Fish meal. Corn. Turkey meal. Cod head. By-products, of ANY kind. Dried beets. Salt. Sugar. Salmon meal. Soy. Propylene glycol. Gluten. Animal fat.
Crap-in-a-can. Or a bag.
These are some of the ingredients I saw listed on a popular can of dog food readily available at the local supermarket.
My first reaction was, “Why would anyone who loves his or her animal companion feed this garbage, especially when most of us understand that poor nutrition leads to higher medical bills later on?”
Cost is one reason. The cheapest, lowest-quality ingredients tend to be in the cheapest food. But not always. If you look back at the pet food report I posted here a few months ago, even the more expensive brands can cut corners and use “fillers” to bulk up the contents.
Deceptive marketing is another reason. No pet food company in its right mind will include “rendered” products in the list of ingredients. Carcass from roadkill, downed farm animals and animal shelters, hooves, feathers, diseased organs with tumors, and residue from vaccines all find their way to pet food from the local rendering plant. When Friskies and 9-Lives were exposed in the late 1970s for using by- products from rendering plants in their pet food, the public was outraged. But the public really got mad when it learned this was an industry-wide practice and other pet food companies were also following along. Reason: cheap ingredients are a great substitute for real meat.
The pet food industry promised to stop using rendered products in their pet food, but anyone hear of Mad Cow Disease? The carcasses of dead, diseased or sick cows were finding their way into the food supply of live cows.
Rendering plants deal with the unpleasant task of disposing of dead animals, of which there seems to be an endless supply. They aren’t well-regulated, and they are allowed to “re-purpose” body parts. The law does allow them to sell their “by-products” to agricultural and pet food industries but not to companies for human consumption.
But the clever marketing staff at Purina and Pedigree realize that many consumers know that code words like “by-products” can actually mean rendered body parts, fillers or questionable ingredients from an unknown source. The newest euphemism is “meal.” Turkey meal, fish meal, chicken meal, bone meal, poultry meal, etc.
According to the AAFCO, the government agency that does a poor job of regulating the pet food industry, “meal” can consist of any or all of the following four ingredients: muscle meat, organ meat, bone and rendered products.
If you are a legitimate pet food company like Orijen and want your customers to know that you are using the best quality, species-appropriate ingredients available, are you going to list ingredients as grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, or organic turkey? Or will you describe ingredients with terms such as meat meal, cod head or poultry by-products?
And by the way, be aware that “species appropriate” means that your dog or cat may not thrive on a seafood diet. According to wholistic veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker, seafood is NOT the best source of protein and can contain toxic metals, chemicals and pesticides. Fish meal or any of its alternates such as salmon meal often include deadly preservatives. A little fish now and then such as wild-caught Alaskan salmon is not harmful. Always question the source of the food and avoid fish meal altogether.
Convenience feeding of our animal companions comes at a cost. With less and less of us cooking for ourselves anymore, preparing natural foods for FluffyButt and Hurricane is unlikely, especially after a long day at work. After the youthful years of our dogs and cats begin to fade, that is when years of poor nutrition begins to rear its ugly head in the form of autoimmune symptoms, tumors, joint disease, and dementia, along with increasing vet bills.
Progress, not Perfection, should be our goal. Even if you don’t have the time to prepare natural pet food or can’t afford to buy the best commercial brand of pet food, get the best quality food you CAN afford and alternate it with less-costly food.
Next month I will be talking about a nutraceutical company that has been making its human-grade mineral supplements for horses, dogs, cats and plants since 1933 with astounding results. And what I REALLY like about this family-owned business is that they understand the energetics behind minerals and the soil. The book, The Enlivened Rock Powders (1994) by Harvey Lisle, is highly recommended.
Woowoo science is becoming mainstream!
As always, I welcome your comments, reactions and feedback.