Fooding for Life

Don’t be Label Fooled ..

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A new trend in kibble is "natural", or "real" or "fresh" ingredients. Kibble is still kibble, and still based on a dry matter base. In keeping with labelling requirements, these ingredients are listed by weight, but "real" chicken contains water! And when it becomes dry, it no longer represent the "chicken" in the feed, as the rest of the non-animal proteins are now the primary ingredients.

Never judge a bag by its cover!

Demand drives the market, and as a result, BigPetFood is starting to incorporate some of the pet parents and guardians concerns into their marketing and “production” capabilities. Nutritional awareness and understanding is changing the way informed pet parents and guardians are evaluating McKibble and McCan diets.

Informed pet parents are looking for alternatives, and if we consider insights into some of the research driving these trends (Petfood, then 83% of “new age thinking” pet parents are willing to spend extra on their pets’ diets to ensure the wellness of their pets. The same research also indicates that 75% of pet parents are now of the opinion that natural / organic pet foods are more nutritious than regular McKibble and McCan.

Enter the BigPetFood Marketing Engines

A good source of protein is, by far, the most expensive ingredient required for your fur kids to thrive. It should form the biggest part of the meal. Real protein that is – biologically, species appropriate, digestible and bioavailable.

However, to meet the “demands” of concerned pet parents and guardians, BigPetFood is “changing” formulas to include “fresh” or “real” produce in kibble. Right? If you read our post on deciphering pet food labels, then you will understand that they must list ingredients by weight before the kibble is produced. Perfect right – kibble now include real chicken?

You see, lately the advertising of kibble has been changed to include the words “Real”. You can take most of the new kibble offerings, and find “Made with Real [protein]” or “Real [protein] is the #1 ingredient” … you can substitute [protein] with chicken, turkey, lamb .. etc.

However, you should be aware that “Real” is not defined within AAFCO, and thereby implying, South African legislation, pet food definitions. Despite that, many kibble companies proudly state their pet foods are made with “real” ingredients!

More importantly, you should also be aware that no ingredient is affected by water weight more than protein!

Take that new bag of kibble that boasts it’s made with “real chicken as the 1st ingredient”. Now, if we check the USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (see: USDA FoodData Central Search (Search)), then we realise that a whole chicken raw contains roughly 66% water (70% for the purpose of our hypothetical scenario below). Considering its weight, it will of course make the first ingredient before the kibble ingredients are rendered or extruded. But, once the kibble is processed, this kibble will end up as a dry feed – and most of the other ingredients that are added to the feed are also dry. The idea is to make it look like it has more protein that it really does, and that it’s made from “natural” or “real” ingredients.

Continuing with our hypothetical scenario – let’s assume that when this feed is made, they add 40% chicken, 25% green peas, red lentils, pinto beans, chickpeas, green lentils, yellow peas, lentil fibre, 15% butternut squash, kale, spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, turnip greens, carrots, apples, pears, 10% chicken by-product meal, 5% freeze dried liver, and 5% chicory root, sarsaparilla root and althea root.

While the chicken contains water, all the other ingredients are probably added dry. Once the kibble is processed and dried, the chicken will lose 70% of its weight. Therefore, if the chicken was added as 40% of the ingredients, then the amount of chicken in the final product after drying will be just 12%. The result is that there is very little actual chicken (or animal) protein in the feed, this meal is primarily lentils and peas! Of course, this is a hypothetical scenario, as BigPetFood do not have to declare the make-up of their formulas.

But, the net result is a kibble with 29% crude protein minimum in the bag, based on the label! Great – you did say protein is important. Indeed, but based on the hypothetical scenario, the protein is now no longer based on animal protein, but instead on plant protein (lentils and peas). So, what’s wrong with this, you ask? Protein is made up of little building blocks called amino acids – and your mutts, pups & nobles uses these amino acids for their health and nutrition.

There are several amino acids that are essential for their health. That means that mutts, pups & nobles cannot manufacture them and absolutely need to get them through their diet. Plants and grains does not contain all the amino acids that your pack rely on. And on the flip side, they might not be easily digested and used as the animal proteins your pack evolved to eat.

Consider the cost of animal protein, BigPetFood love plant-based proteins because they are much cheaper than animal protein. If you spot any grain or starch ingredient on the label that ends in meal, gluten or protein, then you know it is a protein booster of sorts. Examples such as “Corn Meal”, “Flax Meal”, “Pea Protein”, “Wheat Gluten”, “Corn Gluten Meal”, and so forth … it’s there to improve the label ratings.

To satisfy the amino acid debate, BigPetFood will try and supplement the plant-based proteins with synthetic or artificial amino acids. Look at the label again, and if you see words that sometimes start with L and always end in “ine”, then you know they are trying to fill the gaps. Examples include “L-lys ine”, “DL-methion ine”, “L-cyst ine”, “L-tyros ine” and “L-carnit ine”. These are amino acids that BigPetFood is adding back into McKibble and McCan to fill some gaps. There are 22 amino acids in total, based on research to date (actually, it depends on which reference source you use). All these amino acids are important for our mutts, pups and nobles, but 10 amino acids are considered essential (Arginine, Lysine, Tryptophan, Histidine, Methionine, Valine, Isoleacine, Phenylalanine, Leucine and Threonine). For our masters, one additional amino acid is added to the list, namely Taurine, or perhaps two, depending on the research referenced. This means that they cannot manufacture them, so these amino acids must be provided through the diet.

However, plugging the holes on the label does not solve the problem either. Those added amino acids are just little chemical buildings blocks, or as science calls it – food fragments. Point is that they are not food. It still means that the expensive kibbles with the “fresh” and “real” ingredients are just that – dead food. The single most important benefit of fooding with real pet cuisine is “life energy”. Food that is whole, fresh, and uncooked, helps the body fend off ageing, improve cell oxygenation, metabolism, and renewal, helps fight off diseases, and are easily digested!

Don’t be Label Fooled, and make the switch to REAL FOOD instead.

References and Research

  • What is Real Meat? By Susan Thixton from the Truth About Pet Food (Truth About Pet Food);
  • 3 Bull$hit Moves Revealed: How Pet Foods Hide Crappy Proteins, by Dana Scott from Dogs Naturally Magazine (Dogs Naturally Magazine) ;
  • Meat in kibble petfood, Anton Beynen (Research Gate);
  • Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (2005), The National Academies of Sciences Engineering Medicine (NAP) ;
  • Essential Amino Acids for your Cat, Robin Mudge from SlimKitty (SlimKitty) ;
  • The significance of the Amino Acids in Canine Nutrition, from The Science Magazine (The Science Magazine) ;
  • Natural, Organic, and Eco-Friendly Pet Products in the U.S., 6th Edition (Packaged Facts);

Reading Pet Food Labels with Dr. Morgan

Raw Food for Pets