Monday, September 13, 2010

Pet Foods - "Healthy" & "Natural"?

So one of the main reasons I started this blog is for my family; many of them do not have a facebook, nor will they get one.  This blog will expose them to the important issues that the Real Meaning of GREEN on facebook touches on.

For my first blog, in honor of my cat-loving (or maybe I should say cat-obsessive?) family, I decided that I wanted to write about the nutrition of pet food.  As I went shopping the other day for cat supplies, I was delighted to see an offering of “natural” cat food, “natural” cat treats and “natural” litter.  As I always preach on facebook, “Demand and they will Supply”, the prophecy was coming true in the grocery store!  Suppliers are hearing our demands for natural products with limited or no use of chemicals and other dangerous additives.

Yet, is this all just a marketing ploy to make us BELIEVE it is “natural”?  Well, I am going to analyze the products I purchased the other day that boasted “natural” against those that I usually buy.  Remember, one of Michael Pollan’s “Food Rules” is to “avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce.”  Our pets deserve the same standards.  

I have always fed my cats Iams, as it is boasted by many to be one of the "healthiest on the market", so let's see how it measures up.

Iams: Regular

  • Chicken
  • Chicken By-Product Meal
  • Corn Meal
  • Corn Grits
  • Dried Beet Pulp
  • Poultry By-Product Meal
  • Natural Flavor (um, which is what?)
  • Dried Egg Product
  • Brewers Dried Yeast
  • Sodium Bisulfate (acid salt, urine acidifier to reduce urinary stones in cats)
  • Potassium Chloride (used for making fertilizer, food processing: salt substitute)
  • Fructooligosaccharides (alternative sweetener, inulin-type prebiotics generally thought to stimulate the growth of Bifidobacteria “friendly bacteria” species)
  • Animal Fat
  • Fish Oil
  • DL-Methionine (amino acid, DL-methionine is the active ingredient in dog supplements to prevent yellow nitrogen burns to grass from their urine. The action is by reducing the pH of the dog's urine)
  • Choline Chloride (ammonium salt, accelerates growth in chickens
  • Calcium Carbonate (gastric antacid and calcium source)
  • Vitamins
  • Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (B6 source)
  • Vitamin B12 Supplement
  • Riboflavin Supplement (B2 source)
  • Inositol
  • Vitamin D3 Supplement
  • Minerals
  • Folic Acid

According to the website http://www.truthaboutpetfood.com/articles/how-to-understand-pet-food-label-ingredients-%E2%80%93-the-basics.html, “Chicken and Chicken Meal are meat ingredients providing a cat with essential meat protein. Chicken is obviously chicken meat; Chicken Meal is chicken meat with the moisture removed. Any meat contains a high amount of moisture, up to 70% moisture. Chicken Meal is chicken with the moisture removed and thus provides the dog or cat with more protein nutrition by weight. These are both quality ingredients.”

It continues, explaining that meat “by-products” are NOT meat.  According to the ingredient definition, they are left-over pieces of an animal not used for human consumption. Meat ingredients are optimal for your pet, left-over animal parts are not; this is another suggested ingredient to avoid. Meat and bone meal is another ingredient on the FDA list that can contain a euthanized diseased animal and the lethal drug used to kill the animal; a definite ingredient to avoid.

Brewers Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Ground Corn, are grains that provide little to no nutrition to a cat (or dog if this was a dog food). None are ‘bad’ pet food ingredients, that is, unless the corn gluten meal came from China. Seeing this ingredient means you need to call the manufacturer to learn the Country of Origin of the pet food ingredients. You should also be aware that any grain ingredient in pet food is at risk to contain a deadly mold, aflatoxin. Pet owners that feed their dog or cat a food that includes grains must trust that the manufacturer did proper testing for aflatoxin contamination of grains. Pet food regulations do not require this testing, it is only recommended.

The website explain that that the pet food ingredient “Animal Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols)” was determined by the FDA to be one of several ingredients that are commonly known to contain a diseased euthanized animal, AND the drug used to kill the animal. When you see Animal Fat listed in the ingredients of a dog food or cat food, unless you want to take the chance of feeding your pet a sick, euthanized animal, AND lethal drugs, look for another pet food.

Iams: All Natural  

Yellow = Same
Pink = NEW
Green = Taken Out

Chicken By-Product Meal
Corn Meal
Brewers Rice
Ground Whole Grain Barley
Chicken Meal
Corn Grits
Dried Beet Pulp
Poultry By-Product Meal
Dried Egg Product
Natural Flavor (um, which is what?)
Sodium Bisulfate
Potassium Chloride
Animal Fat
Fish Oil
Dried Apple Pomace
Dried Carrots
Brewers Dried Yeast
Dried Peas
Calcium Carbonate
Choline Chloride
Dried Spinach
Dried Tomatoes
Vitamine E Supplement
Pyridoxide Hydrochloride (B6)
Vitamin B12 Supplement
Riboflavin Supplement (B2 source)
Vitamin D3 Supplement
Folic Acid

Well, for Iams “Healthy Naturals” all they took out is “Corn Grits” and “Poultry By-Product Meal”.  Perhaps the corn contained dangerous bi-product chemicals such as aflatoxin, of which the dangers were stated above?  But why did they take out a protein source?  It is good that they added some whole grain and dried vegetables, however as cats are strictly carnivores I am not sure how much this helps them besides adding more natural vitamins and minerals (ones that should be there by a good, healthy variety of meat sources).  Yes this makes it appear that it contains more “natural” ingredients, but it all boils down to the fact that all of the same chemicals are still present. 

And the most shocking ingredient present in both is the Animal Fat, which “The Truth About Pet Food” explained contains diseased euthanized animal remains and the chemical used to put them down.  “Natural” or not, if the pet food contains the disgusting, dangerous “Animal Fat”, it is TIME FOR A CHANGE!!

Our pets are stricken with debilitating diseases just as we humans are, and just as I am convinced with humans, the ”bad” fuel we put into our bodies causes the majority of diseases.  Give your pets the same respect as you so your own body and give them the proper, healthy fuel.I am now in search for a different cat food and will post my findings soon!

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