Updated: Aug 31
Low-quality fats in kibble oxidize quickly and causes oxidation stress in the body. Therefore... kibble manufacturers are adding in antioxidants to combat this oxidative stress. But is it really helping?
Why Antioxidants Are Added
Quality fat is essential.
Many studies have shown poorly balanced fats to behavior problems, hormonal problems, weight gain, insulin sensitivity, gut issues, and more. Fat is also added to dry foods for palatability.
Researcher Dr. Andrew Mente, from McMaster University, said: “Our data suggests that low-fat diets put populations at increased risk for cardiovascular disease".
Fats are made of 3 molecules of fatty acids and 1 of glycerol. These dietary fats are broken down depending on the number of double bonds in the fatty acids. Saturated fats have no double bonds while unsaturated have 1 or more double bonds.
The more double bonds a fatty acid has, the more unstable and the more oxidation stress occurs. This is why Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs), also known as omega 3s, oxidize so rapidly.
Once the bag is open the fats turn rancid so the omega 3s are not longer omega 3s and turn into something that may be very harmful to dogs/cats.
When a bag of kibble is open, the food has around 2 weeks to be used before the fast all turn rancid. According to USDA, foods with saturated fats can only be frozen to 3-4 months until they begin to lose quality.
This drives kibble companies to add antioxidants to attempt to slow oxidation and oxidative stress from the low-quality fats. Notice I underline "attempt" because does it really help... or is it doing more harm than good?
I am not a huge fan of synthetic vitamins and minerals and now, antioxidants as well...
Synthetics are made by pharmaceutical (big pharma) NOT food companies. Meeting Brandy Vaughan who runs Learn The Risk, a non-profit who shares the dark truths behind Big Pharma, opened my eyes to how twisted and profit-driven the vaccine and drug industry is. If they don't care about the health of humans with vaccines and drugs why would they be concerned with antioxidants for the pet food industry?
Here are the most commonly used synthetic antioxidants. All are used to extend shelf-life and slow oxidation:
BHA (butylated hydroxytoluene)
BHT (butylated hydroxyanisole)
BHQ (tertiary butylhydroquinone)
BHA/BHT: classified as a human carcinogen, endocrine disruptor, a chemical cousin to BHA (BHT).
"Enhanced stomach and urinary bladder carcinogenesis. Causes squamous-cell carcinomas in stomachs. (Cancers of this type are among the most lethal and fastest-acting, the swiftest effects being seen among animals with light-colored fur.)"
Ethoxyquin: A pesticide. EPA claims dogs are more sensitive, the allowable amount in pet food is 75ppm, allowable in human foods 5ppm, no long term safety studies. In the late 80s pets were showing symptoms from Ethoxyquin in pet foods such as changes in liver enzymes so the accepted level was lowered from 150ppm to 75ppm. The FDA defended Ethoxyquin by saying it was healthier than rancid fats. Dogs and cats may eat this toxic pesticide their whole lives. Ethoxyquin is required to be added when transporting fish meals and poultry meals. Before 2012, Ethoxyquin didn’t need to be reported if it was in the fish meal and not added directly into the food. A sneaky way for a dangerous substance to end up in a dog's system!
According to Dr. Wendell Belfield, DVM, practicing veterinarian for some 26 years, both BHA and BHT are known to cause liver and kidney dysfunction and are banned in some European countries. He adds that ethoxyquin is suspected of causing cancer and that propylene glycol (a pet food ingredient closely related to anti-freeze) causes the destruction of red blood cells.
TBHQ: Derived from butane. Dogs are more sensitive than humans. There are no long term safety studies on this artificial antioxidant. It can cause pre-cancerous changes and DNA damage.
Other common antioxidants
Mixed tocopherols: Classified as vitamin E but is an isolate of vegetable oil and recycled restaurant grease. The most effective tocopherols are gamma tocopherols from cereal grains and oils.
Rosemary extracts: prevents oxidation and protects flavors. Most plants use solvents to extract oil.
Solvents = dissolving a substance is solute to form a solution.
Citric acid: This is the synthetic form of Vitamin C. It may be related to bloat in a dog form the production of crude sugars by fermentation.
