Articles by Greg Aldrich, PhD

PCB and dioxin: side effects of our industrialized world

A recent incident in Germany reminds us that these contaminants have the potential to enter our raw material stream
This column is usually reserved for a review of the various features of a specific ingredient used in petfoods. But this issue, the focus is on a class of contaminants that periodically find their way into food and feed for humans and animals. 
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Potassium chloride: popular potassium source for petfoods

Potassium chloride is nutritionally effective, reasonably priced and readily available
When balancing the macro-mineral portion of a petfood, calcium and phosphorus are usually the first priority, magnesium seldom requires adjustment, and sodium and chloride, if inadequate, are easily met with a pinch of salt (sodium chloride). All that remains is potassium.
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Pea fiber: a functional petfood ingredient

With a label-friendly name, pea fiber offers an effective, reasonable alternative fiber source for companion animal diets
Pea fiber can be found in an increasing number of petfoods, especially in the premium, holistic and alternative format products. This ingredient is relatively new to petfoods and may be a strategic addition to counteract a growing consumer discontent with beet pulp and an absolute resistance to any of the functional fibers derived from wheat (e.g., bran), corn (corn bran) or soy (soyhulls)—all commonly perceived as cheap fillers. While this impression about the functional utility of these standard fibers is a long way from the truth, it certainly underscores that consumer perception rules the day.
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Why is rye rarely used in petfood?

There are no substantial technical, nutritional or performance issues associated with rye that would limit its use for pets
Rye is a fairly common ingredient in human foods and beverages. The most prevalent occurrence is in crackers and breads. Be it a light American rye, a dark German rye, heavy whole-grain pumpernickel rye or a slightly bitter rye with caraway, rye gets its share of notoriety in baked goods.
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Calcium carbonate: safe, effective, economical for pet diets

This is the ingredient most often used for vital calcium fortification.
Calcium is a vital nutrient for growth and sustained pet health. It is a principal structural component of bone and teeth, facilitates blood clotting binding-proteins, serves as a key conductor of nerve signals, initiates muscle contractions, activates select physiological enzymes and buffers pH changes.
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Is L-carnitine beneficial in ‘diet’ petfoods?

Home feeding studies would help determine if this ingredient is a practical tool for combating pet obesity
L-carnitine is a supplemental amino acid (ingredient) commonly found in low-fat, “light” or so-called diet foods for both dogs and cats. For the most part, the body produces an adequate amount of carnitine (L-isomer metabolite) to fulfill its role in the conversion of fatty acids into usable energy.
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Rosemary extract acts as natural antioxidant

This common ingredient is most effective in dry petfoods that use high levels of polyunsaturated fats and marine oils.
  Rosemary extract is a common ingredient found on dry petfood labels, typically at or near the bottom of the ingredient listing. While rosemary extract is generally viewed with favor by pet owners, it doesn’t provide nutritional fortification, it doesn’t provide medicinal support for any specific ailment, nor does it enhance the taste appeal of the food (for pets).
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Citric acid suffers from misperceptions and misplaced blame

Internet claims have led some pet owners to doubt the safety and utility of this natural functional ingredient
In petfood, citric acid is a common additive used mostly in the fat preservative (antioxidant) system. Food and nutrition experts consider this ingredient a natural functional compound, which, at its worst, is benign to pet health and wellness. However, increasingly pervasive internet claims have led some pet owners to doubt its safety and utility.
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Vitamin A – a balancing act

Supplementation of this essential vitamin requires ensuring enough, but not too much, is in the diet the day it is eaten
In an age of extremes and absolutes, vitamin A serves as a potent example of the necessity of balance in diet and nutrition. This is an important vitamin that has a direct effect on vision, the endocrine system in many ways and gene expression modulation.
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Protein from potatoes?

Potato protein has features that make it a viable candidate for petfood applications
The terms potato and protein don't often come up in the same sentence--probably because we think of potatoes solely as a starch source. But in our ever-expanding search for useful ingredients in the petfood industry, potato protein, a concentrated extract from the potato tuber, has turned up in several specialty petfoods in the last couple of years.
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