Prior to the commercialization of pet foods, people fed their pets table scraps, leftovers, or meat scraps purchased especially for pets.
In addition, pets were generally allowed to hunt and forage for themselves. A balanced diet was achieved over time, rather than ” per meal”. The first commercial pet food, called dog cake, was produced in 1860 by James Spratt. His company thrived into the 1950’s when it became part of General Mills. In 1907, F.H. Bennett introduced Milkbone dog biscuits, not as a treat but as a complete dog food. These two companies dominated pet food manufacture until the 1920s when canned dog food was introduced by Ken-L-Ration. By 1941, canned dog food represented 91% of the dog food market but this was reversed during World War II as tin was felt to be an important resource in the war effort and by 1946, dry foods became more popular. Kibble as you know it today appeared in 1957 when the Purina company began marketing dog chow and cat chow.
Pet owners liked the convenience of buying a pet food already prepared, that was convenient and said to be nutritionally balanced, and safe.
Today, commercial preparation of kibble and canned foods meet a spectacular demand with tons of food produced hourly. Ingredients are purchased by the truckload and include dry meals, sacks of vitamins and minerals and meats. With such huge volumes, is it any wonder dogs and cats died as a result of contaminated pet foods in 2007? It’s unlikely we will ever have a final count. In fact there may still be many pets consuming food with low levels of toxins that may not make them visibly sick now but which may at a later time in their life. In spring 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said that the agency received as many as 18,000 calls about the recalled foods, with as many as 50 percent “alleging” an animal death. Undoubtedly as part of a long-term process, the FDA will provide a final total of the number of confirmed deaths associated with these recalled products.
The good news is that pet food companies are doing more than they’ve ever done to secure better ingredients, establish or enforce traceability of ingredients, and communicate with pet owners buying their products.
Unfortunately, in some cases, this isn’t enough. Manufacturers of low-cost, low-quality foods will still buy the cheapest of ingredients: they’ll just be aware of the ingredients’ origins.
You may not know that there has been significant work going on behind the scenes with several raw pet food manufacturers. Since December of 2005 a dedicated group of people working at the behest of the Public Health Agency of Canada, and their cohorts at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, have come together to develop a set of guidelines for the production of frozen pet food products.
The Canadian Association of Raw Pet Food Manufacturers has been created to organize and elevate a growing group of companies making raw pet food products. The association consists of manufacturers what are committed to the production of quality, safe, and nutritious food for your companion animals. The group is currently soliciting support from all manufacturers in an attempt to bring “good manufacturing practices” to all, and to encourage development of the market.
Using a set of guidelines developed for the industry, they are setting standards of compliance for the industry that will work to mitigate production/ingredient problems, as well as establish minimum standards of safety in the production. Working with the guidance of various government agencies at both the provincial and federal level, they expect these guidelines to improve both the quality of product, and level of information provided to you, the consumer.
While they still have a lot to do, it’s a beginning. The current CARPFM membership is posted in the web site www.carpfm.ca
Article taken from:
Carnivora – Nutrition and Health Care for your Carnivore
Fall 2007 Newsletter produced by Carnivora www.carnivora.ca