Raising The Standard for Pet Foods (A Letter from the Owner)

Raising The Standard for Pet Foods (A Letter from the Owner)


Biologically appropriate raw food (B.A.R.F.) is a system of feeding your pets what is "Nutritionally Sound and Nutritionally Adequate." This is the system thatMAXOTA RAW is based on. For any given species of animal, a nutritionally adequate diet, meal or feeding program is one which provides the range, the
type, the scope and the approximate balance of (nutritionally sound) food items that were eaten by that animal during its long period of evolution. Such a diet should contain most if not all the nutrients that animal requires for optimal health.

In contrast, AAFCO (Association of Feed Control Officials) states that a pet foods should be "Complete and Balanced." This agency's purpose is to oversee nutritional adequacy statements on pet food labels and is what some states (NJ & NY) have adopted to assure the available pet foods are "Complete and Balanced." AAFCO does not regulate, test, approve or certify pet foods. It's the pet food manufacturers' responsibility to manufacture the pet food according to AAFCO standards. In fact, the guaranteed analysis of the food and whether or not it truly meets AAFCO nutritional standards may never be verified by a regulatory authority.

To make any claim beyond saying that a diet is "Nutritionally Sound andNutritionally Adequate" is peddling a lie. By going beyond those two concepts of soundness and adequacy to further claim that a diet is totally "Complete" and totally "Balanced," is to speak in terms of that diet being the ultimate in nutrition. We are claiming that diet is perfect and it is scientific fraud to make that claim.

Processed pet foods are not even close to being "Complete and Balanced." There are at least four reasons for this. Firstly because no one can know the absolute nutritional requirements for any species of animal on this earth. Secondly because of the totally unsuitable nature of the ingredients used to produce processed pet foods. Thirdly because of variation in nutritional requirements between individuals, and finally because of the cooking process.

According to the National Research Council's “The Nutrient Requirements of Dogs” (NCR Guidelines) "...caution is advised in the use of AAFCO requirements without demonstration of nutrient availability, because in some cases requirements have been established on the basis of studies in which nutrients
were supplied by highly purified ingredients where digestibility and availability were not compromised by the interaction of dietary constituents and effects of processing. Practical diets formulated from commonly used ingredients are not free of such interactions and effects, and therefore may provide less available nutrients than the amounts measured by chemical analysis. For this reason, such
diets formulated to the chemically assayed nutrient levels...may prove inadequate in meeting the nutritional needs of dogs."

In other words, the net result is that analysis can demonstrate the presence of the limited number of nutrients the law says pet foods must contain, but many are partially or totally unavailable.

BARF meals that come close to being "Complete and Balanced" (i.e. nutritionally adequate) is both possible and desirable. The two basic and simple reasons this is valid are the BARF program uses a wide variety of whole raw foods, and it does not involve cooking.

The question is can raw food (BARF) meet AAFCO standards and still adhere to the principles of raw feeding?

No. What's worse, if raw foods are required to meet the same standards as kibble, AAFCO standards may actually cause raw food manufacturers to do more harm than good.

For example, AAFCO's current requirements for zinc is based on the low bio-availability of zinc in kibble: phytates in kibble bind with zinc, making zinc unavailable to the dog. With meat based raw foods, there are no phytates so this isn't an issue. Zinc also interacts with calcium. Less zinc is needed in diets lower
in calcium while more zinc is needed in diets high in calcium. If one uses NCR Guidelines, a 33 pound dog would require 52.5 mg zinc for 3500 kcal, but AAFCO would require 120 mg for the same dog. That's understandable if most of the zinc isn't bioavailable, but what happens when zinc is easily bioavailable, as it would be in a raw diet? Could the current levels cause raw manufacturers to put too much zinc in their diets in order to meet AAFCO standards? As with all micronutrients, an overdose could be harmful.

The ratios of food ingredients, such as calcium and phosphorus, vitamin D and calcium, copper and zinc, vitamin E and fats, are important. Phytates in grains and fiber and legumes bind with zinc, calcium, iron, and magnesium and make these critical minerals less available to the body. According to NCR Guidelines, "If the Ca:P ratio exceeds 2:1 or the diet contains significant amounts of phytate, (phosphorus) absorption will decrease.”

Foods with grains therefore need to add more phosphorus to meet the requirements of a dog than a meat based raw diet would. Requiring both to have the same amount of phosphorus doesn't make sense and is potentially harmful. The amount of protein on a label doesn't tell you if the amino acids are in balance with one another or if the protein is in a usable form. High heat and processing can reduce the availability of amino acids, especially lysine, methionine and cysteine.

Many of the required nutrients (and there are over 40) are reactive or labile under the conditions of extrusion and high heat, so AAFCO nutrient profiles have been established to try to make up for this.

With vitamins, many nutritionists are opposed to using chemically synthesized vitamins, and for good reasons. A natural, whole food vitamin is different from a chemically synthesized vitamin. These differences will affect how the synthetic vitamin is absorbed and utilized by the body.

Ron Carsten, DVM MS, states (The Benefits of Whole Food Nutrition in Veterinary Medicine, Whole Food Nutrition Journal): "Synthetic vitamins and other substances are added (to kibble) in an effort to compensate for this nutrient loss. However, these additives create ongoing metabolic stresses that, coupled
with the limited ingredient selection and processing of foods, leads to situations in which cellular nutritional status can be compromised, causing malnutrition."

We need standards to protect our pets from harmful imbalances, insufficientcies or excesses. When it comes to raw foods however, AAFCO standards may not be a good fit nor do they ensure true nutritional excellence for dogs.

The BARF program of feeding pets goes well beyond the standards laid down by AAFCO, and is much closer to the theoretical ideal of being "Complete and Balanced."

To achieve nutritional soundness and adequacy, it is vitally important to feed as wide a range of whole foods as possible. This principle, in addition to feeding MAXOTA RAW, will ensure that your pet will achieve optimal health and wellness for many years to come.

Gunner Williams 2014