Pet Food Ingredient Breakdown – #3

A premium line of dog foods recently reformulated their products and, call me Suspicious Sally, but I know the country is facing an economic crunch and I wondered how the new ingredients would stand up to scrutiny. Here are the first ingredients listed in one of the new formulas:

Beef, brewers rice, whole grain wheat, corn gluten meal, poultry by-product meal, animal fat, whole grain corn, soy flour, soybean meal, dried beet pulp, fish meal, animal digest, glycerin

Beef – OK. Ideally this would be USDA inspected beef muscle meat, obtained from local, humane, sustainable farming methods – not feedlot misery. But yeah, I know I’m dreaming.

Brewer’s Rice – Alcohol industry waste product which, if not bought by pet food companies, would otherwise end up in the trash bin. AAFCO allows this ingredient to contain “spent hops in an amount not to exceed 3 percent.” Spent hops, when ingested by dogs, can be fatal.

Whole Grain Wheat – OK for some dogs but it is a common allergen

Corn Gluten Meal: Waste product from facilities manufacturing corn syrup, used in the extrusion process to bind kibble. Corn gluten is one of many known contaminated pet food ingredients to have poisoned pets in the past.

Poultry By-Product Meal: The bits that people won’t eat (such as heads, intestines, and feet) but from what kind of poultry – anyone know? Does the manufacturer know? Apparently not.

Animal Fat – AAFCO describes this as fat from mammals and/or poultry. Dang, how would YOU like to have a dinner made from “mammals”. Kinda horror flick like.

Whole Grain Corn – indigestible by dogs, another common allergen

Soy Flour and Soybean Meal – Soy is a common allergen in dogs. The flour is presumably used as a binding agent, while soybean meal is simply waste product of the soybean oil extraction process.

Dried Beet Pulp – Dried residue from sugar beets which is yet another ingredient used in pet foods which would otherwise be sent to the landfill. Pet food companies use it because it binds the stool and apparently as owners, we are so excited to see firm stool that we don’t care if it’s the result of some junk ingredient added to the food as opposed to an accurate reflection of good nutrition and healthy digestion. Gosh, we’re dumb.

Fish Meal – What kind of fish is “Fish”? In order to comply with US Coast Guard regulations, all fish meal must be preserved with ethoxyquin. The pet food manufacturer need not list the ethoxyquin as an ingredient since they didn’t add it themselves.

Animal Digest – Ick.

Glycerin – a waste product of the bio-fuel industry

Overall product ingredients review: *sounds buzzer* It looks like this company has cut corners even further in order to try and maintain profitability during the economic crisis. Too bad for the dogs who rely on this food as their main source of nourishment. To my mind, a diet of healthy table scraps would be far superior.

Pet Food Ingredient Breakdown – #2

Today, I looked at a new, AAFCO approved food on the market for dogs. It contains all the usual advertising tags which make me suspicious: “100% complete and balanced”, “No fillers”, “High quality proteins”, etc. Here are the first seven ingredients leading up to the first source of fat:

1. Rice Flour – This is the main ingredient of the only food you want me to feed my dog – rice flour? Isn’t that better used for making gluten-free baked goods or something? Flour comes in a sack and it’s all powdery. My dog doesn’t want that as the main ingredient in his dinner! And I question the quality of any flour sold for use in pet food. I assume that like many other pet food ingredients, it’s of lower quality than the flour sold for human consumption in my local grocery store. Exactly how much nutrition is my dog supposed to get from this pet food grade sack of flour? The “no fillers” claim isn’t sounding so truthful right about now.

2. Chicken By-Product Meal – This is a euphemism for things such as chicken heads, feet, intestines, lungs, etc. If you don’t know (or won’t say) what exactly you are putting in this food, don’t expect me to feed it to my pets.

3. Meat Broth – What kind of “meat”? A hodgepodge of condemned carcasses that were covered in charcoal to distinguish that they are unfit for human consumption? Or is it something else, just as disgusting? Again, if you either don’t know or won’t tell – I won’t be feeding it.

