PET Food Processing - June 2020 - 31

Antioxidant usage in shelf-stable wet foods is very different than with kibble. It gets even more complicated with
refrigerated fresh products.
"Antioxidants can be added to the meat ingredients to
help maintain their high quality and palatability," Mann
said. "In addition, antioxidants can potentially help with
color retention and palatability of canned food.
"The oxidative stability of fresh and frozen food, or even
freeze-dried food produced from fresh or frozen meats, is
often overlooked," he said. "Adding the appropriate antioxidant during emulsification or prior to freezing can help
protect the quality of these products. Antioxidants can extend their shelf-life and maintain palatability if added early
in their manufacturing process."

For quality of life, too

In addition to ensuring product quality, antioxidants help
maintain quality of life. The antioxidants for this purpose
are generally those found in fruits and vegetables. Common
antioxidants include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and
certain compounds called carotenoids, such as lutein and
beta-carotene. They may be delivered in pet food through
the addition of fruit and vegetable ingredients, including
powders, concentrates and purées. The antioxidants may
also be added in the form of isolated ingredients.
"Research shows each antioxidant benefits the immune
system uniquely, so one antioxidant at high levels is not
as effective as a group of antioxidants acting together,"
Altom said.
Jeannie Swedberg, director of business development,
Tree Top Inc., Selah Wash., said, "Powerful antioxidants
contained in these ingredients can help the body - human or animal - fight free radicals. Free radicals are
highly reactive, oxygen-containing molecules that can
damage cell membranes and enzymes, which makes the
nervous and immune system especially vulnerable. Free
radicals are considered factors in disease progression and
premature aging."

Free radicals result from oxidation, a natural process
that occurs during digestion, exercise or simply breathing. They are produced in greater than normal amounts
when pets are sick, elderly, exposed to pollution or suffer
from poor nutrition. The more free radicals in the body,
the greater the potential for irrevocable damage. That's because once free radicals form, they can start a chain reaction, damaging healthy cells, which in turn can contribute
to various afflictions. Antioxidants terminate these chain
reactions by being oxidized themselves, thus preventing
free radical damage.
The right amount or combination of antioxidants in pet
food may assist with easing the pains and signs of aging.
They help build immunity and temper allergies while also
supporting overall health and wellness in pets.
"Nutritionally supporting the immune system may be
especially critical for young animals," Altom said. "In puppies, for example, the immune system is still developing
at the time it is being challenged with vaccinations and
exposure to disease-causing agents. With the addition of
antioxidants, a high-quality puppy diet can aid in the development of a strong immune system to help maintain good
health and protect against viruses, bacteria and parasites.
"Recent research also examined the effect of aging on
immune responses," Altom said. "The findings indicate that
as dogs and cats age, immune cell responses may decline.
Including antioxidants in the diet can reverse the age-related decrease in immune cell function."
Fruits and vegetables not only help meet a pet's dietary needs, they also supply great tag appeal. "Front-ofpackaging panel promotion or call-outs about the benefits
these ingredients provide will attract the attention of caring
pet parents," Swedberg said.
As premium pet foods and treats continue to be popular and contain an increasing variety of proteins, fats and
healthy ingredients, protecting those formulations will
remain a challenge for processors, requiring close attention
to antioxidants.
PFP

From a nutritional
perspective,
antioxidants support
a formulation's
ability to maintain
good health and
protect against
viruses, bacteria and
parasites.
Corbion

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