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They are at it again!!!!

Discussion in 'Commercial Food' started by ghggp, Nov 16, 2019.

  1. ghggp

    ghggp Moderator

    Aug 28, 2011
    Grosse Pointe, Michigan
    Story at-a-glance -
    • Despite growing concerns about the connection between grain-free formulas containing pulse crops and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs, the processed pet food industry continues to talk up the use of fava beans in grain-free pet food
    • In addition to the DCM connection, there are many other reasons pulse crops such as fava beans don’t belong in dog and cat food, e.g., they contain substances pets’ bodies can’t digest, that also interfere with mineral absorption
    Despite the much-publicized suspected link between grain-free diets high in legumes and diet-related dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs, the processed pet food industry remains very committed to searching out biologically inappropriate pulse crops for potential use in dog and cat food.

    A recent favorite is fava beans (also called faba and broad beans), which “may be the next new grain-free ingredient in the pet food aisle,” according to a recent article in a pet food industry publication.1 Last year the same publication promoted a 2017 study that suggests fava beans are an “effective ingredient for use in a commercial dog diet.”2

    “It appears fava beans were well tolerated at all levels tested and only influenced digestibility at higher levels,” reported study co-author Greg Aldrich, PhD. “The dehulled fava beans in our study processed well in extrusion. They would be a solid contributor as an ingredient choice in modern pet foods.”3

    This study is typical of pet food industry scientific research designed to see how much of a biologically inappropriate ingredient pets can ingest before it interferes with their digestion in an immediately measurable way. The dogs in the study didn’t develop noticeable digestive issues until they were subjected to higher levels of fava beans.

    This is a considered a win by the industry, because they now have yet another inexpensive, plentiful, plant-based (i.e., biologically inappropriate) ingredient they can use to inflate the protein percentage in their formulas, and also potentially use to replace meat protein in vegetarian or vegan pet foods.

    Why Pulse Crops Don’t Belong in Pet Food
    Pulse crops, also called pulses or legumes, are plants with a pod. “Pulse” is the term used to identify the edible seeds of legumes, and is derived from the Latin word puls, meaning thick soup. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)4 recognizes 11 primary pulses:5

    Dry beans (kidney, lima, azuki, mung, black gram, scarlet runner, ricebean, moth, and tepary)


    Dry broad beans (fava, horse, broad, field)

    Bambara groundnut

    Dry peas (garden, protein)




    Dry cowpea

    Minor pulses (lablab, jack, winged, velvet, and yam beans)

    Pigeon pea

    Because they are high in fiber, folate, iron (when eaten with a source of vitamin C), and complex carbohydrates, and are also low in fat, pulse crops are considered nutritious for humans by some nutritionists, and not by others. Some experts advise keeping legume intake minimal for the same reason I recommend avoiding feeding these foods to pets — the presence of phytates and lectins that are naturally found in legumes.

    Phytates are substances that carnivores can’t break down because they lack phytase, the enzyme necessary to process phytic acid. Phytates bind minerals (including zinc, iron, calcium and magnesium), leeching them out of your pet’s body. Lectins are sticky proteins that when consumed in large quantities may contribute to gastrointestinal (GI) disturbances and leaky gut.

    Pet food producers and their ingredient suppliers are aware that many pet parents tend to believe foods that are healthy for humans are also healthy for dogs and cats. In fact, they use pet owners' lack of knowledge about pet food ingredients to create and market biologically inappropriate diets. For example, one of the marketing approaches used to promote pet foods containing bean meal is weight loss.

    The nutrient profile in beans may benefit some humans and other omnivores and herbivores, but carnivores thrive on animal — not plant — protein, and they don't benefit physiologically from starch or high levels of dietary fiber. Cats are true carnivores and dogs are facultative carnivores, not omnivores or herbivores, but that pesky little fact certainly hasn’t diminished the pet food industry’s love affair with ingredients nature didn’t design dogs and cats to eat.

    Most Pet Food Research is Conducted for the Benefit of Pet Food Companies, Not Dogs and Cats
    Also good news for pet food producers is that fava beans “processed well in extrusion.” Extrusion, as we know, is a manufacturing method that has been used by the pet food industry for decades. About 95% of dry pet diets are produced using the extrusion process.

    Batches of raw ingredients are mixed, sheared and heated under high pressure, forced through a spiral shaped screw and then through the die of the extruder machine. Extrudate is the result — a ribbon-like product that is then knife-cut and dried.

    The high temperature used in extrusion (nearly 400°F) and the short time frame to process (under 5 minutes) creates continuous chemical and physical alterations to the ingredient mixture. This not only changes the molecular activity of the food, but also potentially contributes to a heavier carcinogenic load and profound levels of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). So, to review, the pet food industry’s takeaways from the study are:

    • Fava beans hold up well in the extrusion process
    • Fava beans in moderate amounts can be tolerated by dogs
    • Fava beans can be used to boost the protein percentages (misleadingly, in my opinion) in pet food formulas
    Honestly, the simple fact that an ingredient such as fava beans must be tested in pets to see how much they can tolerate before they become ill is all the proof anyone should need that they didn’t evolve to eat that ingredient. Therefore, the intent and result of this study is 100% for the benefit of big pet food, and 0% for the benefit of the dogs and cats who will at some point be fed processed diets containing fava beans.