4. Wheat Flour – See my powdery complaint above.

5. Glycerin – I was reading an article about how excited the pet food industry is about using glycerin – a waste product of the bio-fuel industry – in their products. Me, I was a little less excited.

6. Corn Gluten Meal – Another waste product obtained from the manufacture of corn syrup – not an ingredient I’m inclined to sustain my pet’s life and health on.

7. Corn Flour – Enough with the sacks of powder already – my dog wants some real food!

Overall product ingredients review: 4 paws down! Despite claims of “premium nutrition”, there is not one ingredient appropriate for a dog’s main meal among the first seven ingredients. And the product itself is far more expensive than many on the market. What exactly are we buying?


Related Bit: A group of pet owners have filed a lawsuit against several pet food companies and chain retailers claiming false advertising regarding the wholesomeness of pet foods. I’ll be following this case with interest.

Pet Food Ingredient Breakdown – #1

In my never ending quest to find a great dog food, I recently looked at a premium (AAFCO approved) brand of so-called “natural” kibble which advertised that it contained no ground corn. I know this is an important issue for some pet owners as they don’t want to feed corn due to potential allergies and/or the possibility of aflatoxin contamination. So I looked at the first three ingredients on the bag since the food would contain more of these (by weight) than any of the other ingredients listed. They were: Lamb, brewers rice, corn gluten meal.

1. Lamb – I could not find a direct AAFCO definition but presumably, it’s lamb meat (with or without bones?), which would be largely water. After cooking/processing, the amount of lamb meat remaining (“lamb meal”) is greatly reduced and would most likely not be the first listed ingredient in the food. I consider this a way to fool consumers into thinking they are purchasing a meat based food when in fact they are not. Note: The label indicated the lamb meat originated in two foreign countries but I don’t know whether it was inspected by any human food agencies since that information was not provided.

2. Brewer’s Rice – AAFCO’s definition states “the dried extracted residue of rice resulting from the manufacture of wort (liquid portion of malted grain) or beer and may contain pulverized dried spent hops in an amount not to exceed 3 percent.” My version: Alcohol industry waste product which if not bought by pet food companies, would otherwise end up in the trash bin. Note: Spent hops, when ingested by dogs, can be fatal.

3. Corn Gluten Meal – AAFCO defines as “the dried residue from corn after the removal of the larger part of the starch and germ, and the separation of the bran by the process employed in the wet milling manufacture of corn starch or syrup, or by enzymatic treatment of the endosperm.” My version: Waste product from facilities manufacturing corn syrup. Note: this dog food is not sounding so good for pet owners trying to avoid feeding corn after all.

A more in-depth explanation of corn gluten meal:

Corn gluten meal (CGM) is a co-product from corn wet milling, the process responsible for production of corn sweeteners and corn syrup. In the wet milling process, corn is cleaned and then steeped in a water/sulfur dioxide mixture at 50°C. This acidic stew activates the inherent lactobacillus organisms, which begin to break down the corn seed.

The water and germ are then separated from the flint and protein by a water cyclone and the resulting material is ground. Hulls are removed by screening and the protein is separated from the starch by centrifugation. The protein (gluten) mash is then dried and sized. Corn gluten consists of four major classes of protein: Albumins, globulins, glutelins and zein (prolimines). While corn gluten doesn’t have the same level of functionality as wheat gluten for bread production, it does retain some functional proteins that are beneficial in extrusion.

Extrusion of course, is how most kibble is made.

Overall product ingredients review: Truth in advertising? Hmm, not so much – particularly with respect to the “no ground corn” claim which the company knows, or should know, will attract consumers looking for a food free of corn and corn products, which this food isn’t. 2 out of 3 main ingredients are waste products from other food industries and the primary ingredient (“lamb”) is mainly water. I’m not inclined to look favorably on the product.

My quest will continue.