The population of sharks has decreased by 70% in the last 50 years and regardless of how much public awareness ocean conservationists have been working on, a recent study found traces of endangered sharks in pet food being sold in Singapore. And if you think this only happens in Asia, think again, because a study conducted in 2019 found sharks in pet food being sold in the United States.
But what pet food has sharks in it? Well, from 83 products tested (including wet food, dry food, and treats), 55 of them contained sharks, including at least two sharks species: the endangered 'shortfin mako' and 'blacktip shark'.
And as you can image, sharks did not appear on the product label and therefore, it may be more common than we think that our pet's products are made from this majestic animal, one that is essential to the health of our oceans.
sharks in pet supplements
Unfortunately, that's not all. If your best friend is big, furry and has four legs, then you've probably looked for some hip and joint supplements for dogs. And among most dog joint supplements, you'll find three common ingredients: Glucosamine, Chondroitin, and MSM.
Chondroitin is a substance that occurs naturally in the connective tissues of people and animals, and has been used for many years as a supplement for bone and joint ailments and diseases. To add it to our human and dog supplements, it's obtained from animal sources, mostly shark cartilage, as it's considered an 'easily accesible source'.
CHONDROITIN IS OBTAINED FROM ANIMAL SOURCES, MOSTLY SHARK CARTILAGE, AS IT'S CONSIDERED AN 'EASILY ACCESIBLE SOURCE'.
who verifies the product ingredients
Although our team was surprised to learn about sharks in pet food, it made sense that food mislabeling was this common. FDA states that it's the manufacturer's responsibility to ensure the accuracy of its supplement facts and ingredient list, but who verifies this information? You guessed it, NOBODY.
It's been 5 years since Mokai has been in business and our team has never had to provide the FDA (or any other government entity) with proof of the ingredients shown on our product label.
Disappointed about the standards set in the pet industry and the lack of regulations from government entities (allowing endangered species to be present in pet food, beauty products, and supplements), Mokai decided to do things differently. After months of research, Mokai chose to make its products vegan, sourcing its Chondroitin from a blend of seaweed extracts, an alternative that is just as effective as animal sourced chondroitin but without the massive impact on sharks and the ocean.
But if nobody checks, how do you know we're not just another company mislabeling their products?
So why are other companies not following this? It may be for a variety of reasons, but let's start with money since that's always a main driver for most companies. Just like with packaging, plastic-free alternatives are a lot more expensive, and plastic ends up being the cheapest option available but at the expense of our planet. Well, plant-based chondroitin is A LOT more expensive than animal sourced Chondroitin, but it protects our oceans and our marine species. To our team, it's worth paying more for this ingredient as we believe that 'convenience at the expense of our planet, is not convenience at all'.
Another reason may just be that brands have no idea where their ingredients come from. Most brands actually have their manufacturing facilities formulate their products, this includes finding the ingredients (without knowing more information about the source). And usually, the manufacturing facility partners with a few vendors that source multiple ingredients from different suppliers, making it easy for both the brand and the manufacturing facility. Unfortunately, unless the vendor has high ethical standards, the vendor may choose to find the cheapest source and supplier, which tends to be the most unsustainable sources.
Regardless of the reason, at Mokai we choose to do things differently and be part of the entire supply chain process because for us, it's not just essential to use non-GMO ingredients, but also ensure that our products are completely sustainable and free of sharks.