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Did You Know There are Two Kinds of Raw Pet Food on the Market?

Dr. Becker:

Story at-a-glance
  • High pressure pasteurization, or HPP, is a method of processing raw food to eliminate pathogens. High hydrostatic pressure is exerted by a liquid through a water bath that surrounds the product. The pressure is uniformly applied from all sides and throughout the product, which keeps the food from being crushed.
  • HPP is gaining popularity among raw pet food manufacturers who wish to make their products more appealing to the traditional veterinary community and pet owners who want to feed raw, but with zero risk of bacterial contamination.
  • Most raw food enthusiasts, however, do not believe “sterile” raw food should be considered raw, since HPP processing does modify whole living foods.
  • HPP-processed raw pet food can be beneficial for dogs and cats with compromised immune systems, and it’s a good alternative for pet owners who want to feed raw to a dog or cat in less than optimal health.
  • Dr. Becker believes unadulterated raw diets are best for healthy, thriving pets, and that “sterile” raw diets also have a place in households with an immunocompromised dog, cat or human family member.

By Dr. Becker

Today I want to talk about high pressure pasteurization, or HPP, and its controversial role in what we now refer to as "sterile" raw pet food.

High pressure pasteurization is a processing method used by the USDA to eliminate microbes in the food chain. According to Virginia Tech’s High Pressure Processing Lab:

"HPP is a non-thermal preservation and pasteurization technique that causes little or no change in the organoleptic and nutritional attributes of the product being processed unlike most conventional heat treatments."

Organoleptic attributes include things like taste, odor, color, and the feel of foods.

The High Pressure Pasteurization Process

The way HPP works is by applying high hydrostatic pressure, which is pressure exerted by a liquid, through a water bath that surrounds the product. The pressure is uniformly applied from all sides and throughout the product, which keeps the food from being crushed.

According to HPP proponents, the process does not cause the foods to undergo significant chemical transformation, but does successfully eliminate all pathogenic microbes from the food, including bacteria such as Listeria, Salmonella, and E. coli.

High pressure pasteurization is USDA-approved, touted as being a 100 percent natural process, and is allowed for use on organic and natural products in both the human and pet food markets.

Is Raw Food That Has Been High Pressure Pasteurized Truly Raw?

Many raw feeders believe HPP is a method of processing whole living food into a modification of whole living food, and that we should not confuse truly unadulterated raw food with raw food that has been processed using HPP.

Depending on the amount of pressure used, research has demonstrated that proteins do denature, and beneficial good bacteria are obliterated during HPP processing. For these reasons, some raw feeders don’t feel pet food companies selling HPP-treated diets should be allowed to call them "raw."

Some raw pet food manufacturers have started using HPP for a variety of reasons. I think one of the reasons is they are hoping to increase acceptance of raw diets by the veterinary community.

I also think they want to opt out of the never-ending debate about the potential presence of bacteria and parasites in raw food. They are hoping to appeal to nervous pet owners who want to feed raw with zero risk of bacterial contamination to their pets or themselves.

Some Pets Can Benefit from Sterile Raw Food

There are animals who can benefit from sterile (HPP processed) raw food. These include some pets undergoing chemotherapy. Dogs and cats with significantly compromised immune systems should not be exposed to potential pathogens from any source, including food.

Raw food that has undergone HPP provides these pets with a convenient source of a better-quality food that is also sterile, which is important in reducing the risk to debilitated bodies.

Additionally, many veterinarians feel much more comfortable recommending sterile raw foods for pets with compromised GI defenses. Pets dealing with dysbiosis and inflammatory bowel disease may not have the gut resiliency to handle normal bacteria loads found in some foods. Many of these pets do much better on sterile foods until their gut issues are healed.

So sterile raw foods can be a good compromise for pet parents who want to provide the benefits of raw food to a dog or a cat, for which a true unadulterated raw diet would pose an unacceptable risk to the pet or themselves. We should keep in mind that some pet owners are also immunocompromised or immunosuppressed, but they still wish to feed their pets the best, most optimal diet.

