Pet Food Ingredients: Nutritionist Talks Nutrition

by Mary Haight on September 4, 2011

pet food ingredientsPet food ingredients have long been a topic of passionate debate among a small section of the pet loving public.  Things changed after the 2007 melamine recall when thousands of pets died; finally a  majority looked to pet food companies asking: What is in my dog’s food, why, where does it come from, and is no one minding the store? There have been many posts and conversations here about pet food ingredients .  People have schooled themselves in the difference between crude protein percentages and usable proteins, and in recognizing a good grain like barley from a poor choice like brewers rice thanks to websites like Dog Food Advisor.  The thing I could not figure out was why pet food companies would not engage in open exchange beyond talking points. Well, not that I’m naive, but certainly there is room for communications improvement. Transparency is probably not a possibility, but in light of new offerings on the market, is the tide turning toward giving customers the pet food ingredients they want?

Pet Food Ingredients – Your Choice?

The US pet food industry has been branching out, looking at science studies to keep up with new news on breed specific diets and possibilities there,  and grain free diets are fairly recent.  Now Iams has introduced a new line of dog food without wheat, soy, corn, or meat by-products. This last ingredient is possibly the biggest point of contention given the policy of allowing the 4D’s (dead, diseased, downed, and dying and all the drugs in their systems) in pet and animal feeds.

Dr. Lorie Huston interviewed Iams/P&G Scientific Relations Manager Marcie Campion on pet food ingredients and quality control. Lorie Huston asked expressly about diseased and injection site parts use in pet food, and Campion dismissed this as “internet rumor”, which seems to be the fallback party line.  Some company is buying those barrels of “rejected for human consumption” parts, even if it isn’t Iams.  The 4D’s are a real part of this industry, not a rumor.

Campion related Iams has trace-back capabilities on each ingredient so they can find the source of any contamination quickly, and a 200 point pre-and-post production check list.  She also noted the trend in personal food philosophies, and the resulting growing interest the source of our food and our pets’ food.  That seems like a different kind of public statement for a major pet food company to make – at least lately.  Check out the podcast at Animal Cafe!

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9 comments
dog pet supplies
dog pet supplies

Thanks for sharing these tips these are quite helpful in selecting dog food of my dog's choice. I Come to know about his favorite ingredients which are healthy for him too......

rumpydog
rumpydog

If you want to learn about dog food products, try finding out what's causing your dog's allergy problems. Since we learned that DeDe's skin problems were related to food allergies (self-diagnosed), we discovered that lots of other dogs are having skin problems. I can't begin to tell you how many dog owners have asked us what Jen did to get DeDe's allergies under control, and then when we tell them, they poo-poo us off.

David Stauble
David Stauble

Finally, I think hope lies in new manufacturers who’ve heard consumers and are introducing foods with better ingredients, less processing and fewer additives. Some of these raw, dehydrated and baked whole foods (like Carna4) are being made from ingredients that really are taken from the human-food supply chain and minimally processed. Some even require few or no supplements/pre-mixes. With this I think will come more transparency - at least from manufacturers with nothing to hide. If consumers show that they are willing to pay the cost of real food for pets, I believe we will see more brands coming clean. David Stauble President Carna4 Inc.

David Stauble
David Stauble

As a follow-up to my last comment: The dilemma for pet food producers is that consumers say they want natural, human-grade pet foods, but manufacturers think they will pay no more than $2 a pound. So large manufacturers continue to make over-processed foods, often with by-products, and market them with friendly "natural" and "human-grade" labels. That explains why there’s little transparency in the industry. David Stauble President Carna4 Inc.

David Stauble
David Stauble

Thanks Mary for this post and for raising these questions. After working for 20+ years in the pet industry, I agree that almost all today’s mass-produced, commercial pet food is made from ingredients that are no longer fit for human consumption. Ingredients are also over-cooked to kill all pathogens and make them safe for animal consumption (but in the process, most of the nutrition is also destroyed). The product is then fortified with some 25-30 synthetic supplements or vitamin/mineral pre-mixes to meet nutrition adequacy and flavored with animal by-products to make it edible. It’s then labelled as “natural” pet food made with “human-grade” meat but sold for about $1 to $2 per pound. Yet no one questions the cost even though we pay much more that this for our meat and produce. David Stauble President Carna4 Inc.

Jana Rade
Jana Rade

I think it's a good interview. I still have my doubts about some information provided there. Dog food ingredients is such a controversial topic! (what isn't, I guess). There are still many experts arguing against grains in dog food, for example. One thing I find kind of important, the expert represents a dog food company. I find interesting that while many vets distrust any information from anybody who sells anything, they are happy to accept nutritional expertise from dog food companies. Why such inconsistency in the outlook? What is making the difference in their minds? Would love to know that.

Pamela
Pamela

The reason we'll never have true transparency from pet food producers is because the issues are related to human food. Human food production is horrendous and the by-products from that system are what go into pet foods. We can't be assured of quality pet foods when we're unwilling to look at how we support a chain of meat production that's bad for animals, humans, and the environment. And I'm not good at doing this myself. I make far too many compromises that support agribusinesses over sustainable farming. But we need to look at all these hard issues to see serious change. Looking forward to hearing the podcast.

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