Digging into ultra processed pet foods
Here at Gourmate Pet Treat Co., we're a bit obsessed with the quality of food we provide for our pets. When I started hearing about ultra-processed foods in the context of humans, I wanted to learn more about what this means for our pets too.
What are ultra-processed foods?
The term ultra-processed food (aka UPFs) originated from the NOVA food classification system, which ranks foods from one (unprocessed/raw foods) to four (ultra-processed). UPFs are similar in both pet and human foods - formulations made with numerous industrial processes, involving high heat, additives, preservatives, and flavour enhancers.
Check out some ingredients next time you're in the pet store; if you don't recognise some words, then you're likely looking at highly processed food.
Why are UPFs a concern for our pets?
While UPFs can make foods cheap and convenient, there is an increasing concern that they pose health risks to pets, much like in humans. Diets rich in processed ingredients may lead to obesity, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses.
One of the most concerning processes in pet foods is the use of gamma radiation, which is linked to kidney damage. Some New Zealand vets have advised against feeding jerky treats made overseas because of this risk.
Under pet food manufacturing standards there is no limit to irradiation treatment, which is just another reason that we maintain human food-grade standards here at Gourmate.
Where does freeze drying fit into the NOVA scale?
You know that we love the freeze dryer here at Gourmate HQ, and while it is an industrial process, it mimics a natural process.
Freeze-drying is a unique method that preserves food by removing moisture through sublimation, keeping it close to its natural state without any kind of added preservative. While it's not explicitly mentioned in the NOVA system, freeze-dried pet treats likely fall into categories one or two due to their nutrient-rich, additive-free nature.
The beauty of freeze-dried food and treats is that they offer the convenience of kibble with the nutritional benefits of raw or whole foods and no added nasties.
Freeze-dried whole proteins are a healthy and natural addition to your dog or cat’s diet, and the super-concentrated taste makes for high-reward training treats too - no UPFs in sight.