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Learn the Truth about Pet Food Ingredients – Part 3

Read the original article at Truth About Pet Food.

Posted by  on June 10, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Here is the third installment of our on-going project pet food ingredient definitions in consumer language.

To read more ingredient definitions, Click Here for Part 1, Click Here for Part 2.

Fish Meal.  The AAFCO official definition of fish meal states ground tissues of whole fish or fish parts (left over from filleting of fish); the definition does not state if bone is included however we can safely assume it is.  If the meal consists of one variety of fish (such as herring meal), the pet food label must state this.  If not, the label would state the generic ‘fish meal’ ingredient on the label.  This ingredient may or may not include healthy oils from the fish.

One significant concern with fish meal is the preservative used (often referred to as ‘antioxidant’ in pet food).  A common fish meal preservative is ethoxyquin – a chemical linked to serious illness.  Some fish meal ingredient suppliers have chosen to use safer preservatives with the fish meal such a mixed tocopherols or Naturox.

Note:  if an ingredient supplier adds a preservative to an ingredient, it is not required to be stated on the pet food label by the pet food manufacturer.  As example fish meal.  If the fish meal supplier adds the risky preservative ethoxyquin, a pet food manufacturer is not required to state this on the label.  The consumer would have no warning a risky chemical was added to the pet food.

Fish meal would be a quality ingredient ONLY if a natural preservative is used.  Fish meal would be a risk ingredient if ethoxyquin is used.  Optimal fish meal would include the natural oils from the fish.

Question to ask the pet food manufacturer about fish meal ingredients…
1.  What is the preservative used on the fish meal ingredient – the preservative added by your supplier of the ingredient?

Egg Product.  AAFCO states egg product is a dehydrated, liquid or frozen egg; it does not include shell.  Eggs sourced for the pet food ingredient ‘egg product’ can be from broken or damaged eggs not suitable for use in human foods.  There is no qualification in this ingredient definition requiring the eggs to be USDA inspected and approved.

Egg Product would be a quality ingredient if sourced from human grade eggs.

Question to ask the pet food manufacturer about egg product ingredient…

1.  Are the eggs used in the egg product ingredient approved for human food or are the eggs sourced from damaged, broken eggs?

Enterococcus Faecieum, Lactobacillus Casei, Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Saccharomyces Cerevesiae Fermentation Solubles, Dried Aspergillus Oryzae Fermentation Extract and similar.  These very scientific sounding pet food ingredients are probiotics, known as friendly bacteria.  Probiotics help keep your pet’s intestinal system working optimally which is key due to a major portion of the immune system located in the ‘gut’.  Keeping your pet’s gut healthy helps build a strong immune system.

As with many pet food ingredients, probiotics can turn from a quality ingredient to a less than quality ingredient if the bacteria is not live and viable.  Pet food consumers have two options to learn if the probiotics listed in the ingredients are a quality ingredient…

1.  Look in the Guaranteed Analysis statement on the pet food label.  If guarantee of “probiotics” or “micro-organisms” is listed, the consumer has the company word the live probiotics exists in the pet food.

2.  Call the pet food manufacturer and ask “Do you guarantee the probiotics are live and viable?”

Menadione Sodium Bisulfate.  Menadione Sodium Bisulfate is a synthetic Vitamin K and a root of a great deal of controversy.  Vitamin K is a required nutrient for cats and dogs, however pet food regulations do not specify the source (food sourced K or synthetic K) of the nutrition.  That is with the exception of fish based cat foods; regulations require Menadione Sodium Bisulfate (and only Menadione Sodium Bisulfate) to be the vitamin K source in fish based cat foods.

The controversy with Menadione Sodium Bisulfate is to its safety.  Some insist the ingredient is proven safe citing evidence from years of use in pet foods.  Others question the safety of the ingredient citing opposing science (to ingredient safety).  The Material Safety Data Sheet for Menadione Sodium Bisulfate states information is “Not available” as to the toxicity risk to animals.  The Material Safety Data Sheet does not specify “safe for animals” – it says toxicity risk to animals is not available.  Thus the controversy.

For more information on Menadione Sodium Bisulfate, click here.

Selenium Yeast, Sodium Selenite.  Two pet food ingredients providing the same required nutrient to pet food – selenium.  Sodium selenite differs from selenium yeast in that should human error occur (addition of higher than accepted levels into the pet food), sodium selenite could kill pets.  FDA has not approved the safer selenium yeast for use in cat foods.  Months ago FDA informed us they are waiting for pet food manufacturers to apply for approval of selenium yeast in cat foods.

For more information on Sodium Selenite/Selenium Yeast Click Here.


Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Association for Truth in Pet Food
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible