|(Disclosure: Davyd is an owner of PeopleFüd, a pet food manufacturer)The recalls have been all the chatter on sites for the past few weeks. We can’t cover everything in detail, but feel free to comment or check out the links I put at the end for you to research more on your own.
I appreciate the coverage and I must say it is bringing to light the problems inherent with large producers of any type of food. The enormity of scale in the food production industry provides two conflicting outcomes:
2012 Food Recalls
The short story is when companies concentrate on the bottom line; they are looking for ways to take the economies of scale to produce a cheaper product for the highest profit. This is standard for companies and a problem for consumers. Although companies are not in the business to create inferior products by design, there is a clear indication, in pet food manufacturing, that the least common denominator is creating a repeatable offense by manufacturing.
Menu Foods took the hit last time. But did it really make any difference. The same processes, the same recipes and most likely many of the same ingredient suppliers are still in place. It is just being put together at different facilities.
This last run of product to get recalled to date include:
* Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul – All Skus
* Country Value – All Skus
* Diamond – All Skus
* Diamond Naturals – All Skus
* Premium Edge – All Skus
* Professional – All Skus
* Taste of the Wild – All Skus
See the latest at www.truthaboutpetfood.com
This is an interesting list. From a rating perspective, some of these are considered good foods. And maybe they are, but it calls into question what ingredients are shared, and what processes are shared. It is perfectly legal in the food industry to take the exact same product and brand it multiple ways (and charge differently for it).
So what is a person to do to protect their pets?
There are multiple different approaches, and the single answer is you will need to take some time to strengthen the safety of your pet’s food. You can do one of several things.
First, you can consider adding real food to your pet’s diet.
Many people have been convinced by large pet food companies that they have no ability to know what a pet should eat. I would argue this point with a simple fact.
Cats and dogs have eaten both on their own and with their human companions for thousands of years.
Many of our grandparents would laugh if we said you should not give a dog any of your “people food”. What do we think pet food should be made of? Is there some other type of food besides people food? Cats simply need meat. They are true carnivores. Dogs are facultative carnivores that should have meat in their diet, but are capable of eating so many foods common to the human diet.
Although there is a small list of dangerous ingredients and a longer list of inferior ingredients, dogs can eat 99% of what humans eat and have for more than ten thousand years. The common use of dog food is less than 100 years old.
Think of it this way if you are a parent or had one. Every morning, do parents pull out a list of ingredients, perfectly balanced, weighed, supplemented with a broad range of vitamins and minerals and produce a perfectly “complete and balanced” meal each meal, every day for their children. And is it one recipe?
No, we look at the food we have, and hopefully it contains a variety fresh vegetables, fruit, grains and meat, and put them together in a recipe we know and vary and do it again for lunch and dinner with something completely different. When did pets become so regimental about their diet? They didn’t, we have been talked into this.
You cat and dog can eat food. There are a number of books out there to help you create nutritional food for your pets if you want to take the time. Or you can just supplement with real food, varying the ingredients, and you will server your pet better than feeding them a single recipe commercial dog food breakfast lunch and dinner every day for the rest of their life.
So this will take time out of your day to prepare food for your pets, but it is probably the single best thing you can do. That said, this will be too difficult for people.
So the second way to improve your pet’s diet through produced prodcuts.
Do you research.
I will start you out with the best food in most pet stores is found in the frozen section. The reason this food is frozen is because it will go bad if it is not. Food going bad is a good indication it is a good ingredient. Did you catch that? Food goes bad. Food-like substances don’t necessarily do that. If it says not to leave it out on the counter for months, it is probably food, and probably better for you pet. [Note: The author owns a pet food company that produces frozen food].
Third way to improve your pet’s nutrition is to make sure you include wet food in the diet. Now the last two suggestions are wet foods, but short of this level of quantity, buy cans. You still want to know the companies, but at this point if you make sure you switch recipes and brands you are probably not over feeding a product that may be recalled every day. It is better to think we fed five different brands in the past month and one gets recalled than to have been feeding that one brand and your pet has not eaten tainted food every day with no relief.
The last way to improve your pet’s diet is through improving and varying only dry food.
But before that, we need to look at why dry food exists. Dry food was simply the culmination of convenience and storage. It never was very popular until around World War II. Up until that time, cans were the standard. But with the advent of the war and the need for metals, rationing came into place and the government strictly limited the use of canning for non-essential reasons. Pet food was not an essential reason at the time of a war. So dry kibble products became popular as a result of the metal shortage in the 1940s.
If you think about a cat or dog eating in the wild, the last thing they would be eating would resemble the most common pet food today. Dry, cereal-like foods are virtually non-existent naturally and would not be something your pet would ever look for.
If you still insist on dry food because of convenience, then at least switch it regularly. There is a myth that you should never change your pet’s food. There are the stories that pet’s digestion will go haywire with a change in their diet. Let me explain why this happens.
Imagine you had a perfectly healthy balance meal you created for yourself containing chicken, rice and broccoli. In the right proportion and cooked a certain way, this is now what you eat. Your diet will consist of exactly the same recipe, ingredients and proportion for breakfast lunch and dinner for six months.
At the end of six months, you switch to a perfectly balanced meal of Steak, mash potatoes and Brussels sprouts. What do you think will happen to your body and digestive processes? You will spend a lot of time sitting in a room by yourself.
So switch your pet’s food regularly. You can have a staple food if you really like it and trust the manufacturer. But you should still keep switching protein sources and other ingredients as often as is possible. This helps you get closer to “complete and balanced“ than you will ever get from a single recipe.
Lastly, here are a couple of lists to help keep an eye on the industry:
If you want to make your own pet food
If you want to see what happens in the pet food industry: