The use of alfalfa in some dog and cat foods has created questions with consumers—specifically, whether alfalfa is an ingredient that belongs in these foods. Unfortunately, there isn't a compelling or definitive answer for the petfood company, veterinarian or pet owner.
Despite its being synthetically produced predominately by Asian countries with a chemical-sounding name, pyridoxine hydrochloride (a source of vitamin B6) is nearly invisible on popular blame-blogs or safety discussions. This is an important vitamin; it touches nearly every part of animal metabolism and pyridoxine hydrochloride is found on nearly every petfood label around the globe, and yet there is near silence regarding its addition to petfoods.
While events that conspired to sweep petfood into the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 were not exclusively pathogen related, the net result has been an almost singular focus on eliminating Salmonella in petfood. Before 2007, the only area in the news that seemed to be affected by Salmonella was poultry products (i.e., chicken and eggs).
Xanthan gum is found occasionally in pet products, most commonly in wet foods and periodically in sauces and gravies, milk replacers and other liquid supplements. While one can find this ingredient in the specialty grocery aisle for vegetarian and gluten-free dietary needs, it is not what one would consider mainstream.
As more and more petfood brands strive for differentiation, the search for non-traditional ingredients intensifies. We have seen new meats and meals, tubers in many varieties and now legume seeds and beans becoming prominent.
Soybean oil plays an infrequent and peripheral role in petfoods. This is somewhat surprising given its popularity in human foods and its prevalence on grocery store shelves alongside corn and canola oil.
Periodically one finds an ingredient called Yucca schidigera extract on the label of a petfood—and not just on dog and cat food labels. You might even find it on ferret and rabbit food labels; and for those of you who consider your horse a pet, you may see it in horse feeds.
Organ meats have been called a multitude of names like viscera, entrails, tripe, paunch, offal and giblets. Despite the 18th-century monikers, they are the working internal organs, the guts, of the pig, chicken, cow, sheep or fish from which they derive.
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.
In the May 2020 issue of Petfood Industry, discover which U.S. pet food companies were added to China's customs list, how AAFCO regulations are likely to change and what the pet food industry will look like after the COVID-19 pandemic.