31st Mar 2011

Is This ‘Dehydrated Raw’ Pet Food Really Raw?

Consumer be ware of companies that claim their pet foods are dehydrated raw if their claims aren’t verified by an unbiased 3rd party! So far only organic certification assures you that pet food manufacturers have to declare in a legal document if the ingredients they use are heat treated (e.g., cooked or boiled) and how they are processed.

For the past several years we have observed that one particular pet food manufacturer has made its reputation offering so called “raw dehydrated pet foods” for cats and dogs. However, lately we have seen that they (have had to?) publicly admit in some places (e.g., pet food industry magazines, own press releases, and a few words hidden in a somewhat confusing temperature statement on their web site) that the animal-derived ingredients they use are “essentially cooked” before they are mixed with the other dried ingredients which they have dehydrated later in a contract (but “human grade”) food processing plant.

It has not been easy to make sure we didn’t misread this the first few times we came across this ‘secret’ heat processing information. But lately the company seems to have become more transparent to admit that the animal ingredients used in their dehydrated products are indeed cooked. Maybe this openness is based on a legal issue the company may have encountered? For sure, they meanwhile have succeeded to fool many of their customers (retail stores and consumers alike) to believe their statements about raw dehydrated are true!

Anyway; this is what you should learn: Even if a company repeats over and over again that their foods are raw, you better check to see if this is true. (Interestingly, the same company keeps repeating their pet foods are organic, while they may or may not use a cheap organic ingredient to 2 or maybe 3 in some of their cooked/baked ‘raw’ pet food products).

Unfortunately, only certified organic pet food products are tightly regulated. Only manufacturers of certified organic pet food products have to disclose all their processing and ingredient sources to an independent agency. But at least this can give consumers and retailers alike the confidence that they aren’t outright (repeatedly and successfully) lied to by a manufacturer.

If you think ‘made in a human grade facility’ claims warrant anything in respect to pet food manufacturers’ truthfulness and disclosure, listen up. While certified organic pet food manufacturing sites are inspected at least once a year, a human food manufacturing site may be inspected once in 10 years or so. Great, ha?

It’s sad to say, but trust isn’t what a consumer can build on when choosing a dehydrated ‘raw’ pet food. The only way to assure truthfulness of ‘raw dehydrated’ (and most other!) pet food claims is to check for the proof that an unbiased third party has access to all of a manufacturer’s records, and at this point this restricts it to certified organic pet food products. – Just look for the USDA organic seal on the packaging or website. The abuse of this seal is punished heavily and therefore abuse of this seal happens very rarely [Can you see what regulations can achieve, if they just exist :-) ]

The even worse news is that apparently raw pet food retailers who KNOW about a (this particular) manufacturer’s deceptive use of cooked ingredients in their dehydrated raw pet foods, keep selling those foods as ‘raw’ to their customers who expect pet foods that are indeed raw. I have had several customers approach me about this lately and I couldn’t agree more with their disapproval of such deceptive practices.

Well, that’s what consumers fall prey to if you leave it up to some industry members……..

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