Calcium propionate (E2A2): Most commonly found in pre-packed sliced bread and cheese. Prevents mildew by destroying and blocking enzymes that feed bacteria (good & bad). Naturally occurs in fermentation. Can cause irritation of mucous membrane in the digestive tract and cause allergy symptoms.
Using food that has natural citric acids such as blueberries, cranberries and apples are the safest but the more natural the preservative the shorter the shelf life of the food and faster it will oxidize
In moist dog foods, humectants can be added. Humectants are a hygroscopic (moisture absorbing) substance that keeps food moist. They are used in an array of skin products such as Aloe Vera, moisturizers, and also in cigarettes. Humectants play a big role in cigarette affection by increasing the pleasure the user receives.
The most notorious is Propylene Glycol which is absorbed and ⅓ excreted by the kidney. In large quantities, Propylene Glycol can cause kidney damage, central nervous system depression, and can predispose animals to diabetes.
Did you know? that the “best by” dates are only for closed bags of kibble. By 6 weeks all fats are rancid and many nutrients are lost.
Ethoxyquin is a sneaky and dangerous ingredient... Even though it does not state it on the label, ethoxyquin may very easily be in your dog's bowl.
Most fish meal has 8-12% lipids (fat) still left over that cannot be expelled. This makes the fish extremely prone to oxidation (fats reacting to oxygen) and becoming rancid. This is where ethoxyquin comes in at 750-1000 ppm (parts per million).
The established tolerances for ethoxyquin are as follows: 5 ppm in or on the uncooked fat of meat from animals (except poultry); 3 ppm in or on the uncooked liver and fat of poultry; 0.5 ppm in or on the uncooked muscle meat of animals; 0.5 ppm in poultry eggs; zero in milk. The maximum quantity of ethoxyquin “to be used and to remain in or on the treated article shall not exceed 150 parts per million (ppm).” - FDA
Ethoxyquin is legally allowed to be added into fish meal to prevent it from becoming rancid. A large percentage (a lot more than the FDA approves) of ethoxyquin is added onto the fish flesh before being processed. Since fish is mostly made of Polyunsaturated Acids (PUFAs), when processed, heated, and rendered the omega 3s become rancid, oxidize, and cause oxidation. Therefore, ethoxyquin being one of many dangerous preservatives, is added to the mix.
So why isn't ethoxyquin labeled on the ingredient list?
Because the kibble manufacturer did not add it into the food... their supplier did. Kibble manufacturers do not need to add their supplier's ingredient list (i.e low-quality fish and ethoxyquin) just the end product of the supplier (i.e rancid & toxic fish meal).
Analyzing The Label
Let's take a look at some food labels to help you seek out the good from the bad!
The most common synthetic antioxidant found in foods is BHA.
The food above is Ol' Roy. On top of the mountain of carbs, low-quality and inflammatory protein sources, and synthetic vitamins/minerals... it only makes sense they would add BHA too!
The animal fat is preserved with BHA because it is so low-quality and rancid. AAFCO defines animal fat as "obtained from the tissues of mammals, and/or poultry in the commercial process of rendering". Pentobarbital was found in meat/bone meal, beef bones meal, animal fat, and animal digest are most likely made from rendered animals. Pentobarbital slows the activity of your brain and nervous system.
Pentobarbital was found in meat/bone meal, beef bones meal, animal fat, and animal digest are most likely made from rendered animals. Pentobarbital slows the activity of your brain and nervous system.
Many of the times animal fat, liquid meat extract, vegetable/fish oils, meat digest, nonfat dried milk products, and garlic are sprayed onto kibble for palatability.
Generic fats such as animal fat, vegetable oils, and lard should be avoided since they are low-quality and prone to oxidation.
The next food is Kibbles n' Bits. Again we see that animal fat is used and preserved with BHA. But not only is it used in the animal fat, but it's also used in the kibble itself to extend shelf life!
It's SO important to always flip the bag over and look at the ingredients. One by one. It takes some getting used to at first but once you get into the swing of it then you'll have an essential skill in your back pocket for life!
Not all foods utilize these harmful, dangerous, and toxic ingredients but, many do. Therefore, it is important whether you feed raw or not to be able to analyze a nutrition label to ensure these ingredients aren't sneaking into your pet's food!
As always, thank you so much for stopping by and Always Keep Exploring!