Pet Food Main Ingredients: Knowing When To Stop

11 Aug 2012 | by | Posted in: Nutrition

In my first article, I shared information on whats in a commercial pet food label?  Well, that was the beginning. The pet food label can be quite a long text starting with sources of protein, carbs, fats, a list of vitamins & minerals and types of amino acids etc. Knowing when to STOP and flag the main ingredients can reveal the true identity of a product. You will be able to answer questions whether the food has a protein bias in comparison to carbs (btw a good thing) and whether the protein percentage is from an animal or plant source.

To be honest there are no set rules, some experts consider the first 5 and, a few others, the first 7 to be the major contributor. Main ingredients depend on the formula and the variety in inclusions. I have learnt from many hours reading internet food reviews that the main ingredients should be counted until the first fat source appears on the list say sunflower oil or fish oil or chicken fat. The meat, grains, fruits and vegetable, probiotics that follow are present in small quantities to enhance flavor, preserve and assist in the binding process of kibble. Not to say, they don’t have value but they are there only to complete nutrition value that may be deficient from the main ingredients.

Consider these examples

Brand X:  Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Oats, Chicken fat, fish, spinach, rosemary extract, linseed, beta- carotene, glucosamine, EPA, DHA, chicory root.

Brand Y: Chicken, Salmon, Brown Rice, Potatoes, Flaxseed, Millet, Fish Oil, seaweed extracts, zinc proteinate, manganese, parsley, chicken flavor enhancer, probiotics, probiotics, Vitamin C

In these examples, Brand X has five main ingredients while Brand Y in comparison has seven. Brand X also appears to have a protein bias and derives protein from animal sources. Brand Y on the other hand uses fresh chicken and salmon as its first two ingredients followed by 4 carbs and a fat (oil) is likely to have a carbohydrate bias and a likely heavy plant protein. This is because fresh chicken and salmon will possibly occupy a lower position in the ingredient list when the moisture content is removed in manufacturing.

Hope this article has further improved your understanding of pet food label and helps you to make an informed decision.

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A quick question - In brand x when you say 'Chicken' or 'salmon', since it has moisture in it, is that the reason it ranks lower than Brand Y which has chicken meal in it? I couldn't quite get that

By: Anand | 27 Aug 2012

Anand,Did you mean Brand Y ranks lower than Brand X that has chicken meal as its second ingredient. Firstly, without the manufacturer disclosing actually quantity of ingredients, there is no accurate way of quantifying the ingredients by weight. Ingredients on the label appear in descending order of weight before the cooking/extrusion procedure. So Fresh Chicken or Salmon has a moisture content of almost 70% and is carefully dried to reduce the moisture to 8 to 10% in the extruder. On the other hand chicken meal by definition is grounded chicken without its head, neck, feet, feather and entrails, with or without bone that has been dried to 10% moisture levels before entering the cooking process. So it is a more concentrated form of protein, e.g a 100lbs chicken meal is 65lbs chicken while fresh chicken is only about 18lbs. So for fresh animal protein sources to outweigh their meal protein sources, they would have to be included in almost triple the quantity which is quite unlikely . Having said all this, the method is only a best guesstimate. Hope this helps

By: PetFoodGuy | 28 Aug 2012

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