One important point to remember is that HPP treated foods are sterile after processing, but are still susceptible to the same handling and storage issues that face all raw meat products. A half used bag of HPP treated raw food sitting in the refrigerator for four weeks will still pose the same risks as other raw meats. So the handling of HPP treated pet food is no different than the handling of any raw meat product.

Unadulterated Commercial Raw Pet Food: Safer than Canned, Safer than Kibble

I see two unfortunate issues unfolding with the increased use of HPP within the commercial raw food industry.

First, many HPP proponents believe ALL raw foods on the market should be treated with HPP in order to gain acceptance by the traditional veterinary community and pet owners who want to feed raw, but with the reassurance the food is initially bacteria-free.

Number two, a certain percentage of the general public may assume the increased use of HPP is due to issues or problems stemming from unadulterated raw food diets, which is simply untrue.

Most manufacturers of unadulterated (non HPP) raw pet food use high-quality USDA-inspected meats. They also test their products for proper nutrient levels and contaminants, which is why raw meat diets have substantially less potential for high loads of toxins and are typically not the subject of pet food recalls. By contrast, most mass-marketed dry foods, which are regulated by the FDA not the USDA, use rendered and 4-D meats (meats from dead, dying, disabled, and diseased animals).

Because commercially available raw food diets are grain-free and therefore mycotoxin-free… because raw pet food companies use high quality meats sourced from healthy animals… and because they focus on microbially responsible food processing, there’s actually a much lower risk of recalls involving unadulterated raw food than there is with commercial kibble.

My Recommendation

If your pet is a healthy, thriving dog or cat, then a completely fresh unadulterated raw diet is what I would recommend. There are tremendous nutritional benefits derived from eating non-sterile foods.

Those of you who have been subscribers here for many years know that I always recommend that we mimic Mother Nature when feeding our pets. Given the choice, our dogs and cats would choose to hunt and consume fresh prey — but they would certainly not be catching sterile prey.

Dogs and cats are designed to efficiently and healthfully process the normal bacteria loads found in their prey. That’s also why pets can lick their butts, eat poop, and not die from those behaviors — they were designed by nature to be able to do such things.

So, what’s my take on this up-and-coming hygiene procedure in the pet food industry? I don’t see a need for the majority of pets to be fed sterile raw foods, as the majority of pets are not significantly immunocompromised. However, I am thankful that we have some raw food options processed using HPP in the case of animals that cannot handle the normal bacterial load of unadulterated raw food. Feeding HPP-processed raw foods to healthy pets will not harm them, of course, but it’s unnecessary.

If you want to know whether the raw food you’re buying has been subjected to high pressure pasteurization, try checking the company’s website first and if you don’t find the information there, you’ll need to call the manufacturer to find out.

Homemade Chicken Jerky Recipe for Dogs (Pets)

chicken jerky

Yummy super-simple treat… and it’s also super-popular with dogs and healthy. Chicken Jerky is a Treat made from thin strips of chicken slow baked to almost the point of crispness.

Ingredients

1 pound chicken breasts (I baked three pounds!)

Start by preheating your oven to 170 or 180 degrees, depending on how low your oven will go. While that’s preheating, assemble the chicken. I used frozen chicken breast tenderloins (this is a great way to use any chicken you’ve got that’s become freezer burned!)

I had thawed the frozen chicken breasts by putting them in the refrigerator overnight…and woke up to find they were still frozen! I put the chicken in a big bowl of cold water for about 15 minutes which thawed it enough to slice with a sharp knife. TIP: It’s easier to slice the chicken when it’s semi-frozen rather than completely thawed; you can use the heel of your hand on the knife to “chop” the slices rather than trying to saw through thawed meat.

The only difficult part of this dog treat recipe is the slicing; you’ll want to slice the chicken no more than about 1/4 inch wide. Slice with the grain of the chicken, rather than against it; this will make the treats a little chewier and make them last a LITTLE bit longer when you give them to your dogs.

Slice up the chicken and place it on a greased cookie sheet; be sure to use one with a slight edge because there will be water and juices from the chicken during the first hour of cooking. Leave about a 1/2 inch or so between slices and just make sure they’re not touching.

