Food Grade

The big news in dog nutrition has been the contamination of most dog foods who received ingredients produced in China. At first it was thought that the contamination was confined to rice protein; a common filler in dog foods. The rice protein was found to be contaminated with melamine, an industrial chemical used to make plastics and fertilizers. This chemical has lead to illness or fatalities in animals. But it turns out that the rice protein wasn’t always rice, but often wheat gluten massed produced and passed off as rice protein. This melamine has contaminated not only food for pets, but also food for fish farms producing salmon, tilapia, cod and other farmed seafood in both Canada and the U.S. The levels of melamine in the fish are being monitored and most pet food producers have pulled their products containing rice protein or wheat gluten.

The good news is that this should spur the pet food producers to formulate their products with less fillers. But many pets were sickened and some died from the contamination. The Chinese government is reeling from the outrage heard round the world from pet owners. An investigation showed a high-ranking official took bribes so that inspections of the rice protein and wheat gluten were fabricated. This official has since been executed by beheading.

But what should an owner do to find a contaminate-free dog food? Matthew Coriaty of Merck & Co.’s Environmental Monitoring came up with a way to grade your pet’s food and posted it to the internet. Below is the test. How does your dog food rank?

How to grade your dog’s food:
Start with a grade of 100:
1) For every listing of “by-product”, subtract 10 points
2) For every non-specific animal source (“meat” or “poultry”, meat, meal or fat) reference, subtract 10 points
3) If the food contains BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin, subtract 10 points
4) For every grain “mill run” or non-specific grain source, subtract 5 points
5) If the same grain ingredient is used 2 or more times in the first five ingredients (i.e. “ground brown rice”, “brewerâs rice”, “rice flour” are all the same grain), subtract 5 points
6) If the protein sources are not meat meal and there are less than 2 meats in the top 3 ingredients, subtract 3 points
7) If it contains any artificial colorants, subtract 3 points
8 ) If it contains ground corn or whole grain corn, subtract 3 points
9) If corn is listed in the top 5 ingredients, subtract 2 more points
10) If the food contains any animal fat other than fish oil, subtract 2 points
11) If lamb is the only animal protein source (unless your dog is allergic to other protein sources), subtract 2 points
12) If it contains soy or soybeans, subtract 2 points
13) If it contains wheat (unless you know that your dog isn’t allergic to wheat), subtract 2 points
14) If it contains beef (unless you know that your dog isn’t allergic to beef), subtract 1 point
15) If it contains salt, subtract 1 point

Extra Credit:
1) If any of the meat sources are organic, add 5 points
2) If the food is endorsed by any major breed group or nutritionist, add 5 points
3) If the food is baked not extruded, add 5 points
4) If the food contains probiotics, add 3 points
5) If the food contains fruit, add 3 points
6) If the food contains vegetables (NOT corn or other grains), add 3 points
7) If the animal sources are hormone-free and antibiotic-free, add 2 points
8 ) If the food contains barley, add 2 points
9) If the food contains flax seed oil (not just the seeds), add 2 points
10) If the food contains oats or oatmeal, add 1 point
11) If the food contains sunflower oil, add 1 point
12) For every different specific animal protein source (other than the first one; count “chicken” and “chicken meal” as only one protein source, but “chicken” and "" as 2 different sources), add 1 point
13) If it contains glucosamine and chondroitin, add 1 point
14) If the vegetables have been tested for pesticides and are pesticide-free, add 1 point

94-100+ = A 86-93 = B 78-85 = C 70-77 = D <70 = F