How do they taste test dog food?

While watching a commercial which extolled the bacony taste of some dog food or other, I started wondering how they know what it tastes like exactly. When pet foods are developed, does some human taster actually have to sample them and grade them, or do they just give it to dogs and try to gauge their reaction. How much does it pay to be a dog food taster? (If there is such a thing)

Thanks in advance for any responses.

I remember a few years ago Dave Letterman had a ‘professional’ taster on as a guest. And they of course tasted various moist dog foods. He worked for Alpo as a dog food tester, and I also remember him saying he taste tested Canola Oil too. So the answer is yes, but I do not know if every company does it or how much they are paid.

Hi Diogenes,

Strange you of all people would ask about dog food. <stoic grin> I have personally tried more than my fair share of dog food and can say it is really quite bland, generally. You see, my dog has a little – hmm-mm – odor problem and we’ve tried quite a few different sample bags and cans.

On a clinical level, according to my friend who works for Purina in Denver, most companies employ testers in their R&D Department. They’re humans who apparently have well-calibrated tastebuds, attuned especially to salt, fat and occult flavors. (I also have a bud who works for the PR Agency for Dr. Scholl, and THOSE products’ consumer testing is no picnic.)

Re Casha-Casha, it’s not readily available, but several of these people at Purina are trained chemists or clinicians. Probably some good scratch.

I’d like to hear from someone who actually does it.

How do we know that dogs taste things the way humans do? Isn’t it possible that they are unable to taste certain flavors that we can, or that they can taste some flavors that we’re unaware of?

By way of analogy, it is common knowledge that dogs can hear high frequency sounds that humans are deaf to, and some animals can see infrared or ultraviolet, so I really don’t think my question is far-fetched at all.

Thats possible, as I’m not sure if anyone had done a deep study of canine taste buds. However, we aren’t too far apart, biologically, and from an observation of what dogs DO eat we can take a good guess of what flavors they like.

Thanks for the answers, I’m kind of surprised that they use real human tasters, but OTOH, what choice do they have? I feel sorry for the poor slobs that have to go home every night with dog food breath, though. :stuck_out_tongue:

Of course they use human tasters! First off, humans buy all the dog food, and they wouldn’t repeat-buy something that smells icky. If they used dogs for the taste test, they’d eat nearly anything, and they would keep their opinions to themselves.

Seems to me they could run comparative taste tests with dogs, put them in front of multiple dishes, see which ones they prefer. It’d have to be a bit more rigorous than that, but seems OK in principle.

Muttrox, that’s a way to tell what they like and don’t like. But it would not tell whether or not the supposedly XYZ Flavor dog food really tastes like XYZ to a dog, which is what the OP was about.

Ah, my bad. In that case my answer is that it’s obviously impossible to know.

Ludwig Wittgenstein paraphrased:
Depending on one’s environment, one’s physical needs and desires, one’s emotions, one’s sensory capacities, and so on, different concepts will be more natural or useful to one. This is why “forms of life” are so important to Wittgenstein. What matters to you depends on how you live (and vice versa), and this shapes your experience. So if a lion could speak, Wittgenstein says, we would not be able to understand it. We might realize that “roar” meant zebra, or that “roar, roar” meant lame zebra, but we would not understand lion ethics, politics, aesthetic taste, religion, humor and such like, if lions have these things. We could not honestly say “I know what you mean” to a lion. Understanding another involves empathy, which requires the kind of similarity that we just do not have with lions, and that many people do not have with other human beings.

There are many certified veterinary laboratories providing professional dog food testing services at reasonable rates.

As the OP asked this question 12 years ago and has since been banned, I’m not sure you’ve managed to save the day here.