Sunday, August 5, 2012

AVMA's Raw Food Recommendation

In keeping with my series on what to feed your pet here is a timely story sparked by the American Veterinary Medical Association's (AVMA) recent recommendations against feeding raw food.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Hill's Pet Nutrition Center

Me and Dr. Moore at the Kansas
Museum of History

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the Hill’s Pet Nutrition Center in Topeka, Kansas.  Dr. Nicola Moore and I spent 3 days touring the facility, listening to lectures and discussing the pet food industry with the Hill’s team and other veterinarians from around the country.  It was an amazing learning experience and I am now an even bigger fan of Hill’s Prescription and Science Diet foods.

There are so many misconceptions about Hill’s food perpetrated by the Internet, pet food stores and other pet foods.  I have to say I always find it amazing (and more than a little disheartening) when I have a client take the advice of their breeder, an 18 year-old store clerk at Pet Smart or some random website over my professional, medically based opinion.  I know that all pet owners just want to feed their dog or cat the very best thing to keep them healthy and as a veterinarian that is my goal too.  

So here are a few nuggets of info I learned last week that convinced me Hill’s produces a superior product.

Hill’s has five manufacturing plants in the US and two in Europe that produce ninety-five percent of their food.  That other five percent consist of treats and a pouch type food sold in Europe.  Most pet food companies outsource the production of their diets to a third party; this opens the door to quality control issues.  An example of why this is problematic can be seen with the Blue Buffalo recall due to toxic levels of vitamin D found in their foods.  The plant that made these affected lots of food had produced a vitamin D supplement, not cleaned the production line and then processed the Blue Buffalo food resulting in vitamin D toxicity.

Hill's Pet Nutrition Center
 If you are concerned about salmonella contamination as we saw in the 2012 Diamond Pet Food recall you may be interested to learn that in 2008 Hill’s decided to voluntarily test all of their products for salmonella and other food borne pathogens.  Each lot of product is tested and is not released for distribution until the test comes back negative. In addition, Hill’s has their plants graded by an independent inspection company that evaluates human food plants as well.  The Hill’s plants routinely score higher than the plants producing human food!

Hill’s performs rigorous testing and inspecting of all the raw materials they use and will reject an ingredient if it doesn’t meet their standards.  They only use meat and poultry sources from USDA inspected plants to ensure that the animal and the meat it produces are handled correctly and disease free.  In 2007 after the widespread melamine recall that affected many brands of food, Hill’s made the voluntary decision to stop sourcing materials from China*.  Again, many human food production companies do not choose to do this.

I hope I have peaked your interested and demonstrated some of the reasons for why I am loving Hill’s.  Not convinced yet?  There is a lot more to come, stay tuned for info on specific nutrient levels, protein content, the vilified by-product, how they test their products and more.

*Currently they do obtain taurine from China.  This is one of two plants in the world producing this raw ingredient.  The other plant, which they had been using, was destroyed by the 2011 tsunami in Japan.