents are relieved that the fibers are only pig hairs, while others are busy suppressing the urge to puke and are refusing to feed the filthy treats to their dogs ever again.

Filthy as a pig

The problem with Mars’ explanation is that filth, such as animal hair, is not allowed in pet food – at least not much of it anyway. And certainly not in the amount consumers are finding.

According to the FDA, the definition of contamination is the addition of a foreign material, like “dirt, hair, excreta, non-invasive insects, and machinery mold” to a product. The criteria used to define defect levels are based on the length of the hairs, the distribution of hair in the sample, the species of hair found and the combination of filth types found.

Even though your dog may unavoidably be eating pig hair, it may surprise you to know, that a certain amount of hair is allowed in food for humans – rodent hair, to be precise. The nitty gritty on rodent hair defect action levels can be found in a fascinating page-turner, named the FDA Defect Levels Handbook.

AAFCO on hair

I hate to burst Mars’ publicity bubble, but hair does not meet any quality or food safety standard set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). AAFCO is pretty clear on the exclusion of hair in pet food ingredients:

“Meat Meal is the rendered product from mammal tissues, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices.

“Meat by-products is the non-rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially de-fatted low temperature fatty tissue, and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, horns, teeth and hoofs.

“Meat and Bone Meal is the rendered product from mammal tissues, including bone, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices.

“Animal By-Product Meal is the rendered product from mammal tissues, exclusive of any added hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices.

In a pig’s eye

Is Mars capable of manufacturing a pet food without hair, except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices? Or does it appear that pig hair is in such abundant quantities that they are clearly visibly to the naked eye in the MarroBone dog treats?  Or should Mars be accused of negligence, by not using good processing practices and selling substandard pet food?

 Making a pig’s ear of food safety

Apparently, Mars is not the only Big Pet Food manufacturer having trouble keeping hair out of pet food: In a sick-making market survey, an analysis of “extraneous matter” in pet food performed by Central Hudson Lab, the company found loads of hair in pet food. Four different companies, Hartz, Friskies, Pet Pride, and Alpo, were found to contain hair, with some pet food samples the hairs found numbered in the hundreds, with one sample the number of hairs found was a staggering 1,220+ shredded animal hairs in just 3.5 ounces of dry dog food. They explained:

“The dry dog food contained such a large amount of hair that the company has a process that shreds it to a uniform size.”

When pig’s fly

Most consumers will probably find Mars’ assurance of the safety consuming pig hair hard to swallow and  will probably strike most pet parents as utter hogwash. But, if the thought of chewing on pig hair makes you want to puke, consider the ingredients of Pedigree dog treats, and it may be, that plain ol’ hair just might be safer – and healthier – than some of the other ingredients used in MarroBone’s treats.

MarroBone ingredients:

Wheat flour, meat and bone meal, sugar, natural poultry flavor, animal fat (preserved With BHA/BHT), cooked bone marrow, calcium carbonate, salt, malted barley, sodium metabisulfite (a preservative), vitamin A supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, D-calcium pantothenate, niacin, riboflavin (vitamin B2), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), folic acid.

…Plus, the occasional pig hair.

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Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, the author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and consumer advisor. Help support her work by making a donation today.

Comments (12) Write a comment

  1. Please, who would be stupid enought to point out that pig hair is digestible?

    C’mon, pig hair’s made of keratin and keratin (if you Pedigree people actually did research) can’t be digested by mamals. Dogs are mamals. So please, any kind of hair is not, i repeat NOT DIGETSIBLE.

    A large amount or hair, if consumed, can even cause digestive problems for your buddy (and you!)

    Yes it would be wise not to pick brands like these, but we can’t blame dog owners for not checking. First of all, it isn’t even stated on the ingredients tab. How would they (we) know these “yummy” treats contain hair?? Unless we actually break one apart and check for ourselves…

    Lesson learned though.
    Let’s keep our furry friends safe.


  2. Well, what else should we expect from a company that holds a patent: “METHODS OF USING OFFAL FOR PET FOOD MANUFACTURE” (US 7,575,771 B2: 18 August 2009)? The dictionary definition of “offal” is “refuse,” “rubbish” or “garbage.”


  3. Great article, thanks. The solution is simple and that is to stop buying this product. Looking at the list of ingredients I have to agree that pig hair is probably one of the lesser evils in this canine fast food – all taste, cheap, and contributing to obesity and worse.
    However, cheap comes at a price since the pet’s health will decline and vet bills will rise. And who wants to pay for hair, fat, sugar, flour, meal, salt and preservatives anyway?


  4. Just more proof that a very huge number of Pet Food Companies use filthy disgusting Rendering Plant Gravy in their pet foods which contains road Kill, dead live stock, restaurant grease, dead pets from veterinarian offices filled with all sorts of medications including euthanasia medications, outdated/spoiled meats from grocery stores which are still intact with their plastic wrappers and Styrofoam. Everything gets thrown in the gigantic vat, churned up and then sold to Pet Food Companies for “Gravy” ———disgusting and vile!


  5. Why would anyone feed this junk to their pets in the first place when there are much healthier options. The only thing these companies care about or understand is when consumers withhold their dollars.



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