Saturday, March 31, 2007

Pet food crisis and analysis

What am I feeding my beloved pet? With all the news reports of contaminated pet foods and animals dying from it I decided to find out. Here is the manufacturers list of ingredients and the information about that ingredient I could locate.

I know the conclusion should come at the end but for anyone that doesn't want to wade through the ingredients I am starting at the end...

Overall this food seems to be nutritionally sound and the ingredients seem safe except for the Menadione sodium bisulfite which I need to investigate before I will be comfortable with it. So I'll wait to give it a big maybe.
That is the ingredients. But the problem in this widespread panic with the current recall and the horrifying deaths reported it is what is not listed that is the problem. It is in the rat poison ingredient that had found its way into the wheat. Rat poison! Why would they not be testing each and every delivery of any grain or grain based product for this before it is put into production? After all, rats are a problem worldwide and I can't imagine a grain storage or processing plant that is free of this vermin. Why then would it be such a devastating surprise to discover that somewhere along the line rat poison was carelessly introduced into the mix? I repeat... Why are shipments not tested BEFORE THEY ENTER THE PRODUCT?
It would cost too much to analyze each shipment? HMMM... Is it really cheaper to kill pets, recall hundreds of products, face public rage and loose the trust of your consumer base? Come on all you pet food CEO's out there. Wise up! Pinching pennies on testing can cost you millions and that just can't be good for the bottom line. So if you can't see the need based on moral grounds. If you can't justify the expense based on the fact it is the right thing to do or because you truly want to provide a safe and nutritional product...Then do it because it is actually good business.
Fortunately our chosen brand does not use any wheat because we searched for a Lamb and rice formula to overcome the doggy gas problem we were experiencing on other foods. But this situation Could occur just as easily with any ingredient derived from any grain. It did make me more aware that I need to know and understand what I am feeding my best friend.

What I use;
Purina One Brand (all ingredient information was taken from independent sources to avoid any possibility of being mislead by the manufacturer)


Lamb (natural source of glucosamine) ~ First ingredient listed should mean that the largest part of this food is actual Lamb. Granted it is not the pretty cuts of lamb I would buy at the grocery store but at least it is real lamb and not Lamb Meal which their web site said is not an ingredient.

brewers rice Brewers rice is a milled rice kernel that is one quarter to half the size of a full kernel. Second heads, depending on their quality are used to make rice flour. If the quality of the second heads are poor, they will be sold for pet food or dairy feed. Brewers rice are sold for pet food and dairy feed exclusively. OK, again not the rice I would serve on the dinner table but real rice non the less.

oat meal ~ meal made from rolled oats. OK, I grew up on a diet of hot oatmeal for breakfast. It is a filler and is promoted as being good for lowering cholesterol levels. I don't know if it serves this purpose for pets but it seems harmless.

corn gluten meal ~ ok this one starts out looking iffy. First hit states "corn gluten meal, has potential as a natural preemergence herbicide. U.S. Patent 5,030,268 "

and here "SUMMARY As a pesticide active ingredient, corn gluten meal is intended for residential non-food use on lawns to prevent emergence of grassy and broad-leaved weeds. The substance is common in many food/feed products and in dietary supplements for humans and animals. This active ingredient is a protein found in corn kernels. It is not harmful to humans, to other non-target organisms, or to the environment. Furthermore, it provides a safer alternative to toxic chemicals commonly used for weed control on lawns."

And another research site says "Corn gluten meal is a high-protein, high-energy ingredient consisting of protein (gluten) and yellow pigments separated in the corn wet-milling process and used in feeding poultry and swine. Another by-product from corn wet-milling is corn gluten feed "

Okay, it sounds safe enough....I think! Although one source seems a bit confused about the meaning of pesticides versus herbicides which definitely leaves room for pause when considering them as a reliable source of information.

poultry by-product meal (natural source of glucosamine)
"Definition: Consists of the ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered poultry, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidably in good processing practices."

