Why is This Dry Dog Food Label so Hilarious?!
A great pic was doing the rounds the other day. It was held up as an example of how manufacturers will try and jam as many cool buzz words on to their dry food product as possible, bamboozling the owner into believing this might actually be as good as a fresh food diet.
It reminded me of a pic that did the rounds a few years ago “vegetarian ham – chicken flavour!”.
It’s fair to say most on Judith page are fairly clued in as to what constitutes a good dog diet, and that is one based on fresh meat ingredients. So why do those in the know, nutritionally speaking, find such pet food labels hilarious?
Meat Meal is Poor Quality Protein…
Well, let’s dissect the terms used on the label. Under their perfectly acceptable brand name Stella and Chewy their slogan is “only the good stuff”. Naturally, we go straight to the ingredients to see what these ingredients might be. This is their whitefish recipe. The first ingredient used is “whitefish”. This is pretty good, in that some part of the whitefish (just the frames?) went into the original mix in whole, raw form. Where this white fish came from is anyone’s guess but that it went in raw before being cooked is a good thing.
It’s the same with their beef recipe who’s first ingredient is listed as “beef”. Good. Unless it’s just beef udders. Which it is permitted to be.
This is heartening.
However, considering the sheer volume of ingredients used in the product, this could be as little as 5% whitefish. The rest of the fish protein in this product comes in the form of “salmon meal” and “white fish meal”. This is a junk protein flour that arises as a byproduct from the rendering of assumedly farmed salmon. Great quantities of left over salmon pieces are stewed under pressure and high temperatures. The protein portion of the mix sinks to the bottom which they remove later as a grey goo. This is dried again at temperature and send to the pet food companies to be used as a protein source. Meat meal would be considered very antigenic to the body. In other words, liable to induce an immune response.
It is the same with the Stella & Chewy beef product which uses lamb meal, pork meal and salmon meal to bloster it’s protein offerings.
You are strongly advised to avoid meat meals. They are the bottom of the barrel nutritionally speaking. A twice cooked, deformed, antigenic byproduct of the meat rendering industry.
This lays waste to the cool term they have on the bottom right of the product “protein focused nutrition”. For sure, there is more protein in this product than the cereal-based muck advocated by your vet, but it’s a touch disingenuous to suggest it was anything to do with protein quality.
Freeze Dried and Cooked?!
They use the term “freeze dried” in big letters (a process whereby you freeze the material and then reducing the surrounding pressure to allow the frozen water in the material to come our in gas form – no water, no baddies can grow). It is hoped this method of preservation is a touch better than cooking for a variety of reasons. First off, it is said the flavours and smells generally remain unchanged in freeze dried material. Also, as only moderate cooking temperatures are known to deform meat proteins, making them antigenic to the body, as well as destroying heat liable vitamins and enzymes in the ingredients themselves, the lack of heat used is expected to preserve the nutritional content of the food.
However, we then see further down the label that the product is in fact “oven baked”, as opposed to being cooked on an open fire out the back of “moma’s” house, presumedly.
Raw Coated and Cooked?!
Then of course, best till last, “raw coated kibble”. The kibble product was dusted with freeze dried meat powder, which was then cooked. The exact opposite of raw.
What About Value for Money?!
This sort of thing gives those in the know a good titter but it’s important to conclude here that this dry food product would be considered many streets ahead of the cereal-based crap sold in our vets. It’s not even in the same neighbourhood. Stella & Chewys gets 4.5 stars out of 5 on the dry food advisor site Dogfoodadvisor, largely as it does not contain a load of cereal (good), has lots of protein (good-ish, as lots of bad protein can be just as bad as too little) and contains loads of “cool”, organic extras, which in my opinion is just window dressing, but each to their own. Also, they have a range of products with some doing better than others.
However, the bottom line for anyone considering such a route to feeding their dog, is value for money. These high meat (of unknown quality) dry foods are always extremely expensive. A 3.5lb bag of Stella & Chewys “raw – coated” stuff costs $23. In otherwords, €12.52 per kilo!!! Why would you spend so much good money on what is a product that you wouldn’t feed to the mother in law?! For a third of that price you could make your own fresh dog food.
Or you could buy a premade raw dog food product. These have the following benefits:
- they cost half of what you would spend on the above meat-based dry food products
- raw dog foods are made with REAL meat, you can see it, touch it and smell it
- they are usually made locally with meat from your country which, if European, is of considerably higher welfare than the beef coming out of the CAFO’s in the US
- they are nutritionally incomparable, fresh (from frozen) food would be considered many miles ahead of dry food, regardless of brand. You simply cannot replace fresh protein, vitamins and fats.
- you are keeping your money in your country, benefiting jobs, not some far away shareholder
- you have better control over what goes in your dog