to test—multiple times—for the presence of
salmonella and other bacteria. Raw materials
are tested even before they’re brought into the
processing plant, batch testing is done during
processing and test-and-hold programs are in
place to verify the safety of every shipment
before it leaves the facility.
“Kirkland Signature samples are tested
hourly for aflatoxin, despite the fact that there is
no corn contained in their formulations. This is
a step beyond normal industry practice,” notes
Mark Brinkmann, vice president of operations
at Diamond Pet Foods, which has been producing Kirkland Signature’s dry dog and cat food
since 1995. “In addition, every batch of Kirkland
Signature is tested for the presence of salmonella, listeria and E. coli prior to its release.”
The humanization of pets
In recent years, pet owners have begun to
pay more attention to the quality of their pet
food. “A new interest in healthy eating, a
change in demographics and the humanization of pets prompted pet owners to look for
healthier choices in pet food,” says Teresa.
As dogs and cats moved into cities and
towns, lived longer and bonded with their
owners, a new relationship was born. Pets were
now members of the family. This change was
accompanied by more pet products, including
new lines of healthier pet foods.
Contributing to the increased awareness of
pet nutrition was the growing enthusiasm for
human health food in the late 1980s, which
launched an interest in food and nutrition.
Americans became health conscious. They
read labels. And they wanted the best for every
member of their family, including their pets.
Changing demographics solidified the
movement to premium pet foods. The number
of U.S. households without children has
increased as young couples wait to have children and baby boomers become empty nesters. Pets filled the void, and their owners
were—and still are—every bit as focused on
them as they would be on their own children.
nature pet food contains, and how it supports
pets’ health.) “Costco’s quality standards for
Kirkland Signature foods are the highest of
any retailer,” adds Brinkmann. “Rather than
make cost their priority when developing
house-brand offerings, Costco prioritizes
food safety and nutrition.”
For example, both prebiotic and probiotic
raw ingredients are in Kirkland Signature dry
pet food. Prebiotics naturally help a dog’s
digestion by stimulating the growth of good
bacteria in the digestive tract. The prebiotics in
Kirkland Signature are found naturally in beet
pulp and dried chicory root.
And Costco goes another step further,
assuring not only that Kirkland Signature pet
foods are healthy, but that they get eaten.
“Costco conducts quarterly testing, including
palatability studies,” notes Jack Moss, director
of operations for Simmons Pet Food, which
has been producing Kirkland Signature Super
Premium canned dog food for the last two
years. “They are not only verifying the nutri-
ents in the food, but they are also considering
the pets’ desire to eat the food.”
Costco insists that even its dog biscuits,
produced by American Nutrition since 1999,
be of the highest quality. “Kirkland Signature
biscuits are formulated to meet the require-
ments for a regular, daily dog food ration,” says
Darren Stephens, vice president of operations
at American Nutrition.
The future of pet food
Costco has no plan to rest on its laurels.
The strong vision for the future of its pet food
program includes a continued emphasis on
nutrition and food safety and a new emphasis
“We strive to bring pet food manufacturing production in line with human food-grade
manufacturing processes and streamline the
supply chain,” says Teresa. “We are constantly
evaluating how we are doing and what we can
do better for the health of all pets.” C
Tracy Schneider lives with her husband and
daughter in Washington state.
Kirkland Signature pet food
For their four-legged “children,” pet parents want only the best, and Costco has developed healthy, proprietary formulas. Costco’s
Kirkland Signature pet foods are made with
chicken, beef, lamb, salmon and turkey. They
are the first ingredients on the label, the
highest-percentage ingredient by weight.
You’ll find no wheat gluten, soy, artificial
colors, flavors or preservatives. (See “Healthy
ingredients” for a list of what Kirkland Sig-
• Chicken, beef, lamb, salmon and
turkey provide protein, the building
blocks of muscle.
• Carbohydrates such as brown rice,
pearled barley, oatmeal, sweet potatoes,
potatoes and peas provide energy.
• Chicken fat and canola oil provide
omega- 6 and omega- 3 fatty acids.
Flaxseed and salmon oil are additional
sources of omega- 3 fatty acids. They all
help to maintain a healthy skin and coat.
• Beet pulp and dried chicory root,
sources of prebiotics, provide soluble
fiber that aids digestion and nutrient
Tablet or smartphone? Scan or click here for a video about Kirkland Signature Dental Chews for dogs. (See page 5 for scanning details.)
• Vitamin E, selenium and zinc provide
nutritional balance and antioxidant support
for cell tissue.
• Probiotics, including dried Lactobacillus
acidophilus, assist with digestion and
boost the immune system.
• Taurine is supplemented for eye health.
• L-carnitine helps reduce the storage of
• Yucca schidigera extract works as a
digestive aid. It also has been known to
reduce fecal odor.
• Glucosamine and chondroitin help to
maintain bone and joint health.
• Calcium carbonate is essential for maintaining healthy bones and teeth.
• Potassium chloride is important for the
function of the heart, nerves and muscles.