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Posted by  on October 31, 2013 at 9:45 am

This is the fourth installment of pet food ingredient definitions.  In this segment vegetable and fruit proteins, fibers, flours, carrageenan and canola are discussed.

Vegetable and Fruit Pet Food Ingredients
There are many vegetables and fruits that are included into pet foods.  If the ingredient (vegetable and fruit) is listed with its common name (such as sweet potato), you can safely assume the pet food vegetable or fruit is defined the same as with human food.  In other words, a ‘sweet potato’ ingredient listed on a pet food label is defined the same as a ‘sweet potato’ in your grocery store.  That said, the difference in pet food is any vegetable or fruit listed on a label could be sourced from spoiled, damaged, or even contaminated (such as with pesticides) vegetables and fruits that cannot be sold as human food.

Vegetables and Fruits would be quality ingredients if they are human grade such as restaurant grade.

Question to ask the pet food manufacturer about vegetable and fruit ingredients…
1.  Are the vegetable and fruit ingredients human grade – such as restaurant grade?

Vegetable and Fruit Ingredients Continued
If the vegetable and/or fruit ingredient is not listed on the pet food label as the common known name (such as potato), the definition can be different.

Such as Vegetable (Potato) Protein or Vegetable (Potato) Flour or Vegetable (Pea) Fiber.

Vegetable Protein Ingredients
The only AAFCO defined ‘protein’ vegetable ingredient is Potato Protein – which is defined as “derived from de-starched potato juice” and then dehydrated.

Not all vegetable protein ingredients are defined by AAFCO.  The most commonly used vegetable protein pet food ingredient that has no definition is pea protein.  With no official definition of pea protein, the consumer has no guarantee (or understanding) what this ingredient actually consists of.

It is questionable that vegetable proteins provide pets with any quality nutrition.

Vegetable Flour Ingredients
There are numerous vegetable flour ingredients used in pet foods.  Basically any vegetable flour ingredient would be a dried product or part of that product ground to a fine powder.

It is questionable that vegetable flour ingredients provide pets with any quality nutrition.

Vegetable Fiber Ingredients
The most commonly used vegetable fiber ingredient is pea fiber – which again is an ingredient that has no official AAFCO definition, if regulations were enforced would not be allowed, and the consumer has no guarantee or understanding what this ingredient consists of.

Fiber ingredients are defined by AAFCO as a “plant carbohydrate that resist digestion hydrolysis.”

Fiber ingredients are necessary in pet foods, quality fiber ingredients would be those of the same quality as human foods.

Canola Oil
Canola Oil falls under the AAFCO definition of vegetable oil and would be similar to the human version of vegetable oils.

Canola oil comes with some risks.  “Some studies in humans have associated intake of canola oil with cardiac fatty infiltration.  And “These results indicate that promotion of hypertension-related deterioration in organs is likely to have relevance to the short life span in the canola oil group.”

While pets do need fat in their diets, it is questionable that a fat sourced from canola oil is quality.

To learn  more about Canola Oil, click here.

AAFCO refers to carrageenan as an “emulsifier, stabilizer or thickener for pet foods” and states it only be sourced from “red seaweed sources”.  Carrageenan is only found in canned pet foods.  It provides no nutritional benefit to the pet, again – is only used to thicken canned foods to form a loaf type consistency.  Since most canned foods consist of 70% or greater moisture, if that loaf type consistency is desired by the manufacturer (versus a gravy type pet food), carrageenan is the ingredient commonly used to achieve that.

Carrageenan comes with risks.  Most in industry that defends the use of carrageenan state that the non-human food version of carrageenan (degraded carrageenan) is the only risk.  But science has shown that undegraded carrageenan is linked to cancer and intestinal inflammation.

Carrageenan is not a necessary ingredient and is associated with too many risks to be considered a quality ingredient.

To learn more about Carrageenan, click here and here.

To read more on ingredient definitions…

Part 1 Click Here

Part 2 Click Here

Part 3 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