Pet Food Processing - June 2018 - 50
in more traditional
An added benefit is
freeze-dried foods are
lighter in weight, making them easier for pet
owners to carry and store.
Fresh versus bagged
specialty diets, tailored specifically to
each pet delivered
directly to homes.
Industry disruptor, Freshpet
broke into the market selling pet
owners on the appeal of refrigerated
pet food made with fresh, wholesome ingredients available at grocery and pet specialty stores.
Honest Kitchen, Sojos, Open Farm and others offer
dried foods that pet owners rehydrate before serving.
Taking the Freshpet concept a step further, prepared,
fresh, specialty diets, tailored specifically to each pet,
can now be delivered directly to homes from PetPlate
and Farmers Dog among others. Renaldo Webb, founder of PetPlate, New York, New York, says, "At PetPlate we
decided, with the help of our veterinary nutritionist, Dr.
Renee Streeter, that human-grade ingredients were the
best way to ensure our pets are getting the proper nutrients while minimizing the impact of many aliments
such as obesity, severe allergies and digestive issues."
With all pet foods, pet safety is a priority and like any
human food that is fresh, raw or minimally processed,
spoilage and contamination can be issues. Unlike traditional dry, shelf-stable pet foods, these products have
high moisture or are rehydrated at home and manufacturers need to educate pet owners on the proper storage and cleaning required for these diets similar to what
humans are accustomed to doing for their own refrigerated, raw or frozen foods they handle at home.
While U.S. sales of raw diets continue to grow from
$64 million in 2013 to $195 million in 2017, according to market research firm GfK, there is some risk that
raw diets can present a higher risk of harmful bacteria
than cooked or extruded products. The public should
be aware that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Center for Veterinary Medicine stated it "... does not
believe raw meat foods for animals are consistent with
the goal of protecting the public from significant health
risks, particularly when such products are brought into
the home and/or used to feed domestic pets; however,
we understand that some people prefer to feed these
types of diets to their pets."
Blake Hawley, Ph.D., president of Cedoga Consulting,
Lawrence, Kansas, says recent advancements to ensure
pet food safety with patented, natural processing aids have
the potential to prevent contamination from Salmonella,
Listeria, molds and mycotoxins. Many pet food produc-
PET FOOD PROCESSING | June 2018 | www.petfoodprocessing.net
ers, including raw food producers, test for E-bacteria,
or Enterobacteriaceae, commonly called E bac, as an
indicator of the presence of Salmonella or E. coli. There
has been much written about deploying phages, a form
of E bac, to combat Salmonella in raw meat proteins.
Frank Monteleone, president of Food Safe Technologies,
Charlotte, North Carolina, explains, "While many species of E bac will overwhelm Salmonella, the thought of
contributing to a bacteria battle ground on their pet food
is somewhat disturbing for most pet food producers. The
best practice is to use processing aids to eliminate the
bacteria as much as possible and as soon as possible after
harvesting the raw proteins before water, temperature and
time help them grow."
A call to innovate
Some of the standard ingredients available for years in
specialty diets are glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, inulin, fruits high in antioxidants or oils added to the formulations for the omegas. New ingredients are emerging
that promise improved immune function, dental benefits, hip and joint health, relief for pets with food hypersensitivities and allergies, products designed to increase
water consumption in cats or naturally improve atopic
dermatitis in dogs, Hawley remarks. Processors should
take an active role in investigating these new options.
Pet foods specifically formulated by knowledgeable
veterinarians targeting specific health attributes and
common pet owner concerns began in the mid-forties
with Mark Morris, Ph.D., who later developed Hills
Prescription Diet formulas. Work has continued in these
areas but is no longer confined to the veterinary clinic.
Hawley says, today these specialty foods target pets predisposed to common ailments such as kidney disease,
liver disease, feline lower urinary tract disease/feline
urinary syndrome (FLUTD/FUS), dental health, joint
health and even cancer.
"Today's pet owners have greater access to information than at any time, and while the Internet is littered
with fallacies around pet foods, our industry owes them
the latest novel and scientifically proven functional ingredients," explains Hawley in an impassioned plea for
the industry to innovate. "This is a huge opportunity for
specialty food and treat processors to launch new products in which the level of actives present in the products
are at truly efficacious levels, resulting in a functional
benefit the pet owner can see in their pets." While geared
toward animal supplements primarily, the guidelines
provided by the National Animal Supplement Counsel
are a great place to start, Hawley recommends, but the
industry needs to look at the leading edge of human nutritional science as well for novel opportunities.
Many specialty-diet formulations include omega fatty