Meat “Glue” or Real Ingredients?
Industry scientists assign a profile of synthetic colours and additives to give the mixture an appealing colour or texture (to achieve the marbled-look of real meat, the mixture may be cooked unevenly: with half of the batch coloured red and the other white); or to design gelatinous “gravy”.
The US FDA “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) products include transglutaminase, commonly known as “meat glue”, (produced through the fermentation of bacteria): used to bind together scraps of “meat”. Or more simply, just use Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) as a manufactured meat analogue: a substitute for meat. They also configure protocols for emulsifiers (colloidal suspension tools, such as gums: to bind completely immiscible ingredients), grinding agents, anti-fungal agents, thickeners, and stabilizers.
Since the dog is clearly not concerned with the colour or appearance of his food: this carefully researched, high-tech factory makeover is solely on behalf of his guardian’s conscience, and to appeal to his sensibilities as a consumer, you the pet parent.
Because recipes must anticipate aggressive vitamin losses from the extrusion process used in manufacture, and 50-80% antioxidant losses owing to temperature and pressure processes, two-dozen synthesized compounds may be sprayed on to redeem a “fully balanced” nutritional profile… based on poorly modelled (and outdated) industry-funded research.
Of the four group categories (protein, carbohydrates, fat, fibre), the reality is that most grocery store brands are based on simple (not complex) carbohydrates derived from grain (often rancid: see, discussion), sucrose and corn syrup (sugar), discarded fats and bulking agents (for cost control), or indigestible fibres (cellulose) such as sawdust, peanut hulls, hair, newspapers and cotton; all coloured with (untested) dyes and masked by texturing agents such as propylene glycol (C3H8O2, a humectant: also used as a solvent). Available proteins are commonly derived from bagged “meat meals” (dried products that are easy to transport, store, and mix), and may be preserved with ethoxyquin (a carcinogen), which, in the case of “fish meal“, is required by US federal law.
Finally, cooking high carbohydrate food components and grains at high temperatures (which is necessary to sterilize decaying and mouldy ingredients, or to control insect infestation) may stimulate the creation of genotoxic Maillard reaction products (MRPs), heterocyclic amines and acrylamides, (carcinogens that cause DNA mutation), and mycotoxins (fungal waste products: see below), which are known to have developed resistance to degradation from heat sterilization.
Many dry dog foods are formulated to withstand sitting on store shelves for years: a 23 kg (50 pound) dog on a dry diet consumes an average of 8 kgs (18 pounds) of preservatives annually. Acrylamide (C3H5NO) was recognized in the mid-2000s by the World Health Organization as a major concern: a genotoxic, neurotoxic, carcinogenic chemical, given its ability to induce cancers and heritable damage at gene and chromosomal level, causing mutations in laboratory animals. Research had shown that when certain foods were cooked at temperatures above 120 degrees Celsius / 248 degrees Fahrenheit, acrylamide (also found in cigarette smoke) can form.
Typical pet feed (and livestock) formulations are highly-processed cereal and potato-based “least cost mix” carbohydrate recipes. To overcome bacterial contamination that is inevitable when by-products are part of these recipes, pet food and animal feed manufacturers must (by law) high heat process multiple times: the material is then known as “rework.” These are the ideal conditions to create even higher levels of acrylamides. When potatoes are overcooked acrylamide levels can rise to 20 times higher.
Despite claims of rendering trade association lobbyists in the United States, research has shown that pathogenic bacterial toxins (endotoxins: toxins that are released on bacterial death), fungal toxins, pharmaceutical drugs, chemical residues, GMO’s, toxic AGEs (advanced glycation end products) generated in late-stage Maillard Reaction products, and heavy metals are not destroyed during the process of rendering diseased or otherwise unfit animal tissues for pet foods.
AGEs speed up oxidative damage to cells, altering their normal behaviour: through the association with receptors that bind with AGEs (RAGE) in the glycation process, glucose can tie to proteins which reduce cell pliability, resulting in activation of pro-inflammatory genes that subject cells to damage and premature ageing. The compounds can affect nearly every type of cell and factor in chronic ageing diseases, vascular damage, diabetes, and renal failure.
A dog fed dry “convenience” food is continually exposed to these toxins across his lifetime …
.. a 23 kg (50 pound) dog on a dry diet consumes an average of 8 kgs (18 pounds) of preservatives annually ..
The costs: proclivity for developing diabetes, lipidosis and pancreatitis, urinary tract infections, inflammatory bowel disease, renal failure, hyperthyroidism, bacterial infections & periodontal disease, heart disease, arthritis, atopic dermatitis, mycotoxicosis, and other chronic and life-threatening afflictions. Based on nearly-valueless high carbohydrate grains, the protein-starved dog instinctively overeats to compensate: obesity being the gateway to a myriad of health issues.
The detoxification mechanisms of dogs were developed over thousands of years, designed to cope with the natural pathogens an animal would encounter over its lifetime. As much as 80% of a dog’s immune system resides in his digestive intestinal tissues and is known as GALT (gut associated lymphatic tissue); or simply: his gut.
Under an unrelenting assault from toxins and impurities in poor quality foods, the level of beneficial gut bacteria (the “microbiome”) diminishes and the gut can no longer maintain the balance of appropriate immune response. This leads to a general state of inflammation known as “leaky gut syndrome”: the intestinal wall becomes permeable and undigested food particles along with other foreign bodies can pass directly into the blood stream prior to being properly digested in the small intestine.
Although many systemic and chronic conditions might seem unrelated to the digestive system, in fact, problems such as joint issues (weakened joints, dysplasia, arthritis), upper respiratory infections and rhinitis, autoimmune diseases, ear and eye infections, skin issues and even anxiety/stress are inflammatory processes.
So-called convenience foods are a recent phenomenon: dry foods materializing only in the last few decades. During that time, the average lifespan of dogs has declined by 18%; and the cellular lifespan (how long cells live and reproduce/replace themselves) of dogs is nearly double the actual average lifespan.
If modern dog feed is as nutritious as advertisements claim they are, why do dogs die so young?