    Legumes and Grain-Free Pet Food
    As I mentioned earlier, there’s also cause for concern now that a link has been established between grain-free dog food containing legumes and a growing number of cases of the heart disease dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. Of the DCM cases the FDA reviewed for its report published in June, 91% of the diets were grain-free and 93% contained peas and/or lentils.

    It’s important to note that while legumes are being singled out as a potential problematic ingredient, no definitive test results have been released. However, grain-free kibble is often much higher in both whole carbohydrates and purified starches (e.g., pea starch, potato starch and tapioca starch) than grain-based dry dog food.

    The higher the starch level in any pet food, the less protein is included (hence my suggestion to avoid both grains and other sources of unnecessary starch in all pet food). You can find my most recent update on the grain-free kibble/DCM issue, including feeding recommendations, here.

    Link to the article
    Hanne, Sharon7, RikyR and 1 other person like this.
  2. Wendy C

    Wendy C Forums Enthusiast

    May 30, 2019
    Ugh!! It’s never ending isn’t it? Hard on owners and pets. :(
    Hanne, Ann, ghggp and 2 others like this.
  3. Piper's mom

    Piper's mom Moderator

    Jun 26, 2015
    Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
    I'm so thankful I feed raw, I don't have to deal with all this! I do feed my boys Smack, it's a dehydrated raw food that actually has 5 stars on dog food advisor. It has a lot of protein and I'd never feed it as their main meal but I do add a couple tablespoons per day to their food. Gives them an extra boost and makes their coat incredible. Made right here in Winnipeg actually.

    ghggp likes this.
  4. Wendy C

    Wendy C Forums Enthusiast

    May 30, 2019
    Every time I read one of these it makes me feel like a bad mom. I feed Royal Canin which was recommended by my Vet. I did have him on Orijens, but he was getting really loose stools so the Vet had us change. Our butcher has frozen containers of B.A.R.F. that he personally makes and I did wonder about it. :::sigh::::
  5. Sharon7

    Sharon7 Moderator

    Oct 31, 2009
    SIGH. :mad1: The thing that does frost me is the food companies willfully ignoring this data and continuing to push grain-free. I switched to Purina on the recommendation of my vet, from Wellness which I really liked. Not sure what to do now. I just don't want to feed raw or homecooked, I barely cook for the humans!
    Sandy in CT, Hanne and Wendy C like this.
  6. Wendy C

    Wendy C Forums Enthusiast

    May 30, 2019
    Gosh Sharon I am so glad I’m not alone on this. lol.
    Sandy in CT and Sharon7 like this.
  7. Ann

    Ann Moderator

    Feb 25, 2008
    This is what pushed me to freeze-dried. It's whole food and they love it, with none of this stuff in it. It's not cheap, so they only get it for dinner, and get kibble for breakfast (other than darling Flurry who has to get homecooked of course :rolleyes2: ) but at least I feel that they're getting something more nutritious than dry brown pebbles at one meal.

    Dr. Harvey's also makes freeze-dried that you just add the protein to, which I'd consider if I had fewer dogs. But cooking for 6 is more than I can do.
  8. Hanne

    Hanne Forums Sage

    Nov 13, 2014
    Me too :hide - thank you Sharon :wink2:
    ghggp, Sandy in CT and Sharon7 like this.
  9. RikyR

    RikyR Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2013
    Baton Rouge LA
    I have been feeding Zulu freeze-dried for almost 2 years now, and he going great. It is not cheap, but when you figure in the monthly cost, it is not a whole lot more than premium kibble. I rotate between several brands/recipes that do not include legumes, and add a little home cooking to the mix as a special treat. I still watch the ingredients carefully, I just do not have a lot of faith with the pet food industry.
    Piper's mom, Hanne, Ann and 3 others like this.
  10. Sandy in CT

    Sandy in CT Premium Member

    Aug 5, 2018
    My main thing with switching from grain free (fed to our doxies for 14 years just fine) was to limit legumes. I really feel that food companies are looking for cheap ways to incorporate protein to be able to say - hey look, we've got the correct amount of protein, then if you look carefully, it's protein but made up of stuff other than animal protein. I personally do not like the pea protein that seems to be in SO many dry dog foods just in the last year or two and so that was on my radar in trying out foods. I have also said many a times that I am suspect of so many rushing to those few 4 or 5 'accepted' brands - especially when those brands had a part of the reporting that came out pushing for them. Thank you for posting that link - gee, never ever considered the roundup concern in the non-animal proteins that have been added. Goodness, no wonder why our pets have issues that never seemed problematic years ago! I personally won't get into raw or freeze dried diets 10 due to costs, 2) due to prep, 3) due to limitations when we travel.

    I helped myself to reading a few of the other items on that site. Interested in adding a sardine maybe 3 days of the week to the dogs - do any of you do that?
    Piper's mom, ghggp and Hanne like this.

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