I can’t even begin to tell you how surprised I was to see a freezer in the pet food aisle of our local country grocery store the other day! My first thought was “shut the front door, they’re selling raw food here now?!”
Freshpet Freezer At Food Lion in NC
Well, almost, but not quite. The freezer in question was filled with dog & cat food made by Freshpet who sell “fresh pet meals”. I had heard the name of the brand somewhere before, but hadn’t taken the time to look into it yet. Since the food was right there in front of me, I figured now would be a good time, so I blindly reached in for one of their rolls.
I grabbed the Freshpet Select Chunky Beef with Vegetables & Brown Rice Dog Food Recipe and couldn’t wait to take a closer look at my personal pièce de résistance, the ingredient list.
What’s In The Freshpet Chunky Beef Roll – Ingredients
Freshpet Select Chunky Beef Ingredients
We’re looking at a total of 16 ingredients and 12 vitamins/minerals. I loved seeing Beef, Chicken, Beef Liver, & Eggs. Awesome, because that means that we’re actually talking about animal protein (as opposed to plant based protein)!
And as far as eggs are concerned – they are a great, inexpensive, and complete source of protein (that’s because they contain all 8 essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein), and they also contain lots of minerals & vitamins: Iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Phosphorus, Calcium, Thiamine, Folate, and Riboflavin.
I’ve dedicated an entire blog post to eggs, so if you’re interested in reading more about the nutritional goodness of the oval shaped chicken product, check it out:
Unfortunately, there were also several ingredients I didn’t love seeing:
Beef Broth. Hm, ok – not sure why beef broth was added (low nutritional value, if any), and I certainly would have liked to see the add-on “low sodium”.
Peas, Carrots. Peas are a plant based protein source which doesn’t come with all of the amino acids found in animal protein sources, and they contain lectins (carbohydrate-binding proteins). They tend to be on the more indigestible side of things, contributing to gas, so I didn’t love seeing that ingredient. I don’t have anything against carrots per se, except the way in which they were included in this recipe: whole pieces of carrot as opposed to pureed ones.
That’s because dogs lack the enzyme necessary to break down plant cell walls, so the only way for them to absorb the nutrients from vegetables and fruits is for us to break those walls down for them, ideally by pureeing them.
If you watch the video promoting Freshpet, you’ll notice that Dr. Katy points out that their food contains fresh vegetables that are visible when slicing the roll. However, that also means that those vegetables have NOT been pureed and that our dogs can’t absorb their nutrients. I suspect that this is done in order to appeal to our human eye.
Brown Rice, Rice Bran, Soy Flour, Carrageenan, Natural Flavors.
I don’t believe in feeding grains because they are of no nutritional value and are known to cause allergies in many dogs, have learned that the vast majority of soy is genetically modified and contains high levels of the pesticide RoundUp (read more on soy in Rodney Habib’s article Soy In Pet Foods: The Unwholesome Truth), carrageenan has harmful gastrointestinal effects on animals, and what exactly are natural flavors (many natural flavors contain MSG, or monosodium glutamate, which is a flavor enhancing excitotoxin, causing dopamine production)?
Why Is Carrageenan Used?
Sliced Freshpet Select Roll
Do you notice that the Freshpet Select roll keeps its shape, even when sliced, in above picture? That’s because carrageenan is a common food additive used as a thickener in processed foods. Apparently it’s a cheap way of keeping a food thick and from falling apart when it’s sliced.
More On Carrageenan
Carrageenan is extracted from the red seaweed Chondrus Crispus aka Irish moss and has no nutritional value.
According to a study (click to read study) presented by Joanne K. Tobacman, MD, associate professor in the department of medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago, carrageenan has harmful gastrointestinal effects on animals (tested on guinea pigs, rats, monkeys, mice, rabbits, and ferrets).
Being a raw feeder, I most definitely understand a dog’s need of calcium for skeletal health (my dogs get raw meaty bones 3-4 times per week), I just wonder where the calcium carbonate is derived from in this recipe?
My guess is that it comes from bone meal. Bone meal is nothing other than ground animal bones which by the way might very well come from roadkill or euthanized livestock.
According to a great article on fellow raw feeder Kimberly Gauthier’s website KeepTheTailWagging.com bone meal
a) is frequently imported from other countries (which ones? maybe China?)
b) is manufactured using high heat which makes it difficult for dogs to digest and gain the phosphorus/calcium benefits, and
c) doesn’t have the perfect phosphorus/calcium ratio
Potassium Chloride, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Choline Chloride, Calcium Pantothenate, Calcium Iodate, Biotin (Vitamin B7 Supplement), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1 Supplement), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2 Supplement), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6 Supplement), Folic Acid (Vitamin B9 Supplement), Niacin (Vitamin B3 Supplement), Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin 12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement
These are a lot of synthetic minerals/vitamins/salts and point towards quite a highly processed food, despite the company’s claim of cooking it at lower temperature than cooking kibble.
The process of cooking food destroys many of the naturally occurring minerals and vitamins that come in the meat and plant sources.
By the way, according to Dogs Naturally Magazine editor in chief, Dana Scott, most synthetic vitamins are manufactured in China. Read more on her insightful article EVERYTHING You Wanted To Know About Choosing A Dog Food.
I Fed My Dogs The Roll I Purchased
In case you were wondering if I did the deed and fed Missy & Buzz the Freshpet Select roll – yes, I did. I paid $5.29 for it after all and applied the concept “waste not, want not”.
Now, let me be very clear, I won’t purchase this line of Freshpet food again, but feeding it once won’t kill the pups. It’s the cumulative exposure to questionable ingredients over months and years that wreaks havoc on our dogs’ immune systems and can ultimately make them very sick and shorten their lifespans.
I fed the roll over the course of about 5 days and mixed it in with the raw food I currently have in the freezer – beef green tripe from Raw Canine Foods and pre-made, balanced ground raw food from Darwin’s Natural Pet Food (duck & chicken).
Freshpet Select Mixed With Beef Green Tripe, Raw Egg, Coconut Oil, Fish Oil, and Kelp Powder
Healthier Freshpet Options
To be fair I do have to mention that Freshpet has several other pet food lines, one of which is actually a raw food line. I didn’t find out about the Vital Raw option until I did some research about the brand online. Vital Raw is grain-free and comes in two protein choices (chicken & beef).
The ingredient list is still longer than I’m used to seeing in the raw food brands I order and have ordered from (Darwin’s, Raw Paws Pet Food, Balanced Blends, Raw Feeding Miami), but it is certainly a vast improvement over the gently cooked Freshpet Select roll I purchased.
I checked to see if our grocery store carries the raw line, but unfortunately it’s not part of their featured products. From what I’ve read online it would seem like the larger pet retail stores like PetCo and PetSmart are the only stores that sell the Vital Raw.
Ok, so I wasn’t overly impressed with the ingredient list of the Freshpet Select roll given that it contains a lot of synthetic supplements and unnecessary ingredients I don’t want my dogs to be exposed to on a regular basis.
I personally wouldn’t buy it again and would also not recommend to feed it on a daily basis.
However, let’s not overlook the fact that the healthier pet food movement DOES seem to be growing. Finding a freezer filled with refrigerated pet food in a rural grocery store that sells the cheapest, crappiest pet food imagineable is a clear indicator of where the billion dollar pet food industry is headed.
I can’t wait to see what the pet food market will look like five and ten years from now!
Have you come across any of the Freshpet food lines? As always, we’d love to hear from you in our comment section!