Pet Food Ingredient Comparison: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Pet Food Ingredient Comparison: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Many times I am questioned about our food selections and if they are “AAFCO” (Association of American Feed Control Control Official) approved. Pet food by-laws have a mysterious past and the regulating body can be rather general in ingredients that are allowed for our cats and dogs to eat. Cat and dog food ingredients and definitions can be grossly misunderstood.

Many times I am questioned about our food selections and if they are “AAFCO” (Association of American Feed Control Control Official) approved. Pet food by-laws have a mysterious past and the regulating body can be rather general in ingredients that are allowed for our cats and dogs to eat. Cat and dog food ingredients and definitions can be grossly misunderstood.

First, who is AAFCO? An organization that primarily sets standards thought the industry by a member-based organization that was formed in 1909 to prepare a uniform feed bill. They claim from the start that AAFCO was organized to work with the industry as a whole with their primary duty of protecting the customer. However, AAFCO is not the be-all and end-all to the regulations of pet food. Many of their definitions are very obtuse and not always in favor of the customer.

For starters, let’s look at the following AAFCO approved food:

Grocery Store Brand Kibbles and Bits – Labeled as “Chicken Flavored Dog Food”

Ingredients: Corn, soybean meal, beef and bone meal, ground wheat flour, animal fat (BHA used as preservative), corn syrup, wheat middlings, water sufficient for processing, animal digest (source of chicken flavor), propylene glycol, salt, hydrochloric acid, potassium chloride, caramel color, sorbic acid (used as a preservative), sodium carbonate, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, manganous oxide, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin A supplement, niacin supplement, D-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), choline chloride, calcium sulfate, titanium dioxide (color), yellow 5, yellow 6, red 40, BHA (used as a preservative), DL-methionine.

There are many reasons to avoid low-end foods and why I’d consider the above food at a 1-star rating. The first five ingredients make up a large portion of the entire food. AAFCO states in Regulation PF5 that ingredients shall be listed in descending order by their predominance by weight in non-quantitative terms. When looking at Grocery Store Brand X, we have corn and soybean meal as the first two ingredients noting that they will make up a majority of the formula. Corn and soybeans are a very inexpensive fillers and ingredients that can most often be retained as a by-product from human manufacturing plants. When looking for the definition of corn, we have several options of how the corn was put into this product. The definition of “Corn” could be the entire ear of corn with or without the husks.

Soybean meal is obtained by grinding the flakes remaining after removal of most of the oil from de-hulled soybeans by a solvent extraction process. If a solvent is used for this process it does not have to be listed in the ingredients, leaving one more way for a chemical to be introduced into our pet foods without our knowledge.

We can go even a step further with the corn and soybean meal. According to gmo-compass.com, as of 2007 88% of the United States soybeans crops are genetically modified with 90% of the corn crops being altered with the pesticide substance Round-Up. Jeffrey Smith, Author of Seeds of Deception has many animal studies showing that small animals, farm animals and rodents (as well as humans) are very unhealthy and have many unexplained ailments when consuming GMO feed.

This food is also very high in carbohydrates at about 43%. If you have a dog that is overweight or having digestive issues, this food will only hinder, not help with these problems. High carbohydrate foods can also be taxing on the organ systems throughout the digestive process.

What I found most interesting about the Grocery Store Brand of dog food that was labeled as “Chicken Flavor” had absolutely no chicken in it other than the “animal digest” which in accordance to AAFCO is a material which results from chemical and/or enzymatic hydrolysis of clean and undecomposed animal tissue but no specific to a particular protein. Therefore, when reading the ingredient panel it may be safe to assume that the “Chicken Flavored” food may not have any chicken at all!

Moving on to Independent Brand Akana Wild Prairie – Chicken Formula.

Deboned chicken, chicken meal, green peas, turkey meal, chicken liver oil, field beans, red lentils, whole potato, deboned turkey, whole egg, deboned walleye, sun-cured alfalfa, pea fiber, chicken liver, herring oil, whole apples, whole pears, sweet potato, pumpkin, butternut squash, parsnips, carrots, spinach greens, cranberries, blueberries, kelp, chicory root, juniper berries, angelica root, marigold flowers, sweet fennel, peppermint leaf, lavender, rosemary.Vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, niacin, riboflavin, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, selenium yeast, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product.

Looking at the Independent Brand of dog food, you can see in the ingredients are wholesome, natural ingredients in the listing. With this particular food the meat content is a good portion of the formula with the first few ingredients of deboned chicken and chicken meal making up over 37% of the formula. Turkey meal and deboned turkey making up another 8% of the formula with egg, and fish making up another 10-12%. Therefore, once most of the math is computed, this product has about 29% carbohydrates showing that the pea, potatoes, fruits and vegetables make up a much lower percentage than the percentage of protein. Even the vitamin and minerals are very minimal but enough to make the food complete.

This is a much better choice at a 4 out of 5 star rating because you are actually paying for what you expect and feeding a higher quality, nutrient dense food. The only reason I didn’t give this food 5 stars is because I feel 5 star ratings should be saved for raw diets. Not all raw diets are 5 star ratings but we will discuss the difference of raw diets in a future post.

In conclusion of diet comparison, we need to start with reading the ingredient panels. With so many of our cats and dogs having wheat, corn and soy allergens is should be very apparent why this brand of food would be a poor choice (shown in Grocery Store Brand X food). Our domesticated animals do not fare well on a diet full of carbohydrates, especially of the kind that are genetically modified that the digestive system doesn’t fully recognize as food.

This is about the time you should have a realization that quality is often better than quantity. The few extra dollars spent on dog or cat food will go a long way when promoting the health of your pet. It should be a no-brainer when reading the ingredient panel that you are the provider of health and longevity to your furry best friend by choosing a premium food. If there are ingredients that you can’t pronounce or you wouldn’t eat yourself, then why would it be a wise choice to feed to your pet?

 

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