ImageThere is a growing trend world-wide towards natural and organic food for humans and animal alike. With this in mind many commercial pet food companies are jumping on the bandwagon and try align themselves with this up and coming lucrative market by making claims that their pet food is natural and holistic.

Specifically, we often find that the pet food labels claim that their food is “naturally preserved” or contains only “natural preservatives”. But are these natural preservatives “natural” and more importantly can they claim to be totally safe?

Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E are the main preservatives used in order to claim that your food is natural, even if it is in the form of a kibble or canned. Obviously, frozen food need not be preserved as freezing is already a natural preservative.

Pet food manufacturers now use ‘mixed tocopherols’ (a claimed source or form of vitamin E), citric acid, beta-carotene and Rosemary extract as preservatives. However, high levels of vitamin E, the most widely used antioxidant in pet foods today, can disrupt the activity of the other fat soluble vitamins, namely vitamin K (menadione), vitamin A (retinol), and vitamin D (calciferol)

Vitamin C, as synthetic ascorbic acid, can even be dangerous in mega doses and yet it is a very common “natural” preservative. Vitamins in their isolated and synthetic form can stimulate or suppress various systems of the body and can lead to biochemical imbalances. This covers up the symptoms allowing a given disease process to remain unchanged or progressively worsen.

The naming of your brand or food can also be deceptive. For example, as a pet food manufacturer you may get into trouble if you claim that your food is natural and pure. But if the name of your product includes the words “natural” or “pure”, then that is permitted. Even with human products, food or cosmetics, this is a tactic that is often employed. A well known retailer is currently under investigation for marketing a range of cosmetics in this way, under the label, “natural”, when clearly the list of ingredients has a high chemical content.

Even a well known pet food managed to fool the consumers by calling their dried food “holistic” because it was in the name. However, when one looks at the label, all the ingredients remained the same, except they included a small quantity of spirulina. This certainly does not make them holistic or natural.

The highest quality of nourishment comes from whole natural and enzyme-active foods that are not refined, processed, cooked or laden with preservatives.  The challenge is to understand your pet food labels and ingredients so that you can best decide what is truly natural, free of preservatives and nutritious for your beloved companion animal.