A Meals on Wheels charity in Osnabruck, Germany, is apologizing today after it served dog food to three senior citizens instead of the human food they were supposed to receive.
The charity, Osnabrucker Tafel said the three seniors were mistakenly given Santaniello dog food, and at least one of them ate it. Another one of the seniors told the charity that he had started heating up the food in a pan, but at the last minute decided not to eat it because of the foul odor it was emitting.
The high-end labeling of the dog food, which was packaged in glass jars by Santaniello, was why the charity mistakenly thought it was human food. The packaging described it as “venison and potatoes with garden vegetables.”
According to the Local, the packaging did identify itself as dog food–instead reading “gourmet food for animals” on the lids. Unfortunately, the lettering was very small and might have been difficult for senior citizens to read.
The head of Osnabrucker Tafel, Dieter Mollmann, conducted an interview with the Neue Osnabrucker Zeitung newspaper, where he apologized profusely for the error.
“Our warehouse manager sorts through many tons of groceries every day, and it is possible that due to the design of the packaging, he did not notice,” Mollmann said. “We are extremely sorry about the mix-up. Due to this incident, we will advise all stations within our operations to in the future go over and check groceries more carefully.”
Santaniello, the company that manufactured the food, writes on their website that the company’s products contain meat “exclusively from the human sector — in different shapes and compositions, but always at the same high level of quality.”
The writing on the glass jar was labeled “from the land” and “meat dish in a glass,” none of which would necessarily imply food for animals and sounds very similar to advertising language used to describe human food.
There were also instructions on the back describing how much food to serve based on the size of the dog.
“Only upon the resulting smell did the person become suspicious and went for a magnifying glass,” a source told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.
The website for the charity, Osnabrücker Tafel, says that it collects around five tons of food surplus every day from from sponsors, sorts the products at their headquarters and then distributes them to different families and individuals in need.
The newspaper Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung talked to the manufacturer, who said that the packaging clearly states that it is dog food both on the front and the back. They also said it was harmless to humans, which is important, because Mollmann could not confirm that no other people received the food.
However, though these people received dog food unknowingly, there have been incidents of people choosing to eat food for canines, either for nutritional reasons or just as an experiment. Dorothy Hunter, owner of Paws Natural Pet Emporium in Richland, Wash., vowed in 2014 to eat nothing but pet food for 30-straight days in order to raise awareness about different diets.
“There’s been a lot about the bad foods for humans,” she said on YouTube. “We sell holistic, natural foods — good ingredients, USA products — at Paws Natural Pet Emporium. I believe in our products and how good they are; I actually believe our pets are eating better than us. With that said, for the next month, until July 19 … I’m going to eat dog food for a month.”
Hunter told KNDO that she got the idea when she was restocking store shelves. “I didn’t have time to get a snack, so I grabbed a bag of treats off the counter, and I was like, ‘Wow, you know, these read better than normal people treats.’ So, I started eating the treats and I was like, ‘You know, I can do this for 30 days.’”
The Food and Drug Administration told TODAY that they do not recommend that people eat pet food because it is not intended for humans and is designed to meet different dietary needs. However, both types of food are required to be compliant with food additive regulations and free of pathogens, so it probably won’t hurt you. Still, we don’t see this as a trend bound to catch on anytime soon.