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The Balancing Act Of Safe And Healthy Pet Food

There comes a point when we have to step back and really analyze what is going on around us, and try to determine what the best course of action should be. I’m at that point now with the pending government legislation and behind the scenes tactics being used to discourage the use of raw meat diets.

Between the new government safety issues being legislated and the influence of big pet food manufacturers on the AVMA, we are fighting an uphill battle. The poor consumer is being inundated with advice and propaganda on the do’s and don’ts of feeding your dog.

Obviously, big pet food manufacturers are being threatened by the sudden surge in popularity of the raw food movement. Their influences on the veterinary community and their lobbying ties with governmental agencies are creating an environment of confusion and worry for raw food advocates everywhere.

It all started with consumer demands for better ingredient sources and reliable, quality, manufacturing practices caused by the massive melamine-tainted pet food recall of 2007. Next, it was only feeding ingredients that were obtained from grass fed animals. Then, it was the concern for animal proteins sourced from hormone-free and antibiotic-free animals. Now, the most recent concern has shifted to a bacteria-free environment.

Consumers were warned by their vets that their animals would get sick because of raw meat diets, based on the high bacterial levels from Salmonella and E. coli.

Consequently, the government has jumped on the bandwagon and is considering implementing new rules and guidelines for a zero tolerance level of good and bad bacteria.

This new guideline has potentially dire consequences.

I refer to the results that have been exposed regarding the pasteurization process to safeguard milk. Each day, millions of us consume a glass of milk that has been rendered “safe” through pasteurization. But what we are actually getting is a reduction of good bacterial concentrations in the gut. Eventually this will take a toll on our bodies in the same way that the new standard of bacteria-free raw meat diets will have on our pets.

Liken it to the American traveler who gets sick from eating the same taco in Mexico that the native Mexican eats everyday without incident.

Here are the facts: domesticated dogs and cats can tolerate levels of bacteria that a human cannot tolerate. They possess the mechanism to quite adequately consume and digest these raw materials without complications. This is not, however, to make a claim that the possibility of illness doesn’t exist. The standard of quality and proper handling procedures must be met in order to reduce the risk of sickness in both pet and human.

Yet I find it quite alarming that we have been boxed into this corner and may now be forced to conform to governmental standards for bacteria-free products as I feel will be detrimental to our customers and our pets.

There are basically three different ways to meet this bacteria-free requirement:

1. You can subject the diets to extreme heat – high enough to destroy and/or alter the protein structure of the ingredients and eliminate the possibility of good or bad bacteria in the diet.

2. Alternatively, you can expose the finished product to irradiation. This also will destroy all good and bad bacteria.

3. The third choice is high-pressure pasteurization. This method also destroys the good and bad bacteria with the application of extreme high pressure in a water bath. This will eliminate the good and bad bacteria with the least amount of damage to the ingredients.

In my estimation, the three choices are all a misguided effort to protect the well being of our pets. In fact, I suspect that the next round of veterinary concerns will be digestive disturbances caused by the sterilization and elimination of needed bacteria in the gastrointestinal track.

The strength of the immune system is the key to prevention of disease and inflammation. Altering the immune system by removing all of the good bacteria is bound to cause problems over time.

The unfortunate choice that we as a company may be forced to make to is to pick one of the three pathogen-free processes listed above.

Out of these three options, it seems that the high-pressure pasteurization process is the least damaging to both product and animal and will be the most logical choice that we can make in order to fall in line with the new standards. That is not to say that we’ve made this change. At this time, we are not high-pressure pasteurizing our BARF World Diets.

I guess one good result may come out of using this process to create a bacteria-free diet. Maybe our nation’s veterinarians will begin to recommend raw diets as an advantage over a grain based, heat processed kibble diet since the bacteria objection will become null and void.

It is interesting to note that we have recently seen the results of heat-processed dry, kibble as well as wet, canned food diets that have still been subjected to mass recalls as a result of bacterial contamination. This proves that all pet foods are vulnerable to bacterial issues, even after following the recommended guidelines of the government. Nevertheless, after 35 years of feeding raw, my conviction remains unwavering. There is no better food option for our pets than a complete & balanced raw meat diet.

Rob Mueller and RoxieRobert Mueller, BSc, Pharm. is a registered pharmacist, author of “Living Enzymes: The World’s Best Kept Pet Food Secret”, and co-developer of BARF World’s BARF diets patties, nuggets and supplements – the first company to make the Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods (BARF) diet conveniently available to animals everywhere. He and his wife love to travel around the world with their dog, Moxie – a Yorkshire Terrier/Maltese mix. For more articles like these and to learn more about the benefits of raw food for your pets, sign up for “The Intelligent Pet” monthly e-zine at www.barfworld.com.

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