Answer: Industrial waste!
Love Parmesan cheese? Best you check the label. Cellulose or Powdered Cellulose is essentially nothing more than 100% filler. “Powdered cellulose is purified, mechanically disintegrated cellulose prepared by processing alpha cellulose obtained as a pulp from fibrous plant material. In other words, sawdust.” Cellulose is commonly used in attic insulation. Don’t think it’s just being used in your pet feed. Most Parmesan cheeses use cellulose to “bulk out” the cheese – you pay the same (or more), and you get less. Or maybe your favourite creamy Ice Cream.
In the pet feed manufacturing process, it serves as a source of fibre. Pet food manufacturers stress the importance of fibre in dog diets, despite that the canine ancestral diet contains only minimal amounts of fibre. It’s fair to question why. The answer lies in “least cost mix” protocols.
Fibre increases bulk and water in the intestinal contents, benefiting conditions of both diarrhoea and constipation, by controlling the rate at which food passes through the digestive tract. Fibre can also help balance a dog’s gut microbiome: some fibres break down in the intestine into fatty acids, which help prevent overgrowth of hostile bacteria. Fibre binds certain toxins in the gut and removes them from the body in faeces; while allowing time for nutrients and water to pass from the large intestine into the bloodstream.
Fibre in dog food may be soluble or non-soluble (insoluble). Soluble fibre dissolves in and absorbs water and is more digestible than insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre promotes smooth passage of food to the GI tract, while insoluble fiber speeds up the rate at which food passes through: this is why many so-called “diet” or “reduced calories” foods are fibre heavy.
Certain legumes, oats, rye, barley, some fruits and vegetables, root tubers, root vegetables, psyllium husk, flaxseeds and nuts are sources of soluble fibre. Insoluble fibre is found in wheat and corn bran, beans, peas, particular nuts and seeds, as well as the skin of potatoes, plant polyphenols (lignans) found in green beans, cauliflower, zucchini and fruits, including avocado; also, the skin of some fruits, including kiwifruit and tomatoes.
Fibrs are fermentable and non-fermentable. Fermentable fibres – generally soluble rather than insoluble – are broken down by bacteria in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract; the nutrients can be converted to energy.
Fibre in dog food is often cost-selected industrial waste, examples being beet pulp (a by-product of sugar beet production (see: GMO production, immediately below); buckwheat and other grain hulls, flaxseed (rich in lignan precursors), fruit pectin, guar gum, oat bran, peanut shells, powdered cellulose (wood pulp, or: sawdust), psyllium (husks of the Plantago ovata plant’s seeds), and tomato pomace (leftover pulp from pressing tomatoes).
Processed commercial canine diets may well benefit from the addition of a small amount of appropriate fibre (example: from low glycaemic vegetables), assuming it is a type that faithfully mimics the GI contents of small prey animals. However, modern dog foods often – if not generally – use industrial waste fiber as a part of “least cost mix” protocols as filler, which inhibits ordinary digestion (example: cellulose can deprive cells in the colon of butyrate, needed for energy production), and absorption of many vital nutrients.
Get his – the pet feed industry has brain washed pet parents into thinking that large volumes of stool are a good thing! “Faeces volume and consistency are indicators of the quality of dog foods.” “Three independent feeding trials with dogs show that a fibrillated, cellulose-rich fibre lowers faeces volume, enhances digestion and maintains optimum faeces consistency.” What a load of “crap“! The reality is that powdered cellulose has a tremendous amount of insoluble fiber, which can inhibit your digestion and absorption of important nutrients like protein and minerals!
The bottom line is this: fillers in commercial pet food are there for the benefit of the manufacturers, not for the animals who will be fed their formulas. The other benefit of these formulas is that they are affordable for most pet parents.