The hunt continues for alternative ingredients to fuel the ever-increasing demand for new and different products to entice the discerning pet owner. Whether to fill the void after we dodge the negative perceptions of corn, soy, wheat, beef and by-products or as a matter of satisfying the burgeoning array of “limited ingredient” and “no grain” diet choices, finding the perfect new and different ingredient is always a challenge—especially when dietary protein levels are edging upward, perceived overages in minerals have been tightened and the availability of process functionality has declined.
With the advent of the Food Safety Modernization Act, manufacturers of extruded and baked petfood and pet treats feel like they have their necks under a knife’s edge. To some, that may seem overly dramatic, especially given the blade at their neck is held by the smallest of creatures: Salmonella.
Betaine has become more common in pet diets in the last decade as natural and unique ingredients have become the driving force behind new petfoods. Betaine is a nearly pure chemical nutrient that hails from natural origins, and it certainly isn’t mainstream.
In the world of petfood manufacturing, some ingredients are used that are not nutritional, by intent. Rather, their purpose is to enhance the nutritional value, flavor or stability of the food. Sodium bisulfate is just such a functional food additive that one might find in petfoods, especially cat diets.
Olive oil, and especially extra virgin olive oil, is all the rage on cooking shows and at finer dining establishments these days. It seems that good news regarding the benefits of olive oil for our health and wellness emerges almost daily. So it stands to reason that people would want to explore this ingredient for use in pet diets.
Thermal processing—also known as cooking—of petfoods provides a number of benefits, including convenience, enhanced flavor and texture, improved consistency, pathogen control and decreased spoilage. However, extensive processing can increase variability, destroy essential nutrients and create unwholesome by-products. From a formulator’s perspective, this creates a dilemma regarding how to assure the diet is sufficiently fortified while avoiding excess after accounting for processing effects.
Selenium is an essential trace mineral for dogs and cats. Due to wide variation in selenium content among ingredients used to make petfoods, most manufacturers will include a supplemental source in their trace mineral premix. The predominant form used in petfood is sodium selenite, which has been used for decades without much issue.
In the past several months, a recurring question from manufacturers of treats and semi-moist petfoods has come up: “Can we use ‘natural’ glycerin in our foods?” The quick answer is yes, but why are they asking this? There seems to be confusion creeping into the market; maybe some sort of controversy is brewing about glycerin.
To the couch potato, the word “plasma” likely conjures up thoughts of a new television; to Trekkies, it’s the high-energy gaseous field the USS Enterprise has to traverse periodically. In other words, the term by itself doesn’t necessarily conjure up a yuck factor.
Niacin was the third B vitamin to be identified as a dietary essential for its role in treating the deficiency disease “black tongue” in dogs and a disease with a similar etiology, pellagra, in humans. The discovery was tied to pets and humans consuming diets nearly monopolized by grains and deficient in quality proteins.