best and worst dog foods, clean label projectI’m kicking myself for not taking screenshots but I’m glad I took really good notes. Recently, the Clean Label Project released their results on a dog food study. I was shocked because their ratings conflicted with some of the best and worst dog foods ratings from reputable resources – like  Whole Dog Journal and Dog Food Advisor. As I was putting together this post, I noticed that the Clean Label Project all of a sudden, changed their results of their ten top and bottom pet foods. They even changed some information about their statements on dog food nutrition.

Why would they make these changes and not provide an explanation?

Beneful ‘Was’ Listed In Top Ten Dog Foods By Clean Label Project

The first thing that caught my attention about the Clean Label Project dog food study results was that they originally had Beneful listed in their Top Ten Best Dog Foods – it’s now been deleted from their top ten list.  Kibbles ‘N Bits also receives a 5 Star rating from Clean Label Project. So why would this stand out to me? Because as a Whole Dog Journal subscriber, I periodically receive their e-newsletter about how “awful” these foods are for your dog.

The recent email subject header from Whole Dog Journal is titled, ‘Stop Now if you’re feeding your dog any of THESE foods’.

Here’s an actual screenshot of part of that newsletter and Whole Dog Journal’s views about Beneful and Kibbles ‘n Bits.

best and worst dog foods, clean label project, worst dog foods

Dog Food Advisor shares Whole Dog Journal’s views on those brands as well. Beneful receives 2 stars (their second-lowest tier rating) while Kibbles n’ Bits receives a 1 star (the lowest tier rating) from Dog Food Advisor.

Although Beneful has been removed from the Top Ten list, Clean Label Project still gives both Beneful and Kibble’s ‘n Bits 5 stars. So let’s review Clean Label Project’s definition of their 5 Star rating.  This leads me to the next change that I noticed.

Clean Label Project Changes 5 Star Definition About Nutrition

Again, as I mentioned, I was in the middle of writing an article about the Clean Label Project dog food study when I noticed that they changed their explanation of their 5 Star rating. In my draft article, I had written their explanation – in their own words, here is how they had originally defined a dog food that they gave 5 Stars – these dog foods “contain the least amount of harmful environmental and industrial contaminants and toxins and/or have the highest nutritional superiority”.

Highest nutritional superiority for Kibbles ‘N Bits and Beneful?!? That totally conflicts with ratings and statements from Whole Dog Journal and Dog Food Advisor. When I first read that, all I could think about was how confused people were going to be if – like me – they subscribed to Whole Dog Journal and Dog Food Advisor.

But just a couple of weeks later the Clean Label Project changed their 5 Star definition. It’s now defined as, “on average, contain the least amount of harmful environmental and industrial contaminants and toxins”.

Why Did Clean Label Change Their Top Ten Best and Worst Dog Food List?

Beneful was not the only brand that changed in their top ten list. In fact, I also noticed that the bottom ten dog foods list had changed quite a bit as well. I can’t speak as to why the Clean Label Project changed some of their information.  When I first called them and asked about their nutritional statements they said they would have someone call me back.  Unfortunately, I have not heard back.

However, they do have an intriguing, first of a kind study that focuses on environmental toxins found within dog food brands and their recipes. I would encourage all pet lovers to review their study and form your own opinions.


WagBrag’s co-founder, Russ Boles, has a deep history in animal rescue and welfare. For the past 12 years, Russ has served in various roles with Atlanta-based animal advocacy organizations focused on rescue, training and education. In addition, Russ led a local rescue volunteer team into New Orleans immediately after Hurricane Katrina, assisting in efforts to rescue and care for stranded animals. This experience changed his life, and animal rescue and advocacy will always be a part of everything he does.