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If you haven't noticed, the FDA has started targeted raw pet food brands through safety audits and the following brands have been impacted to date:
- Stella & Chewy's, July 2015
- Vital Essentials Raw, July 2015
- Bravo!, July 2015
- Nature's Variety, July 2015
- OC Raw Dog, September 2015
- K-9 Kravings, October 2015
Although these recalls have made some pet owners nervous, I'm not concerned. These safety audits weren't prompted by reports of illnesses in dogs or humans. Some feel that the FDA is working in conjunction with bigger brands (Purina, Mars, Hill's) to stem the growing popularity of what they see as a “trend diet.”
FYI – people have been feeding raw longer than people have been feeding dry food.
Others feel that this is a case of a group of people who aren't educated in dog nutrition doing their job and trying to stay relevant.
Regardless of why the FDA is coming after raw brands, I expect to see some changes in how raw dog food is processed.
The first of those changes came to my attention on Wednesday 8/5 in an email from Bravo Pet Foods.
The news of this announcement will disappoint many people in the raw feeding community, because to some, High-Pressure Pasteurization (HPP) kills vital nutrients in the food, taking away the reason we feed raw by turning a product into processed dog food.
But first things first.
What is High-Pressure Pasteurization?
“High Pressure Processing (HPP) is a method of food processing where food is subjected to elevated pressures (up to 87,000 pounds per square inch or approximately 6,000 atmospheres), with or without the addition of heat, to achieve microbial inactivation or to alter the food attributes in order to achieve consumer-desired qualities. Pressure inactivates most vegetative bacteria at pressures above 60,000 pounds per square inch. HPP retains food quality, maintains natural freshness, and extends microbiological shelf life.” Source: Ohioline.osu.edu (update: 1/21/16, this page has been removed from OSU's site)
If you're saying “huh?” then watch this video by Dr. Karen Becker for clarification:
Will More Raw Brands Use HPP?
Of course, I can't possibly know, but think about all the benefits to brands when using high-pressure pasteurization.
- dog lovers who are nervous about the bacteria in raw food might be more comfortable with food that's been treated with HPP
- pre-made raw dog food that has been treated with HPP is safer for dog lovers and dogs who are living with a severely compromised immune system
- traditional veterinarians may be more comfortable with and help promote raw feeding if more brands are using the HPP process
Although I've read that minimal changes occur to the food during HPP, I'd prefer to feed our dogs a non-HPP diet of raw food, because I want them to get all the nutrients that come with raw dog food. I make their food at home and have great sources for raw that are affordable, local, and sourced from humane and ethical farms. But on those days when I forget to thaw out raw or our freezers are running low, I have no problem buying raw from the store.
The brands I prefer and are available at our local pet store, through our raw food co-op, and via delivery are…
Our dogs have done well on all of these foods – no digestive issues and no allergies. I trust these brands with our dogs.
Raw Brands that Use HPP?
According to a local pet store that separates HPP raw from non-HPP raw to appeal to the customers, the following raw brands use HPP.
- Bravo Pet Foods
- Nature's Variety
- Northwest Naturals
- Primal Pet Foods
- Stella & Chewy's
- Stewart Pet
- Vital Essentials Raw
If you know of more brands please let me know in the comments below and I'll add them to the list.
The bottom line is it will be disappointing to see more raw brands pushed in this direction, however, it will open up raw feeding to more people as HPP eases a lot of the fears. Although I prefer to make our dogs' food at home (the FDA won't be knocking at my door), my thoughts on these brands haven't changed.
One thing I've noticed with many raw brands – they were started by people who were looking for a better, quality alternative for their dogs. Because I was on this same quest in 2013, I want to support these businesses as they improve the health of more dogs.