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The Honest Kitchen was founded in 2002 when Lucy Postins started making dog food out of her kitchen. Based in San Diego, the brand distinguishes itself by offering human grade food. Human grade has no legal definition, but AAFCO states it should mean that every ingredient in the product is human edible. This means the food mush be manufactured, packed and held in accordance with federal regulations for human foods as well as Current Good Manufacturing Practice. If these conditions are met, the food can be called human grade.
The Honest Kitchen also claims their ingredients are non GMO, although high pesticide ingredients that are on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list make a frequent appearance in the top 5 ingredients.
The Honest Kitchen brand offers mainly dehydrated foods and mixes, but rounds it out with wet cooked foods. On average, The Honest Kitchen dehydrated foods score as moderate risk while the cooked foods are low risk.
The average score of each Honest Kitchen line is listed below. Click on any line to view the individual foods and scores.
The Honest Kitchen’s Whole Food Clusters line is considered a moderate risk food. This is a cold pressed offering and The Honest Kitchen’s lowest scoring line for ingredient quality and safety. It averages just about 26% protein and 35% carbohydrate, as calculated. The ingredient safety score of these foods is fairly low for ingredient safety since they feature multiple known high pesticide ingredients in the top five ingredients, increasing the risk of pesticide/Roundup exposure. Scores are also reduced due to natural flavors, multiple added vitamins and minerals, as well as added amino acids. It’s preferable that nutrients come from whole food sources since vitamin and mineral premixes can commonly cause excesses in vitamin D or copper.
The Honest Kitchen’s Dehydrated Whole Grain line is considered a moderate risk food. It averages about 25% protein and 43% carbohydrate as calculated, which is quite high. This line features a mix of organic and non organic ingredients, however high pesticide crop ingredients feature in the top 5 ingredients of most of these foods, which are high pesticide use crops. The exception is the Fish & Oat recipe, which uses organic barley and oats. oats, millet in sorghum in place of legumes for their carbohydrate source and they are found in abundance in the top 5 ingredients.
The Honest Kitchen’s Dehydrated Grain Free line is considered a moderate risk food. The line averages about 29% protein and 35% carbohydrate, making it one of Honest Kitchen’s highest protein dehydrated foods. This is likely made possible since legumes are rich in protein. The food safety scores are somewhat low with a frequent appearance of multiple high pesticide ingredients in the top 5 ingredients including potatoes and spinach.
The Honest Kitchen’s Dehydrated Limited Ingredient line is considered a moderate risk food. It averages about 27% protein and 38% carbohydrate. There is a little bit more variability in the ingredient safety scores in this line since not all Limited Ingredient foods contain high pesticide foods in the top 5 ingredients. Despite this, there is a small amount of organic ingredients on the label. Like most Honest Kitchen foods, the ingredient quality score is lower due to a large number of added vitamins and minerals and a large amount of carbohydrates for a food of this type.
The Honest Kitchen’s Gourmet Grains line is considered a moderate risk food. It averages about 29% protein and 34% carbohydrate, making it one of the highest protein foods in their lineup. This line uses mainly organic grains in its top 5 ingredients, which makes it Honest Kitchen’s highest scoring dehydrated food. However, it contains a large number of added vitamins and minerals, like most of their foods, in addition to an unspecified source of fish oil, with a resulting decrease in ingredient quality score.
The Honest Kitchen’s Butcher Block Pate is considered a low risk food and is their highest scoring line. This is a cooked, wet line that appears to be minimally processed. The foods average 54% protein and 8% carbohydrate (as calculated, on a dry matter basis), although there is some variability from food to food. With the exception of the Turkey & Autumn Veggies food, there are no high pesticide ingredients in the top 5 ingredients.
The Honest Kitchen’s One Pot Stew line is considered low risk. It averages about 47% protein and 17% carbohydrate (as calculated, on a dry matter basis). This cooked wet food is Honest Kitchen’s second highest scoring line, although some of the foods contain high pesticide foods in the top 5 ingredients. Due to the inconsistency in carbohydrate content as well, the individual food scores do vary a fair bit in this line.
The Honest Kitchen is made with non GMO ingredients. Most of the foods are minimally processed (dehydrated or cooked), which is a healthier way of making dog food. The manufacturer claims the ingredient are human grade, not pet grade.
Apart from being less processed and human grade, the ingredients are fairly similar to what you’d see in a higher end kibble. The Honest Kitchen uses vitamin and mineral premix and there’s more vitamins and minerals added than many kibbles. The dehydrated foods are also just as high, if not higher, in carbohydrate content, which is a bit disappointing.
When it comes to ingredient safety, most of the dehydrated foods contain high pesticide foods in the top 5 ingredients.These include oats, potatoes and chickpeas. Some of the foods also contain natural flavor, which is a low quality ingredient with limited safety studies, and added amino acids, which often indicates poor quality proteins. Overall, the dehydrated foods are considered moderate risk.
The wet foods (Butcher Block Pate and One Pot Stews) fare better and are considered low risk foods. These foods rank higher because they’re higher in protein and much lower in carbohydrate.
It’s worth nothing that The Honest Kitchen does not provide the omega-6:omega-3 ratio in their foods. They are certainly not the only brand omitting this information, but it’s our hope that more brands will pay more attention to these fats since omega-6 fats are inflammatory and AAFCO allows a very high ratio of 30:1.
The Honest Kitchen voluntarily recalled several lots of food in 2013 due to Salmonella contamination.