Hmmmm...sounds icky and I wonder why it is needed since Lamb, the first ingredient listed is also stated to be a valuable source of glucosamine.

whole grain corn Well, I again do not know why corn is added to what is labeled as Lamb and Rice. At least it is not one of the first ingredients.

animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E)
This one is rendered lard. The source of which is best not thought about if you have a weak stomach. But what about that preservative? Here it is from Wikipedia "Tocopherol, or vitamin E, is a fat-soluble vitamin in eight forms that is an important antioxidant. Vitamin E is often used in skin creams and lotions because it is claimed by the manufacturers to play a role in encouraging skin healing and reducing scarring after injuries such as burns.
Natural vitamin E exists in eight different forms or isomers, four tocopherols and four tocotrienols. All isomers have a chromanol ring, with a hydroxyl group which can donate a hydrogen atom to reduce free radicals and a hydrophobic side chain which allows for penetration into biological membranes. There is an alpha, beta, gamma and delta form of both the tocopherols and tocotrienols, determined by the number of methyl groups on the chromanol ring. Each form has its own biological activity, the measure of potency or functional use in the body.
As a food additive, tocopherol is labeled with these E numbers: E307 (α-tocopherol), E308 (γ-tocopherol), and E309 (δ-tocopherol)."

Sounds like a good thing. I can accept that animal fat is necessary to a balanced diet and of all the possible preservatives out there this one actually is a vitamin which seems safe also.

non-fat yogurt ~ "Lowfat and nonfat: There are three types of yogurt: regular yogurt, lowfat yogurt and nonfat yogurt. Yogurt made from whole milk has at least 3.25 percent milk fat. Lowfat yogurt is made from low fat milk or part-skim milk and has between 2 and 0.5 percent milk fat. Nonfat yogurt is made from skim milk and contains less than 0.5 percent milk fat." from the National Yogurt association.
Recognized as a great source of protein and the bacterias that promote intestinal health this ingredient makes sense. I do wonder if more yogurt could replace the animal fat but do not know if this would be better or not from a nutritional view.

calcium phosphate ~"From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Calcium phosphate is the name given to a family of minerals containing calcium ions (Ca2+) together with orthophosphates (PO43-), metaphosphates or pyrophosphates (P2O74-) and occasionally hydrogen or hydroxide ions."

I am no expert so I am going to just go with what I know. Calcium is needed for strong bones and this is some form or part of calcium.

calcium carbonate ~ "From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Calcium carbonate is a chemical compound, with chemical formula CaCO3. It is commonly used medicinally as a calcium supplement or as an antacid. Calcium carbonate is the active ingredient in agricultural lime. It is a common substance found as rock in all parts of the world and is the main component of seashells and the shell of snails. It is usually the principal cause of hard water"
Again, a form of calcium. This one I am a bit more familiar with since it helps me with acid attacks in the middle of the night.

animal digest ~Animal Digest is a common ingredient used in pet foods. As defined by the AAFCO, it is produced by chemically or enzymatically treating animal tissue (such as flesh, bone, organs, etc.) from slaughterhouses and other sources, in a process akin to rendering.
Again, not very tempting as a meal and not to be further investigated by the feint hearted. Rather like investigating what goes into that hot dog I had for lunch.

potassium chloride ~ Drug Class And Mechanism: Potassium chloride is in the class of drugs called potassium supplements which are used to treat low potassium conditions (hypokalemia) or prevent them from occurring. Potassium is the principal positive ion inside of the cells of the body and is used in nerve conduction, muscle contraction, and normal kidney function. A deficiency of potassium causes weakness, fatigue, heart rhythm problems, paralysis, and kidney dysfunction.
Definitely important to the overall health and well being of animal or human.

caramel color ~ Unnecessary but harmless? This serves to make the food look better to the human buyer but since dogs are colorblind they don't care what color their food is. The question is, would I buy it if it looked gray or beige instead of brown? To be honest....I doubt it. It would look unappetizing to me even if the dog loved it.

salt ~ Some salt is necessary for water retention and electrolytes.

choline chloride ~ Choline chloride, also known as vitamin B
Another vitamin.

