An invented term of deception?
Pet parents may be confused by terms which make grains sound better than they may in fact be. Brewer’s rice (used as a common protein source) sounds appealing to consumers but is a by-product: simply broken or chipped rice; the small fragments of rice kernels that separate out from the larger kernels of milled rice. As a final ingredient, it is a mixture of broken rice, rice bran, and rice germ. Brewers rice and second heads are one of the many by-products created by milling rice: second heads are milled rice kernels that are ½ – ¾ of the original kernel; while Brewers rice is a milled rice kernel that is ¼ – ½ the size of a full kernel.
Second heads, if of acceptable quality, are used to make rice flour; but if the quality of the second heads are poor, they will be sold for pet food or dairy feed (Brewer’s rice) as part of “least cost mix” protocols. It is a processed ingredient bereft of nutritional value that would be present in any rice. The term Brewer’s rice was created by the AAFCO, and it is sold exclusively for pet feed and dairy feed.
To survive attack by stressors, fungi adapt to produce a wide range of toxins as protection from bacteria, viruses, or predators (such as storage mites). Aflatoxins, ochratoxins, trichothecenes, zearalenone, fumonisins and fusaric acid have been found in the ingredients and final products of pet foods. Mycotoxins (toxic secondary metabolites) are present in almost all grains (corn, wheat, rice, barley, oats, soybeans, peanuts, pearl millet, rice), and consumption of mycotoxins is essentially unavoidable if your dog eats grain-based food.
More than acute (immediate) toxicity, mycotoxins suppress the entire canine immune system, and prolonged low-level exposure to these poisons contributes to increased disease incidence, damage to vital body organs, interference with protein synthesis and reproductive capabilities, causes genotoxic mutations in DNA, anorexia, and ultimately, even cancer from (Tremorgenic) mycotoxicosis. Exposure to a particular mycotoxin can be amplified by the synergistic activation that occurs when multiple mycotoxins are present, and aside from hepatoxicity (chemical driven liver damage) are carcinogenic (cancer causing).
Corn-based foods invariably contain fumonisins (Fusarium, Liseola section) leading to disturbed metabolism and cardiovascular dysfunction; and likely aflatoxins, as peanuts are often used as protein in “diet” formulations and often contaminated with aflatoxins. Wheat foods have vomitoxins (protein inhibitors which affect the central nervous system), also common in barley, oats, rye, maize, and sometimes, rice. Repeated heat processing can form heterogenic amines (carcinogens).
- Acrylamides: (chemistry: noun) a colourless, odourless, toxic crystalline compound, C3H5NO, soluble in water, alcohol, and acetone: used in the synthesis of polyacrylamide and other organic materials, as textile fibres, in the processing of ore, and in the treatment of sewage.
- Endotoxins are a lipopolysaccharide (LPS) complex found in the outer membrane of the cell wall of Gram-negative bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Salmonella.
A 2003 survey (Lawrence Liverpool National Laboratory) found that virtually all commercial dry dog foods tested contained these substances; and hypothesized that there was a connection to cancer in animals consuming these foods (1).
A 2007 report published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology suggests that chronic exposure to even low levels of these mycotoxins – such as would occur with daily feeding of grain-based dry foods – can cause serious health consequences to the dog. Authors Boermans and Leung discuss that existing studies of mycotoxin contamination in pet food neglect the day-to-day consumption of small amounts of mycotoxins; not “food poisoning” as we would expect, but resulting in “chronic diseases such as liver and kidney fibrosis, infections resulting from immuno-suppression and cancer.”
In 2017 a similar study was performed to determine the level of mycotoxin contamination of supermarket and premium brand pelleted dog food in Durban, South Africa (2). These feeds were analysed for four main mycotoxins (aflatoxins, fumonisin, ochratoxin A [OTA] and zearalenone [ZEA]) using standard well-described extraction, characterisation and quantitation processes. The outcome of the study highlighted that irrespective of the marketing channel or price range, all samples tested presented a potential health risk to dogs, as all samples contained various levels of mycotoxin.
Acute or chronic long-term exposure to endotoxins (particularly when the same brand or type of food is used continuously) can precipitate a cascade of adverse health consequences and may contribute to development of chronic degenerative diseases. Endotoxins elicit strong immune response in dogs, triggering the release of histamine and inflammatory cytokines, change white blood cell numbers, affect blood coagulation, and lead to hypertension, arthritis, respiratory disease and organ failure. Endotoxins are expected to damage cell DNA with carcinogenic consequences. Carcinogenic heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are formed when meat by-products from “4-D” animals is rendered, in order to destroy bacteria, so that it can be used in dog food.