Keeping dogs out of vets since 2011

Some points on two recent raw dog food recalls…

Some points on two recent raw dog food recalls and how they compare to dry pet food recalls…

There has been a variety of raw dog food recalls in the past. In 2011, one of Australia’s biggest raw dog food producers, V.I.P. PetFood, was caught using dangerously high amounts of sulfur dioxide in their products, 435 times the level claimed on the packet. Used as a preservative, most often of dried fruits and processed meats, the high inclusion rate here would not only harm from a sulfur content point of view but would also destroy the vitamin B (thiamine) in their food, which is going to catch up with and certainly harm your dog over time.

44667488 2145700438826654 121256328449490944 n

Why include so much preservative? Well, and this is just my opinion and not necessarily this case, you might use a lot more preservative if your ingredients were harbouring a lot of baddies. The fact remains, our meat factories are churning out meats with questionable bacterial readings all the time. Around 5% of chicken on UK shelves harbours Salmonella. If you are grinding meat up from these factories you need to be extra vigilant of the ingredients coming in. It’s exhausting. The bigger producers can say “if we detect you pay for it” but this option is rarely available to the smaller guys, they simply won’t deal with you. So detecting baddies is not only costly to patrol but extremely costly to dump or, worst still, recall, which is a common occurrence in the meat sector. Hence, some companies might be tempted to turn a blind eye.

Thankfully, many of the top companies are rigorously testing both their ingredients and finished product for bacterial contamination but still it going to happen. Just last week, there was a pretty major recall by the Raw Factory in Scotland for possible Salmonella in tripe and / or pork based products.

Nor are these guys alone. It’s fair to say the dry food world is obsessed with pushing the “hazardous microbiology” point home to clients thinking about raw dog food. As the dry food companies are also our pet food regulators, it means regulation is coming down hard on raw dog food companies and of late the sector has seen a steep rise in recalls. The piece below is taken from the Pet Food Industry online magazine (the mouthpiece of the dry food sector). I put the word sadly in brackets myself, for effect!

Sadly, there have been a rash of pet food recalls in the US recently, and it’s probably not lost on anyone that, aside from J.M. Smucker’s Gravy Train dog food, most of the products recalled have been raw pet foods. This is certainly not a new phenomenon; it’s happened in previous years since the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law in 2011, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made no secret of its view on the safety of raw pet foods, issuing several documents and warning statements over the years.

This means raw companies really need to be on their toes, which is good news for all of us. This is just what I’m hearing and seeing. Of course, this approach conveniently takes the attention away from their own products of choice which independent analysis clearly shows is positively riddled with hazardous microbiology too, but who wants to bring balance and common sense into the debate?!

There are two ways to look at recalls, and it’s the same with how we view the horse meat scandal in the Europe meat chain some years ago. First noticed in Ireland, folk in the know knew it was endemic in all countries but Ireland got it in the neck for some time before other countries too began running their own tests. All sorts of meats and fillers were being used in all sorts of products. When a pet food is recalled voluntarily, that’s generally a good thing. You’d like to think their practices detected an issue and they immediately held their hand up, which is scary as it’s so damaging to the business from a perception point of view. It’s worse when they’re made do it, why didn’t they detect the issue?! So I for one, am not surprised it happens, as, again, the meat chain suffers a small percentage of nasties. Poo happens.

What’s interesting is the difference between raw and dry food recalls though is that when raw is recalled you are talking a tonne or two. When dry is recalled, you are talking millions on tonnes. Check out this fantastic article by Susan Thixton that clearly highlights this point.

Hence, when you’re putting out millions of tonnes, it’s significantly less acceptable that you somehow missed an issue.

At any rate, there are a few ways a dodgy raw producer might get his bacterial content down, many of which are legal. There is the sulfur dioxide method as above (illegal) but there is also a “natural” preservative which kills bacteria out there that is NOT REQUIRED to be on the label of the product (legal). The name eludes me at the mo but the fact remain, when you chemical preserve you surely and immediately exit the “raw dog food” circle. You do not want anti-life hitting the guts of your dog (guts that house beneficial bacteria). The new one I’m hearing about it adjusting the pH of the product to kill the bacteria (also legal). Then your dog lives on this new acidic diet each day, to what end is unknown. There is also pasteurisation and high pressure but as this changes the structure and look of the products they invariably have to tell you they denatured it on the label. And these are just the ones I know, I’m sure there are many more tricks.

If you want to check if your product has been treated, your best line of defence is your nose. Stick your nose in to your meat product of choice, you will always smell the inclusions they use. It will smell unnatural. Meat should smell of meat, and that’s all.

So please use this as a reminder guys. Just because raw producers are on the right side of the nutritional debate doesn’t make them angels. There are a huge amount of raw licenses out there, some held by well-meaning doggie folk, no doubt, others held by solicitors, farmers, bankers, shareholders, folk that are most certainly in it for the money. There are two ways to make money when selling food products – sell more or make it cheaper. Sadly, too many companies repeatedly demonstrate they will quickly and happily resort to the latter.

Share This Article

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
WhatsApp
Email

Categories

Need Advice?

1-to-1 Online Consultations

Should you need a little hand holding, I’m here to help. Consultations are typically 1 hour in length: 15 minutes to read your presubmitted questionnaire and prepare for your pet, 30-40 minutes with you directly via Zoom / Skype and 10-15 minutes to write your summary email, including all necessary tips and their diet plan. It also includes a follow up email should you need it.

MY BEST SELLER

5/5
"Finally! A well-written, well-referenced thorough examination of the raw dog food debate. A fantastic gift for your favourite veterinarian."
Dr. Karen Becker

Subscribe

For the most up-to-date advice, support, tips and ticks from Dr. Brady and his team, please subscribe below .

Related Articles

Meal volume may cause bloat in dogs
Raw dog food

The Best Diet for Dogs with Kidney Disease – Go Fresh, Go Natural!

If you have read the first three parts of our articles on kidney failure in dogs, you will understand the kidney’s role in the body and what happens when they stop functioning. Part two details the top foods that cause kidney failure in dogs. Article three explains how low-protein dog food would almost certainly not

Read More »
Fresh, good-quality protein for dogs with kidney disease
Raw dog food

Kidney failure in dogs – Could dry food be fuelling this disease?

In veterinary circles, the jury is still out on why so many pets today are suffering from kidney disease. Cats are twice as likely to get kidney disease than dogs (Veterinary Medical Database, University of Purdue) which largely rules out a genetic cause.  If genetics were solely to blame, then dogs should suffer more than

Read More »
Itchy dog DF dog
Raw dog food

Allergies in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & Remedies

Allergies in dogs is a big subject, and what’s more, the list of dog allergy symptoms can make you dizzy. Unfortunately, this can make the whole matter very confusing…in someone else’s hands! We at Dogs First are the dog allergy specialists, and below, in the most popular and most visited article on the site, we

Read More »
Turmeric for dogs
Dog Health

Turmeric For Dogs – Natures Most Powerful Anti-Inflammatory

The amount of info about turmeric for dogs is incredible. Unlike most herbal remedies, turmeric has a vast amount of high-quality scientific and clinical studies supporting it and testifying to its incredible anti-inflammatory properties.  The primary pharmacological bit in turmeric is called curcumin (that’s the deep orange colour). Clinical research has shown that curcumin is

Read More »