L-Lysine monohydrochloride ~ L-lysine is protein amino acid. It is classified as an essential amino acid for humans and therefore must be supplied in the diet. Certain proteins, such as those found in meat, poultry and milk are rich in L-lysine. Proteins found in grains, cereals and their products are typically low in L-lysine. For example, wheat is low in L-lysine; wheat germ, however, is rich in L-lysine. Small amounts of free L-lysine are found in vegetables, vegetable juices and in such fermented foods as miso and yogurt.
Sounds safe and necessary.

brewers dried yeast ~ BREWERS' DRIED YEAST is grown in a wort consisting of an aqueous extract of malt and hops. As the worst is converted by fermentation to the familiar malt beverages - beer and ale, there is a marked increase in the amount of yeast cells through budding. These yeast cells are then harvested as a thick slurry and washed free of residual wort with neutral or alkaline water. This helps remove the original bitter flavor of the hops and gives the product a blander flavor. The washed cells are then dried.
DRIED YEAST, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, provides a ready, dependable, inexpensive and natural food source of the B vitamins and easily assimilated high quality protein, as well as other identified and unidentified nutritive factors.From a scientific viewpoint, Saccharomyces cerevisiae is probably the most widely studied and the best known form of life. Observations made from studies on cerevisiae yeast, and its many products, have contributed to our intimate knowledge of carbohydrate metabolism and B vitamin chemistry. It continues to serve as an experimental tool for the study of metabolism and nutrition.Cerevisiae yeast, through the ages, has been foremost in the production of universal food products.
DRIED YEAST IS:....the oldest and best known plant source of the natural vitamin B complex. It is one of the cornerstones upon which the structure of nutritional science was raised. "Dried Yeast," mentioned in the nutritional literature for the past 50 years or more, refers to Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
DRIED YEAST IS:.....inactive - it has no fermenting power as does live yeast used in leavening bread or in brewing. Processing and drying are carefully controlled so that the yeast is made inactive. It is thus easily digested, yielding its valuable nutritional components for ready assimilation.
DRIED YEAST IS:.....a food product. Dried Yeast is the foremost natural source of the B vitamins. And with its content of high quality protein it is a superior and inexpensive food or food supplement.
DRIED YEAST IS:.....a source of still unidentified nutritional factors which protects against various physiological stresses.
DRIED YEAST IS NOT:.....a bag of chemicals. It is natural whole plant grown as a food crop.
PRODUCTION-GROWTH OF DRIED YEAST Both in Brewers' and Primarily Dried Yeasts, the cell crop - as it grows - develops the excellent protein, vitamins, and other metabolically essential components for which cerevisiae yeast are noted. The drying process, which is the last step in the production of Dried Yeast, destroys the fermenting power and the enzyme activity of the yeast and releases its nutritional components for easy digestion and ready assimilation.Precise study has made it possible to control the levels of many of the nutritive components of Dried Yeast. For example, by careful adjustment of the growing media, some vitamin potencies may be greatly increased during the growth stages. Other vitamins may be assimilated into the yeast tissues while the living cells are in a resting or slowly metabolizing stage. These vitamins are held within the cytoplasm of the yeast cell.Each type of Dried Yeast has certain characteristics which lend it to particular food and pharmaceutical applications. Manufacturers' representatives can advise and discuss the advantages of using either Brewers' or Primary Dried Yeast in a given situation. Chemical and bacteriological analyses and vitamin assays are conducted on every production batch of Dried Yeast and authenticated reports can be supplied to the user verifying the protein and vitamin content.A brief description is given here to help distinguish between the two types of Dried Yeast: Brewers' Dried Yeast and Primary Dried Yeast.
Safe food additive with centuries of use.

zinc sulfate ~ Zinc is a naturally occurring mineral. Zinc is important for growth and for the development and health of body tissues.
Zinc sulfate is used to treat and to prevent zinc deficiencies.
Another good thing

