As someone who regularly feeds his dog food that costs more than two-bucks a can, while regularly noticing that store-brand chili at my local grocery store is often on sale for less than a dollar, I was not entirely surprised when I heard of this interesting study that found most people can’t tell the difference between gourmet pâté from dog food. I suspect, however, this tells us more about the palate of the tasters than it does pâté—but maybe there I’m wrong.

     Here’s the entertaining and enlightening opening paragraph of the study:

What qualifies as food fit for human consumption is culturally defined. In some cultures, grasshopper, snake, dog, and horse are on the menu. Elsewhere, these healthy protein sources provoke disgust. There has also been a substantial flexibility of diet within cultures over time. Lobster, once considered fit only for fertilizer and slave food in 18th Century North America, is consumed there today as an expensive delicacy. Such cultural evolution is ongoing, with comestible goods constantly moving into or out of fashion. We investigated the potential of canned dog food for human consumption by assessing its palatibility alone.

If you would like to read the study (working paper, actually) you can find it here:

As for the food safety angle of this, remember that in 2007 when Castleberry-brand canned chili was recalled because of botulism, also part of the recall was Natural Balance dog food, including “Irish Stew with Beef,” “Southern-style dumplings with gravy,” and “Chinese Take-out with sauce with vegetables.” And yes, the “dog” food was made in the same factory as the “human” food.

Bon appétit!