Archive for the 'Raw Pet Food' Category

12th Jul 2011

Raw Dog Foods and Cat Foods aren’t Made with Steamed Fish or Meat

This blog title seems too weird to be worth writing about. So why bother?

Because the competition doesn’t sleep. Perhaps they want to make sure they can’t be accused of actually breaking the law. Nevertheless, they may well be violating consumers’ trust. Oh well…why not, if you can make money hand over fist and no one’s the wiser?

For years, a pet food company that I can’t name here has promoted their pet foods (e.g., cat food and dog foods) as ‘raw,’ ‘dehydrated,’ and ‘human grade, among other things. But, they’ve also passed their products off as ‘organic’ even though none of these products have actually been certified as organic. Companies like mine work very hard to meet USDA organic standards, and we pay a heavy premium for our organic ingredients and certification fees to do so–not to mention the additional time we spend to maintain our certification. Anyone who purchases an Onesta Organics product can rest assured that they’re getting truly organic pet foods of the very highest quality. Anyone who purchases from the competitor I mention here can’t be sure what they’re getting; they can’t verify this competitor’s claims, and sadly, they probably don’t know any better.

Raw pet food?

Recently, this company posted updated information on their website about their raw dog and cat foods. They now admit that their “…fresh raw meats and white fish undergo gentle steaming at 140°F to 165°F.” You’ve gotta love the use of the terms, ‘fresh,’ ‘raw,’ and ‘gentle’ in this sentence – could it be that these words are meant to take the ‘heat’ out of the term, ‘steaming,’ which they also use in the same update?

Steaming at 140°F to 165°F may appear to be ‘gentle’ to many folks. But the reality is that steaming any food achieves the same end result as actually cooking that food, i.e., steamed fish and meat are indeed cooked. And curiously, as the company states in one of their own press releases, the products in question are ‘essentially cooked.

The revealing information discussed above isn’t easy to find on this company’s SEO-friendly, but somewhat confusingly organized, website without the use of key words such as ‘gentle,’ ‘steaming,’ ‘fish,’ ‘meat,’ ‘dehydration,’ and ‘pet food’ (as a matter of fact, after reading this, you should go ahead and google these very terms to see what listings come up; it’ll be very educational–I guarantee it!). This company’s site is so chock full of detailed information that one could easily overlook the fact that steamed (read ‘cooked’) ingredients are actually being used in products marketed as ‘raw’ and ‘gently dehydrated.’

No sour grapes here–just an impassioned plea to the consumer to educate themselves…and beware.

It’s sad that dishonesty of a few casts a bad light on all members of an industry.

Anyway. Just another hot topic to share.

Posted by Posted by Heidi Junger, PhD under Filed under Raw Pet Food Comments Comments Off

24th Jun 2011

Is Your Dog or Cat Food Really Raw?

Not all raw pet foods are created raw.

Some dehydrated pet foods contain cooked meats, eggs, and fish but are marketed as ‘raw.’

It is unbelievable to me that such deceptive marketing is allowed. But then, one of these ‘dehydrated raw’ pet food manufacturers also markets their conventional (non-organic) pet foods very successfully as organic although their products aren’t organic at all.

It is sad but true that customers have to do a lot of leg work (or, nowadays, reading work) to find out the truth. Honesty isn’t everybody’s strength even if a suggestive name would leave you with this impression.

What makes it harder to find out the truth about one particular raw pet food scam is that a prominent raw feeder group (based in San Francisco) is selling such ‘dehydrated raw’ pet foods knowing that the company uses cooked animal-derived ingredients. Other retailers may either simply not know this little secret, or, for the sake of sales, they decide just as the raw feeder group, to keep these products on the shelf without explaining to customers that the main ingredients aren’t raw but cooked.

As always, buyer beware. Not every marketing claim can be believed, and in the case of the largely unregulated pet food industry, such intentional deceptions are more frequent than one would expect from the beautiful ads companies share with the world.

This is a good time to remind everybody that organic certification is the best assurance that marketing claims are really true. So far, certified organic pet foods are the most regulated ones,* which means that an unbiased party can verify a company’s claims. Until other regulations catch up with deceptive marketing, your best bet is to choose USDA organic pet foods to get what you are paying for

* Certified organic pet food companies are also expected at least once a year, while even human food processing plants are often inspected less than once in a decade (!)

Posted by Posted by Heidi Junger, PhD under Filed under Raw Pet Food, Regulations Comments Comments Off

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……..

Posted by Posted by Heidi Junger, PhD under Filed under Raw Pet Food, Regulations Comments Comments Off

05th Jun 2009

What’s so Hot about Raw Pet Foods?

You may have come across several ”raw fooder’ sites describing Edward Howell’s feeding trials of cats with cooked and raw foods. Recently published experimental data show that all nutrients are affected by excessive heat. Due to economic interest, many of these studies investigate the stability of milk proteins.

It has been clearly demonstrated that every high heat process, including pasteurization, decreases antioxidant properties and causes loss of most enzymes and many vitamins (particularly A, E, C, B(1), and folic acid.) Pasteurization is also known to decrease ascorbic acid (vit C), total phenols, and anthocyanins.

High heat causes most prominently starch gelatinization and irreversible protein denaturation (proteins are very unstable at high heat – consider how fast egg white changes its consistency). When exposed to heat, proteins, starches, and non-starch polysaccharides can fragment, creating reactive molecules that may form new linkages not found in nature. Even brief blanching causes leaching of minerals from foods. Furthermore, heat processing causes molecular alterations of the fibers present in food.

The serum protein bovine serum albumin of cows milk is denatured at a temperature of 85 degree C. Heat treatment of proteins (lactablumin, soy protein isolate) at 75 degree C causes formation of unnatural amino acid derivates that may produce adverse and drastic effects on growth, protein digestibility, protein quality, and mineral bioavailability and utilization in rats. At the same time, cysteine, lysine, threonine, and serine are lost in heat processed food.

Excessive heat treatment of infant formulas induces copper deficiency in infant rhesus monkeys. Heat treatment of infant formula and milk causes not only deficient copper plasma levels and reduced bioavailability of amino acids and lysine levels, but also strong protein-protein and protein-lipid interactions. These interactions increase with increasing processing temperature which supports the notion that heat impairs protein digestibility. Damage to food proteins are also explained by complex biochemical reactions between proteins and carbohydrates and oxidation.

Another study confirms that anti-nutritional factors (e.g., oxidized amino acids, D-amino acids, unnatural amino acid derivatives) are formed during heat processing of casein, lactalbumin, soy protein isolate, and wheat proteins. These factors have been shown to be poorly digestible (less than 40%) and their presence significantly reduced protein digestibility in rats and pigs.

Cooking of meat of fish does not only cause denaturing of proteins and formation of anti-nutritional factors, but can also induce formation of potentially carcinogenic compounds.

An in vitro* study shows that pressure cooking, dehulling, germinating, and soaking all improved starch and protein digestibility of beans. However, the most effective improvement in digestibility of starch and protein was brought about by germination, followed by dehulling, and soaking. [* This in vitro study used test tube studies to obtain its data. Test tube results don’t always predict what occurs in vivo.]

The general concept about the effect of heat on proteins might be summarized in a review by Swedish researchers where it is stated that reduced protein digestibility is primarily associated with excessive heat.

This research strongly suggests that heat treatment of pet foods affects almost all nutrients both qualitatively and quantitatively, and also causes impaired protein digestibility. Better options are raw pet foods that contain nutrients in the form with which our pets’ bodies evolved.

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Onesta Organics

Posted by Posted by Heidi Junger, PhD under Filed under Raw Pet Food Comments Comments Off