Vitamin E supplement ~ Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that exists in eight different forms. Each form has its own biological activity, which is the measure of potency or functional use in the body. Alpha-tocopherol (α-tocopherol) is the name of the most active form of vitamin E in humans. It is also a powerful biological antioxidant. Vitamin E in supplements is usually sold as alpha-tocopheryl acetate, a form of alpha-tocopherol that protects its ability to function as an antioxidant. The synthetic form is labeled "D, L" while the natural form is labeled "D". The synthetic form is only half as active as the natural form . Antioxidants such as vitamin E act to protect your cells against the effects of free radicals, which are potentially damaging by-products of energy metabolism. Free radicals can damage cells and may contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Studies are underway to determine whether vitamin E, through its ability to limit production of free radicals, might help prevent or delay the development of those chronic diseases. Vitamin E has also been shown to play a role in immune function, in DNA repair, and other metabolic processes.
I wouldn't want my pet to suffer from a lack of vitamin E!

ferrous sulfate ~ Ferrous sulfate provides the iron needed by the body to produce red blood cells. It is used to treat or prevent iron-deficiency anemia, a condition that occurs when the body has too few red blood cells because of pregnancy, poor diet, excess bleeding, or other medical problems.
No one wants an anemic pup!

manganese sulfate ~Lack of manganese in animals has been found to cause improper formation of bone and cartilage, may decrease the body's ability to use sugar properly, and may cause growth problems.
Well, that definitely makes it a good thing to find listed in the ingredients.

niacin ~ Niacin, also known as nicotinic acid or vitamin B3, is a water-soluble vitamin whose derivatives such as NADH, NAD, NAD+, and NADP play essential roles in energy metabolism in the living cell and DNA repair. The designation vitamin B3 also includes the corresponding amide nicotinamide, or niacinamide, whose chemical formula is C6H6N2O.

Vitamin A supplement ~ Vitamin A is commonly known as the anti-infective vitamin, because it is required for normal functioning of the immune system. The skin and mucosal cells (cells that line the airways, digestive tract, and urinary tract) function as a barrier and form the body's first line of defense against infection. Retinol and its metabolites are required to maintain the integrity and function of these cells. Vitamin A and retinoic acid (RA) play a central role in the development and differentiation of white blood cells, such as lymphocytes that play critical roles in the immune response. Activation of T-lymphocytes, the major regulatory cells of the immune system, appears to require all-trans RA binding of RAR.

calcium pantothenate ~ Vitamin B5 is also known as pantothenic acid or calcium pantothenate. This is a water soluble vitamin which is found in the cells. Vitamin B5 is produced in the intestines by bacteria and is known to place a role on preventing depression. Vitamin B5 is necessary for the release of energy from carbohydrates, the synthesis and degradation of fatty acids and other acetylation reactions.
This vitamin is also required for the production of steroid hormones, the adrenal glands’ production of hormones and nervous system function. Vitamin B5 is required to gain resistance to stress, shock and allergies, plus protection against radiation-caused cellular damage. Vitamin B5 has other uses including being required for carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism, cholesterol and fatty acids, skin health, and decreasing side effects of certain drugs.

copper sulfate ~Copper sulfate is a naturally-occurring inorganic salt and copper is an essential trace element in plant and animal nutrition.

thiamine mononitrate ~ thiamine /thi·a·mine/ (thi´ah-min) vitamin B1; a water-soluble component of the B vitamin complex, found particularly in pork, organ meats, legumes, nuts, and whole grain or enriched breads and cereals.
thi·a·mine (th-mn, -mn) or thi·a·min (-mn)
A vitamin of the vitamin B complex, found in meat, yeast, and the bran coat of grains, and necessary for carbohydrate metabolism and normal neural activity. Also called vitamin B1.

riboflavin supplement ~ Riboflavin is vitamin B2. Vitamins are naturally occurring substances necessary for many processes in the body. Riboflavin is important in the maintenance of many tissues of the body.

Vitamin B-12 supplement ~ Vitamin B12 is a member of the vitamin B complex. It contains cobalt, and so is also known as cobalamin. It is exclusively synthesised by bacteria and is found primarily in meat, eggs and dairy products. There has been considerable research into proposed plant sources of vitamin B12. Fermented soya products, seaweeds, and algae such as spirulina have all been suggested as containing significant B12. However, the present consensus is that any B12 present in plant foods is likely to be unavailable to humans and so these foods should not be relied upon as safe sources. Many vegan foods are supplemented with B12. Vitamin B12 is necessary for the synthesis of red blood cells, the maintenance of the nervous system, and growth and development in children. Deficiency can cause anaemia. Vitamin B12 neuropathy, involving the degeneration of nerve fibres and irreversible neurological damage, can also occur.