Once you’re finished slicing, pop the cookie sheets in the oven and bake for two hours. After two hours, check the slices and see if they’re dry. You don’t want them to be crispy to the point of snapping but you do want them to be very chewy. (They should look like a very done french fry.) Because I baked three pounds of chicken at once, I had to bake my treats for an 90 minutes and I flipped the slices with a spatula after two hours of baking.

When they’re done, remove the treats from the oven and cool on a drying rack. If you don’t have one (I don’t), just flip a dish drainer over and drape with a dish towel then put your treats on the towel to dry. (You just want to get the treats up off the metal cookie sheets so they’ll cool crispier. A wicker basket flipped over and draped with a cup towel work work great, too.)

When the treats are completely cool, bag them in zippered bags or pop them in an airtight container and refrigerate. You can also freeze the treats for several months. Be warned, though: these are VERY popular treats…they’ll go fast! (Cats also love them!)

Related:

Pet Jerky Death Toll Update: 360 dogs, 1 Cat According to FDA

A Raw Food KIBBLE?

When Raw Food is NOT the Right Food for Your Pet

Surprise, Surprise… the Best Food for Dogs Is Homemade Food

Free Homemade Dog Food Recipes

The Importance of Bones in Your Pet’s Diet

The Nutrient Your Pet Needs More of As They Age: Protein

Pancreatitis in Dogs

Good Diet and Advice for Dogs with Pancreatitis

“Holidays Are Great and Fun To Share With Our Pets, As Long As We Avoid the No-No Foods”

Gourmet Doggie Biscuits and Some Holiday Snacking Tips

Beef Verses Bison for Dogs – Variety is critical for your pet to receive the full spectrum of amino acids, essential fatty acids, trace minerals, vitamins and antioxidants necessary to thrive.

Fatty Acids May Improve Mobility In Osteoarthritic Dogs

Pets and Toxic Plants

Natural Pet Remedies For Everyday Problems

Allergies and Springtime Ailments in Pets

Do Vaccinations Affect the Health of our Pets?

How the Pet Food Industry Has Helped Create "Carnivore Metabolic Syndrome"

Now dogs Have a Food Truck of Their Own With Bow-Wow Chow

Dysbiosis: The Root Cause of Many Other Pet Health Problems

Cancer and Your Pet: Two Things to Avoid

Now dogs Have a Food Truck of Their Own With Bow-Wow Chow

The Nutrient Your Dog Needs More of As They Age: Protein – And Expecting Your Pet to Get It from Rendered Pet Food Is the Worst of the Worst of the Worst Options!

Pupcakes

Gourmet Doggie Biscuits and Some Holiday Snacking Tips

Beef Verses Bison for Dogs – Variety is critical for your pet to receive the full spectrum of amino acids, essential fatty acids, trace minerals, vitamins and antioxidants necessary to thrive.

Chicken Jerky Recipe for dogs

WHAT HUMAN FOODS ARE UNSAFE FOR PETS? (the 12 worst)–> chocolate, sugarless gum & artificial sweeteners, alcohol, yeast dough, grapes & raisins, Macadamia nuts, onions (bad for dogs and cats… but poison for cats), garlic (for cats), caffeine, fat trimmings and bones (bad for cats and limited fat and the right bones for dogs), raw eggs (for cats, but must be careful for dogs and humans), and milk.

Some of the best human foods for dogs: peanut butter (although peanuts and peanut butter can contain mold so could be bad for humans and dogs), cheese including cottage cheese (some some dogs can be prone to be lactose intolerant like people), yogurt, watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe, blueberries, salmon, green beans, sweet potatoes, fresh raw carrots, pumpkin, and lean meat… cooked or raw.

Resources:

Not Fit for a Dog!: The Truth About Manufactured Dog and Cat Food

See Spot Live Longer – How to help your dog live a longer and healthier life!

Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs: The Definitive Guide to Homemade Meals

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October 25, 2012 - Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Related Education, animals, Dogs, Dogs, Holistic Pet Health, Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, Pet Nutrition, Pets | , , , , , ,

6 Comments »

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    Pingback by Toxic Chicken Jerky Pet Treats Pulled from Store Shelves! | askmarion | February 2, 2013 | Reply

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