Who Makes Chicken Soup for the Soul?
Chicken Soup for the Soul started as a book publishing brand in 1993. Around 2004 they began to diversify into pet food. When Bill Rouhana, Amy Newmark and Bob Jacobs bought the brand in 2008, they greatly grew the pet food side of Chicken Soup for the Soul.
The company Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul LLC was established as a separate entity under the Chicken Soup for the Soul Holdings LLC in 2017.
About Chicken Soup for the Soul
Company Know How
Chicken Soup for the Soul is a small company that does not have any animal nutrition experts on staff. They likely rely on the nutrition expertise of their manufacturers, as they do not produce their own pet food. It is unclear to what extent their formulas are researched before hitting the market.
Based on the ingredient list and the limited formulation information available, it appears that the food is formulated with regard to urine pH and other feline health concerns. Despite having almost no in-house nutrition knowledge, Chicken Soup has done a decent job of outsourcing the recipes. However, when approached with specific nutrition questions about their food, Chicken Soup is unable to answer.
Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul is small and remains privately owned. The company’s stated goals are to create a quality pet food that is still affordable and within the reach of pet owners. The company also donates one pound of pet food for every item purchased. The Chicken Soup brand is built on being wholesome and inspirational.
However, Chicken Soup for the Soul has more of a brand licensing business model than a true pet food company model. The 2008 purchase of Chicken Soup for the Soul was largely focused on continuing the rapid growth of the pet food division, rather than an interest in pet food.
Per communications with Chicken Soup, their dry food is made by American Nutrition and their wet food is made by Simmons Pet Foods. All of their foods are made in the United States. Both Simmons and American Nutrition are very large private label pet food manufacturers. They have a mid-tier reputation for safety and quality.
Chicken Soup’s dry food used to be made by Diamond, but it appears that they have decided to change manufacturers after Diamond had a handful of recalls due to salmonella from a single plant in South Carolina.
Chicken Soup for the Soul Cat Food Recalls Since 2008
|Date||Brand||Reason||Who Discovered||Injury or Illness?|
|Apr. 2012||Dry Dog Food made by Diamond in Gaston, SC.||Potential Salmonella||FDA and Diamond||None in pets, but several cases of human illness.|
|May 2012||Dry Foods made by Diamond in Gaston, SC.||Potential Salmonella||FDA and Diamond||None Reported|
Chicken Soup has a relatively good track record for quality and safety. They had limited exposure in the 2007 melamine pet food recalls, with only two flavors of canned food made by American Nutrition being recalled. However, the American Nutrition recall is concerning. Contaminated rice protein concentrate was the cause of the recall, and most of the brands involved were not even aware that American Nutrition was adding rice protein concentrate as an ingredient.
Clean Label Project
Four varieties of wet food and one variety of Chicken Soup for the Soul cat foods were tested by the Clean Label Project. This independent consumer watchdog group tests for heavy metal, pesticides and other contaminants commonly found in pet food.
Three of the four wet foods were rated 5 out of 5 stars. The Salmon Souffle flavor of wet food was rated 1 star, which is typical for fish based cat foods due to how common heavy metals are in seafood. The dry food “Indoor Hairball Care with Chicken, Turkey, Duck, Salmon and Vegetables” was rated 3 stars overall. This was primarily due to process contaminants such as mycotoxins or acrylamide.
Information about Chicken Soup for the Soul is fairly difficult to come by and contacting the company is even more difficult. After seven business days since an email inquiry, we attempted to call and the phone line was disconnected. The only response we could receive from the company was through social media. Eventually this prompted an email response.
In their response, they were very transparent with information on who manufactures their food. However, their answers to questions on nutrition showed a poor understanding of their own foods. They provided numbers for the copper and carbohydrate content of their cat foods, but these numbers were scientifically impossible.
What Foods Does Chicken Soup for the Soul Make?
Chicken Soup has a relatively small line of both dry and wet cat food. They offer just over ten wet food varieties in cans and a handful of dry cat foods. Foods are targeted for age and lifestyle by having indoor and kitten formulas.
Chicken Soup’s Wet Food Offerings
For wet food Chicken Soup has 3 oz and 5.5 oz cans. They do not have pouches or cups available. They offer a pate texture and a minced in gravy texture for their wet cat foods. Chicken Soup for the Soul also offers both grain-free and classic lines of wet cat food.
Some examples of their wet foods are:
- Chicken & Turkey Recipe Adult Pate
- Kitten Chicken & Turkey Recipe Pate
- Indoor Chicken & Salmon Recipe Pate
- Chicken, Sweet Potatoes & Spinach Recipe Minced in Gravy
- Beef, Red Potato & Carrot Recipe Minced in Gravy
Chicken Soup Wet Food Nutrition Review
The ingredients in Chicken Soup’s wet cat foods all follow a similar pattern. The foods are primarily meat and include not only named meats such as “chicken” or “turkey” but also liver and broth too. Their foods also include dried egg product, which is a great way to enhance the texture of the food while still maintaining a high animal protein content.
A downside to their ingredients is that all of the canned foods include some sort of carbohydrate source. Unlike dry food, canned food does not need to contain significant carbohydrate levels. Even in grain free varieties Chicken Soup for the Soul adds ingredients like potato starch, sweet potato, chickpeas, peas etc. In the classic varieties they use whole grain brown rice. All of these carbohydrate ingredients bring little benefit to the food nutritionally and are likely added to lower ingredient costs.
