Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direct and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.”
– William A Foster.
From day one, we have always been focused on quality and high standards. Our goal is not to be a big pet food company – it is to do things right and produce excellent food products.
Why Does Quality Matter So Much?
Pet parents today have many commercial food options to choose from. Unlike the food you prepare from scratch at home, commercial diets (even raw ones) do undergo some processing and are handled by numerous people, which can have a significant impact on the health, safety and quality of their products. In Canada, there no regulations and a limited number of guidelines for pet food manufacturing, so decisions around safety and quality are left in the hands of the manufacturers. This means that it is up to pet parents to do the research to understand and verify the process and claims made about the products you feed your pet.
We care deeply about the health of animal companions and want to see the fresh food industry grow and improve so more pets can thrive through better nutrition. We know these choices aren’t easy and Red Dog Blue Kat may not be the best fit for you and your pet. But we hope this section and some of our blogs on manufacturing will help demystify pet food manufacturing and help you make health-wise choices that best fit your expectations for your furry family members.
What Quality Means To Us
We know that a healthy diet is more than a collection of nutrients – it starts with whole, high quality ingredients. This includes how the food is combined and processed. We believe this is also the key for defining measurable food quality standards for commercial food products. Below are the key pieces we believe are essential to understanding and measuring the quality of food products:
Food Safety Checklist
Managing The Following Risks:
An Industry Based on Trust
In Canada, the human food supply is one of the safest in the world. However, when it comes to pet food, the regulatory system is mostly based on trust. When pet food is made and sold in Canada, the government trusts the manufacturer, assuming they have crossed all their t's crossed and dotted all their i's. Currently, there are no legislated manufacturing practices or standards to follow, and there are no inspections or verifications required.
To honor that trust, we chose to use human food standards as our benchmark and are committed to continually reviewing and improving our processes. We decided to implement HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) – an internationally recognized food safety program - to ensure that we had clear standards that would be verifiable and transparent to consumers. Just like you would expect that a pilot has a commercial pilot’s license when you board a commercial airliner, you need a method to verify the standards used for producing any commercial food (because commercial manufacturing has many more risks than making food in your own kitchen).
Going Above and Beyond
As part of our HACCP program, we have developed a thorough and well-documented accountable process to prevent a number of safety risks that can occur with food such as cross-contamination, pathogens, spoilage, etc. For example:
We have a comprehensive in-house testing program for detecting risks including a variety of bacteria and molds.
We use bacteriophages and species-specific probiotics, mimicking nature's way of keeping pathogens in check.
Learn more about HACCP from the Canadian Institute of Food Safety, Everything You Need To Know About HACCP
We believe That Great Quality Ingredients Are An Essential Foundation For A Healthy, Good Quality Diet.
No Grains, Fillers or Preservatives
Do we even have to explain this?
"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. We know from studies of human nutrition that processed foods are not as beneficial for health and longevity as fresh, whole foods.
Human Grade Ingredients
Not ALL ingredients that come from federally inspected processing facilities are actually human grade (some are feed grade) or subject to the same inspection criteria. So, we qualify each ingredient to ensure that it meets our standards.
Before we use an ingredient, we ask a very essential question – is this ingredient suitable for a dog or a cat?
Every processing step, no matter how small changes food chemically, biologically, and physically. The optimal diet is one that we prepare in our own kitchen from farm-direct ingredients. All commercial products will undergo some level of processing – even raw. Some processing steps are essential for manufacturing and storing the product, other processing steps are done for esthetic reasons. When it comes to processing steps and health – less is more!
We Focus on Using as Few Processing Steps as Possible, Avoiding Any Processing Steps Don’t Contribute to Quality or Safety:
We process all of our products in a temperature-controlled environment.
We use specialized commercial blenders and grinders for our vegetable processing to ensure maximum nutrient availability for your pet and minimum heat and stress on the raw ingredients.
We process in small batches to minimize processing time.
We DO NOT use high-pressure processing (HPP), pasteurization, irradiation or any other step that may alter natural ingredient food values.
We blast freeze our finished products to preserve nutrients
We vacuum seal to maximize shelf-life and minimize food waste.
Vacuum sealing extends freezer and fridge life
Audited QA Program
Quality issues a result of human error and are inherent to any commercial process. Many people think Food Safety and Food Quality is the same thing.
While our Food Safety ensures that products are free from pathogens and other dangerous substances that can cause illness, Our Food Quality program ensures that the every meal meets your expectations including texture, appearance, correct labeling of ingredients and other nutritional information.
Our Food Quality program also ensures all ingredients are traceable.
To stay true to our value of integrity, we declare every ingredient on our labels that is in that specific bag and do our best to clearly communicate any deviations.
We do our best to inform customers of any product changes.
No Fillers, Additives or
When we think about our own diets, we rarely think about formulas or nutritional panels. We mostly think about eating a variety of fresh ingredients, including fruit, vegetables, proteins, health fats and lots of water. We don’t obsess about grams or individual vitamins, we obsess about including enough colors, diversity and the taste and quality of the ingredients on our plates. In nature, dogs and cats would eat a variety of meat, organs, fur, plants, and even mud to get their full diet.
Beyond The AAFCO Standard
In addition to the Complete and Balanced AAFCO standard, any healthy diet for our pets must include:
Minimal Processing, Maximum Fresh Ingredients
Rotation of a Variety of Meals
Plenty of Moisture in the Food
Balance of Healthy Fats
Often overlooked, dogs and cats are naturally designed to efficiently utilize raw animal fats for energy. But that doesn’t mean their diets should be loaded with fat – the meat that dogs and cats would eat in nature would be fairly lean (under 10%). For more information, we highly recommend reading Steve Brown’s book Unlocking the Ancestral Diet.
This Approach is the Foundation for our Formulation
Species Specific Meals
Dogs and cats have different nutritional requirements based on their natural design. So we design our cat and dog formulas to be the best fit for each species.
Rotational vs Complete Diets
In nature, a healthy diet is achieved over time with a variety of foods including meats, organs, bones, vegetables, and other ingredients. This is what we call a “Rotational” diet. We believe this is the most natural approach for achieving a complete and balanced diet but requires some planning. In contrast, the AAFCO definition of “balanced and complete” is to have the same level of all nutrients in every meal, which generally means feeding the same combination of foods daily- thus limiting food variety.
Our Formulations Include...
Complete & Balanced Meals
We use software to create both the meal formulas and the rotational menus that ensure that the overall diet meets or exceeds AAFCO standards. For more details check Are Red Dog Blue Kat Meals Complete & Balanced.
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