The fact is that the process of heating food over 118 degrees, whether for human or pet consumption, kills most if not all of the nutritious value and flavor along with any possible parasites and pathogens.
This is one of the main reasons many people are choosing raw food diets for themselves and their pets.
In an article I read, Dr. Jean Dodds read what she had this to say on the subject of raw pet food versus cooked diets on the Next Page;
Fact: Many of us in the veterinary community, including myself, have seen first-hand the health and vigor of dogs and cats fed raw diets. These animals just ‘shine’ in all respects. While these observations are shared by a growing number of animal health care professionals as well as experienced dog and cat fanciers, they could be considered as merely anecdotal. Perhaps so, but I consider them experiential findings based on years of observations by many dedicated professionals in the holistic veterinary field.
Fact: Veterinarians speaking on behalf of the AVMA have stated that the commercial pet food industry has a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy for Salmonella in kibbled products, creating the impression that this same zero-tolerance would not pertain to commercial raw diets. This is false.
As anyone who follows pet food recalls knows, commercially produced kibbled products and treats are recalled on a regular basis due to contamination with Salmonella and E. coli (Campylobacter is also of concern).
Fact: Larger producers of raw pet foods incorporate a ‘kill-step’ into their production process to eliminate pathogens while creating the least impact on the food’s enzymes, proteins and other nutrients. One such method involves high pressure processing (HPP), which works by using intense pressure rather than heat to kill the pathogens including E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria. HPP also kills yeasts and molds. (1)
Since HPP does not use heat, the nutritional integrity of the raw product remains intact, including its flavor, color and texture. Moreover, the finished product remains raw. HPP, therefore, creates what is truly a “pathogen-free” raw meat product.
HPP commercial raw diets versus non-HPP commercial raw
Raw diet manufacturers that do not use a pathogen kill-step such as HPP run a higher risk of releasing contaminated product into the marketplace. Therefore, if you are interested in minimizing the risk of pathogens, I suggest calling or emailing the company to find out if it incorporates HPP into its production process. Since these manufacturers also test and hold each batch of food prior to releasing it into the marketplace, you have the extra assurance that your pet’s raw diet is really free of harmful organisms.
According to the North American Raw Pet Food Association (NARPA), the manufacturers that utilize a pathogen kill-step such as HPP produce 75% of the commercial raw diets sold, so finding one that suits your needs and preferences should not be difficult. (2)
Regardless of which type of raw diet you choose, practicing impeccable hygiene is essential. Always thoroughly scrub and wash your food preparation surface as well as your pet’s bowl and any utensils used. And, never let any unfinished portion sit in your pet’s bowl for longer than 10 – 15 minutes, as it will become a natural breeding ground for harmful organisms.
Nutritionally, raw diets are the most wholesome, followed by dehydrated, freeze-dried and fresh, home cooked, properly balanced diets. Premium quality commercial kibbled and canned food diets are the next tier of the pet food chain, especially those that are grain- or gluten- free. (1)
While not all pets are suited for raw meat, those who are often thrive on it. If they have a history of bowel problems or compromised immune systems, they should not be fed raw meat as they may be unable to process it. If your unsure about the safety of a particular raw pet food, it is advised as stated above to contact them and ask what type of testing they use and whether or not each batch of food is tested before being sent out for commercial purchase.
Before completely dismissing the idea of feeding it to your pets, understand the reasoning behind it and do some research so you can make an informed decision for your pets. Ask a Holistic vet, as many standard vets are less inclined to get down to the truth of the matter.
Image Credits: Hennasabel via flickr