Flaxseed is also included in Chicken Soup’s wet cat foods. This ingredient is a great source of both soluble and insoluble fiber as well as the ALA omega-3 fatty acids.
- Protein, Fat, Carbohydrates
On a dry matter basis the protein content of the wet foods ranges from 45% to 56%. This shows that the carbohydrate ingredients are minor and that there is a good amount of meat content in Chicken Soup’s wet foods. Dry matter fat ranges from roughly 20% to 37%, which is reasonable for a canned cat food.
When contacting Chicken Soup for the Soul for the carbohydrate content of their wet food it was nearly impossible to find a value. Based on the few foods that they would release a carbohydrate value, we expect that carbohydrate content is roughly 10% to 20% on a dry matter basis, but we do not know for certain.
- Phosphorus Levels
The dry matter phosphorus content in Chicken Soup’s foods ranges from roughly 1.5% to 2.5%. Over 2% is relatively high and not recommended for senior cats, due to the very high frequency of kidney disease in older cats. If you have a cat over seven years old we recommend checking the phosphorus level of the flavors of Chicken Soup’s wet foods you are interested in before feeding.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Cats need animal sources of omega-3s, because unlike humans they cannot synthesise the EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids from the plant based ALA omega-3 fatty acids. Most of the wet foods made by Chicken Soup include fish as an ingredient or include fish oil, but not all. Be sure to check your specific Chicken Soup for the Soul cat food for fish oil or fatty fish such as salmon.
Chicken Soup’s Dry Food Offerings
Chicken Soup for the Soul has both chicken and salmon cat foods. Like the wet food they are available in both classic and grain free.
Some examples of their dry foods are
- Classic Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe
- Classic Weight & Mature Care Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe
- Grain Free Chicken & Legumes Recipe
- Classic Adult Salmon & Brown Rice
Chicken Soup Dry Food Nutrition Review
Chicken meal is listed as one of the first ingredients in the dry foods. This is good, because “meal” means that the ingredient is being measured after the moisture content has been removed and there truly is a high chicken content in the food. In the grain-inclusive varieties of Chicken Soup, chicken meal and turkey meal is listed before brown rice, indicating a relatively high meat content in the food. In the grain-free variety, chicken meal is listed above carbohydrate sources such as peas and faba beans.
However, there are many carbohydrate sources in the dry foods. It may be the case that if a single carbohydrate source was used, it would be listed ahead of chicken meal. The carbohydrate sources in a single food (Classic Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe) include brown rice, peas, faba beans, and barley.
The dry foods also include a plant protein source such as potato protein or pea protein. Plant proteins have a different amino acid composition than meats and are less likely to be utilized by cats. Plant proteins are a cost-effective way to increase the protein content of the food, but are of inferior nutritional value.
The classic foods also list a multitude of fruits and vegetables, including carrots, apples, tomatoes, blueberries, and spinach. These ingredients do have some limited nutritional benefits such as antioxidants and soluble fiber, but they are more likely added to the food in order to make the ingredient list and product packaging look more appealing to humans.
Sodium bisulfate is added to many of the foods in order to help maintain a proper urine pH. This is critically important to cats’ urinary health and it is good to see that Chicken Soup has formulated this food with urinary issues in mind.
Chicken Soup for the Soul’s dry foods include probiotics, which can be a positive addition to the food. They also use chelated minerals, which means that the minerals are attached to proteins and more easily absorbed by your cat’s body.
- Calories, Protein, Carbohydrates and Fat
Roughly speaking on a dry matter basis, Chicken Soup for the Soul dry cat food has 38% protein, 18% fat and 30% carbohydrates. This is a good, but not outstanding, analysis for a dry cat food. It indicates that there is a decent amount of meat content in their foods.
Calorie content for their foods runs in the 360 to 400 calories per a cup range. This is a reasonable caloric content for a dry cat food, especially one with a high meat content. This may be too many calories for already overweight cats, but otherwise the calorie content is good.
The mature/weight loss food is a bit of an exception to the other Chicken Soup dry cat foods. It has a lower fat content of 9%, but a higher carb content of 42% on a dry matter basis. This is what reduces the calories to 325 per a cup (from 397 calories per a cup in the very similar adult formula), which is still relatively high for a “weight loss” food. It also is a poor weight loss choice, because overweight cats are prone to diabetes and should limit carbohydrate intake, not increase it.
Chicken Soup’s kibbles have a dry matter phosphorus content of roughly 1.2%. This is a decently healthy value for phosphorus. It appears that Chicken Soup has closely considered phosphorus when formulating their dry cat foods.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Chicken Soup for the Soul provides the omega-3 and omega-6 content right on their guaranteed analysis. Their chicken based foods have an omega-3 to omega-6 ratio of around 1:5 and the fish based foods have a ration closer to 1:1. These are wonderful omega-3 levels. In the chicken based foods the omega-3s primarily come from flaxseed, which means that they are the less “valuable” ALA omega-3 fatty acids. However, salmon or salmon oil appears to be included in all of the dry foods and should help to provide the EPA and DHA omega-3s that cats also need.
Interestingly, the mature/weight loss food is an exception here too. The ratio is 1:12, which is lower than the minimum recommended 1:6. This food still includes salmon, but lacks the ingredient flaxseed.