Friday, 29 May 2009

Dog food versus Pâté!

Has it ever struck you as odd, that we dogs just love to eat human food, but our humans don’t in general seem to fancy the stuff they give us?

Well I am pleased to report that this puzzling phenomenon has finally been taken seriously by some (human) scientists, who published their findings last week.

This study* investigated whether humans could spot ‘real’ dog food in amongst samples of spam, liverwurst, pâté, and duck liver mousse. An excellent use of precious research funding, would you not say?

Well, I read the paper, with a bit of help from Gail – I mean how many dogs know what Measuring the hedonic tone free of bias requires a double-blind trial” or “A Chi-Squared test did not support the hypothesis that the distribution of guesses was significantly different from random (X2=0.433, P=0.9797)”  is supposed to mean?

The long and the short of it is, the human tasters could not distinguish reliably between the so-called human foods and the dog food. Nearly half the tasters thought the liverwurst was for dogs, a finding which the Liverwurst Marketing Association may want to suppress…..However, and rather confusingly, the humans did rate the actual dog food as tasting worse than the other meats on offer.

Would dogs have done any better, I hear you ask?  Well I suspect that there would be no shortage of canine volunteers for this particular scientific trial!

Two crumbs of comfort may be drawn from the experiment.

First, it seems we dogs will not anytime soon have to start guarding our dinner plates from the attentions of our ‘owners’.

Second, I note that the trial was conducted between 7 and 10 pm on New Year’s Eve, so valuable working hours were not lost. Nowhere in the paper does it state the number of units of alcohol already consumed by the humans when conducting the experiment. I would have thought this point highly relevant and am surprised that the omission of these data was not noted during the peer review process.

*John Bohannon, Robin Goldstein and Alexis Herschkowitsch, Can People Distinguish Pâté from Dog Food?, American Association of Wine Economists, AAWE Working Paper No. 36, April 2009.


Maxmom said...

Hi Hamish
Its quite amazing how different our worlds are... Here in SA, much of the commercial dog food on 'supermarket' shelves is indeed consumed by humans. Poverty is rife and starving humans will eat anything irrespective of taste...
Us dogs, however, in this household, are fortunate and treated better than the average human being in Africa. Take care and good luck with taste testing.
Luv Max & Co

Rocky Creek Scotties and Rocky Creek Ramblings said...

Our huMom thinks she would prefer kibble over canned.

Lilly, Piper, Carrleigh and Java

Martha said...

Hi Hamish
As ever a very thought provoking post!
Thank you for taking the time to post this interesting piece of canine research.
Perhaps you should conduct a trial of your own.
Try giving Gail some of your food and you try eating some of hers.
It may be that humans only dont like dog food because they have never tried it.
If it were delivered in fast food packaging it would look far more appealing.
We were interested to read the CAM comment!
We have never heard of humans in the uk eating dog food but who knows!
Enjoy your weekend - weather looking promising.
Martha & Bailey xx

Rachel said...

My pack gets such awesome dog food that I would eat it too if times were tough.! Love your blog... you so doggone cute Hamish!

Rufus and Indie said...

Hi Hamish! That's really interesting! Rufus and Indie eat dog food, it's a little bit expensive but I know they have the best!

the magic sleigh said...

I volunteer to be a taste tester! I think human food is way better than that kibble they keep trying to get me to, yum!
-Kira The BeaWootiful

Arran, Arthur and Mum said...

Peoples does not have as sensitive noses as us anyway, so I bet that why they can't tell.

I will be a taste tester! I never get good human foods like all those things listed cos of my Mum not eating meat and all.

Martha said...

Hi Hamish
Thank you so much for your nice comment on our 100th post. We also valued your structural report on the bridge!
We have just been over at Dozer's blog and he has lots of cakes for dogs - check out the Westie - it is gorgeous!
Martha & Bailey xx

Dughallmor Beagles said...

Wow....thank you for sharing these findings with us Hamish....and make sure when you sign up for the next part of the survey you don't forget your neighbours the Beagles!

We don't get dog food, we'd probably love it but we are fed chicken carcasses, minced lamb and pureed veg!
We got posh dog biscuits sent to us in a Paw it Forward and Liam loved them....we had to hide them!
Slobbers xx

TwoSpecialWires said...

If you hear of a similar study with dog-tasters and there is a need for volunteers, we would like to make our services available. Especially if we can forego the quarantine. We would do just about anything to come visit. Please keep us in mind.

Jake and Fergi