Archive for November 2nd, 2007

Food Safety

I was chatting with a coworker the other day. She’d recently traveled out of the country, and was raving about the food – how fresh everything was, how great it all tasted… It led to a discussion of the nearby farmer’s market, produce availability in our city, etc. Then we started discussing recent food recalls and tainted food.

I began saying (sarcastically) that I avoided all fresh foods – for fear of bacteria, contamination, etc. She was horrified. She said the more foods were processed, the greater the risk of them being tainted. I cited the example of spinach tainted with e coli. She pointed out that spinach was bagged – more processed than fresh spinach. She cited examples of salmonella in peanut butter, etc.

I noted that processed meals, like those single serving frozen meals that are easily microwaved, have lots of nutritional information on them, enabling me to ensure I meet my full nutritional requirements. She was shocked, and exclaimed that fresh foods are much more nutritious than processed, then frozen, then microwaved meals. I speculated microwaving might kill any potential bacteria.

She didn’t realize it, but she was helping me make a point. While no one actually makes the argument I did – that highly processed food is more nutritious for humans than fresh foods and homemade meals – that is EXACTLY what we’re told for our pets. We’re told we are not capable of preparing our pets’ meals, and we must rely on manufacturers to prepare highly processed “instant” meals for them. We’re told fresh food isn’t safe, and may contain bacteria.

Dogs’ nutritional needs aren’t that different than our own. If we prepared healthy meals for ourselves and shared them with our dogs – our dogs would be fed well.

Cats are different, as they are obligate (strict, or true) carnivores. They can’t obtain vitamins and other nutrients from plant matter as we can, and their bodies can’t manufacture some nutrients that ours can. However, it’s still not that difficult. I make almost all my cats’ food. In fact, I just whipped up over 10 pounds after work tonight – took me less than an hour.

I’ve become a food fanatic after watching my own and other cats become incredibly sick after being fed a highly-processed dry kibble diet day in and day out for years. They developed diabetes, gastro-intestinal disorders, kidney disease, urinary tract stones… for some reason, people just accept that these ailments “happen”, and never question the food choice – at least not until the Menu Foods and related recalls killed thousands of pets. Though I’ve worked with many cats and have “cured” several of diabetes or gastro-intestinal problems by simply changing the diet – I’m told this homemade raw diet is “dangerous”.

Even if there is bacteria in raw meat (which obviously there may be), cats’ gastro-intestinal tracts are very different than ours. They’re straight and short. There is perhaps one documented case of cats becoming severely ill from salmonella – two elderly unhealthy unneutered cats owned by a hoarder who fed them tainted meat. There are thousands of cases of cats (and dogs) killed from commercial cat food – Vitamin D overdoses, acute renal failure, chronic renal failure, complications of diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, toxins in the grains…

Next time you think about pouring some dry kibble in a bowl, think about how good your health would be if you ate breakfast cereal for every meal, every day… There are several sites I link to on the right for further information: Feline Outreach, Cat Info, Cat Nutrition, Your Diabetic Cat

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