garlic oil ~ Vitamin B12 is a member of the vitamin B complex. It contains cobalt, and so is also known as cobalamin. It is exclusively synthesised by bacteria and is found primarily in meat, eggs and dairy products. There has been considerable research into proposed plant sources of vitamin B12. Fermented soya products, seaweeds, and algae such as spirulina have all been suggested as containing significant B12. However, the present consensus is that any B12 present in plant foods is likely to be unavailable to humans and so these foods should not be relied upon as safe sources. Many vegan foods are supplemented with B12. Vitamin B12 is necessary for the synthesis of red blood cells, the maintenance of the nervous system, and growth and development in children. Deficiency can cause anaemia. Vitamin B12 neuropathy, involving the degeneration of nerve fibres and irreversible neurological damage, can also occur.

pyridoxine hydrochloride ~ Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is an essential vitamin to aid in the formation of healthy red blood cells and supports more vital bodily functions than any other vitamin. A water-soluble vitamin, Vitamin B6 is needed to release energy from the food we eat. Since it cannot be stored in the body, it must be obtained daily from either food or supplements.

folic acid ~
Folic acid is a type of B vitamin. It is water-soluble, which means it cannot be stored in the body. Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water. Leftover amounts of the vitamin leave the body through the urine. That means you need a continuous supply of the vitamin in your diet.
Folic acid works along with vitamin B12 and vitamin C to help the body break down, use, and create new proteins. The vitamin helps form red blood cells and helps produce DNA, the building block of the human body, which carries genetic information.
Folic acid also helps tissues grow and cells work. Taking the right amount of folic acid before and during pregnancy helps prevent certain birth defects, including spina bifida.

Vitamin D-3 supplement ~ Cholecalciferol is vitamin D3. Vitamin D is important for the absorption of calcium from the stomach and for the functioning of calcium in the body.

calcium iodate ~ calcium iodate
Type: Term
Definitions:1. used as a dusting powder and, in lotion and ointment, as an antiseptic and deodorant.
SAY WHAT? This one will take some more research!
This is what I finally found
Uses : Nutritional source of iodine in foods and feedstuffs. More stable in table salts than iodides. To improve properties of yeast-leavened bakery products.
This makes me wonder why they don't just use iodized salt since they listed salt already as an ingredient.

biotin ~ Biotin is used in cell growth, the production of fatty acids, metabolism of fats, and amino acids. It plays a role in the Krebs Cycle, which is the process in which energy is released from food. Biotin not only assists in various metabolic chemical conversions, but also helps with the transfer of carbon dioxide. Biotin is also helpful in maintaining a steady blood sugar level. Biotin is often recommended for strengthening hair and nails. Consequently, it is found in many cosmetic and health products for the hair and skin.
Deficiency is extremely rare, as intestinal bacteria generally produce in excess of the body's daily requirement. For that reason, statutory agencies in many countries (e.g., the Australian Department of Health and Aging) do not prescribe a recommended daily intake.
While it may be normally produced in ample sufficeincy in a human diet I can understand the need to insure it's availability in a pet food.

menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity) This is the most confusing ingredient so far. According to the link above it is not only not a good source of Vitamin K but can actually interfere with vitamin k in the body. I will have to dig deeper into this and find out if the pet food company is right or if other scientific reports will confirm it to be an unnecessary and possibly harmful additive

sodium selenite ~From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sodium selenite, Na2SeO3, is a selenium compound. It is a source of selenium in many food supplements.
Sodium selenite is listed in the material safety data sheets from Environmental Health and Safety as a dangerous poison in large amounts, similar to arsenic, because the element selenium is poisonous in large amounts. It attacks sulfhydryl enzymes in people and animals.
Although selenium is poisonous, it should be noted that selenium is essential in small amounts. Humans and animals require selenium for the function of a number of selenium-dependent enzymes, also known as selenoproteins. For this reason, sodium selenite can be found as a listed ingredient in various foods such as dog biscuits.
Several sources give the same basic info on this so I believe it should be accurate.