Answers from Answers Pet Food

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This is the very first article of a soon to be series of articles taking a detailed look at various pet food companies.  Meet Answers Pet Food.

TruthaboutPetFood.com is beginning a new series of articles that will highlight quality minded pet food manufacturers.  This will not be an endorsement, but it will be a way for the quality minded pet food companies to separate themselves from the pack.

Each pet food manufacturer will be responding to the same initial questions, As I was preparing the questions to send to various pet food companies, I received an email from Etty Gorman of Answer Pet Food.  The timing was right, so Answers became our first interview.  More interviews will follow.

Quick Note:  No – this is not an endorsement of any pet food.  I feel choosing a food or style of feeding (kibble, can, raw, home prepared) for your pet is a very personal decision.  No – I or TruthaboutPetFood.com did not receive money for these interviews.  They are posted strictly as a way for pet parents to learn more.  These articles are not meant to be advertisement, they are meant to be information.

Answers Pet Foods are manufactured in Pennsylvania.  All ingredients are sourced from U.S. suppliers with the exception of cinnamon and green tea.  Shelf life is 12 to 18 months properly frozen; 5 to 7 days thawed and refrigerated.  Answers Pet Foods are available nationwide.

Why types of pet food do you produce?  (example: both cat and dog foods, kibble, can, and raw)
Raw diet for dogs and Raw frozen Goats Milk for dogs and cats. Straight Answers (meat grind, 60% muscle, 30% organ and 10% ground bone. Detailed Answers, complete without the use of synthetic vitamins, both are formulas for dogs and our Additional Answers raw frozen goats milk for dogs and cats.

Tell pet parents why they should consider your pet food?   What makes your pet foods different?  Better?
Our products are designed by raw feeders with over 50 years combined  experience feeding raw diets and 7 years experience in the raw food manufacturing industry. Researched and formulated by a food scientist, specializing in the meat and dairy industry. Through experience, research and science, Answers is formulated by design to provide superior nutrition. Answers Pet Food has unique ingredients, like eggs from 100% cage free and pasture fed chickens, kombucha and Azomite®, that bring healing nutrients that no other raw diet provides.

What makes your manufacturing process different?  Better?
No pasteurization or high pressure treatment. We only buy USDA, human grade, inspected meat that has never, ever been treated with antibiotics or hormones. Our facility is equipped with high power grinders allowing Answers to grind the bone to a fine (for small dogs ) safe easily digestible form.

Why do you make the style of pet food you do?  Example – why kibble or why raw dehydrated?
Digestibility. We only provide raw food. Answers pet food understands when food is processed, no matter how good the raw ingredients are the processing creates toxins and allergens and makes it difficult for the dog to digest.

Please provide some of your reasoning for particular ingredients used in your pet foods; example – why chicken versus chicken meal?
Eggs from pasture fed chickens provide every essential nutrient that dogs require, and provide an enhanced immune stimulator, glutathione.  Kombucha provides fermented nutrition, whole food probiotics, prebiotics, and bacteriocins (which naturally protect against pathogens such as E. Coli, Salmonella, Lysteria, Heliobactor pylori). Azomite® provides synergistically balanced minerals that trigger metabolic enzymes and naturally detoxifies heavy metals from the body.

How do you select vendors – suppliers of ingredients?
We carefully research and inspect all of our vendors. We require written affidavits and letters of guarantee from ALL of our suppliers that they are truly adhering to the specifications that we require. We also get copies of all third party audits that are conducted on our suppliers to monitor humane handling and slaughter practices. We ONLY use suppliers who implement and abide by the HFAC (Humane Farmed Animal Care) guidelines. These affidavits and third party audits can be made available to our retailers and end consumers upon request.

What are your routine tests done on ingredients and on the finished product?  Maybe we could supply some of our recent results?    Do you test ingredients for heavy metals?  Fluoride?  Any other contaminants?  Are these results available to the public?
We routinely test our formulas for macronutrient content and about once per year for the complete micronutrient breakdown. We also routinely test for bacterial content, including pathogens. Because our beef suppliers are human grade, and USDA inspected facilities, this is the same beef that will end up in many of the high quality brand meats and burgers a human would purchase at the supermarket or a restaurant. Therefore, ALL our beef is tested for E. Coli O157:H7 before it ever leaves our supplier and ships to our manufacturing facility.

Does your manufacturing facility have any specific certifications?  If so, can you explain why these certifications benefit the pet parent consumer?
Our manufacturing facility is USDA certified and also processes many human meat products. These certifications are a benefit because this means that the facility has an onsite USDA government inspector who is present during most operating hours. This also means that the facility is held to high quality processing standards such as GMPs and HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) to insure that products are processed safely, ingredients are stored and handled correctly and labels and ingredient statements are checked on all end products.

Are your foods manufactured at your own facility or do you use a co-packer?  If you use a co-packer…
(a) Do you choose ingredient suppliers or does the co-packer?

We choose ALL of our own ingredient suppliers. We not only choose all of our suppliers but we personally place all the orders for our raw ingredients.
(b) What measures do you take to assure your co-packer is following your recipe specifications?
Roxanne Stone, our Food Scientist, wrote detailed specifications and QA/QC standards and then spent over a year teaching our manufacturer how to process Answers Pet Food down to every detail.
(c) Do you have a company representative at the co-packer or do you do drop in inspections?
We drop in and attend product runs. We are closely located to our facility and are present for most of our runs.

Has your company done feeding trials of each product before it was released on the market?
Yes.

Official or unofficial feeding trials?
Unofficial and currently doing a Vet feeding trial.

If so, how long were the trials, how many animals participated? 
Official feeding trials use beagle colonies or other facilities that Answers Pet Food feels are not appropriate environments for dogs to live their entire lives and we will not financially support these facilities. The owners of Answers Pet Food have many years of experience in the raw food category and have worked with other raw food manufacturers. The one and only AAFCO nutrient profile is for dry kibble diets and not appropriate for raw diets. AAFCO understands that nutrients like zinc in dry kibble diets are inhibited from being utilized. Only 20 to 25% of the zinc added to dry kibble will be utilized so excessive amounts of zinc are added. In raw diets zinc and other nutrients are not inhibited from being absorbed (in fact absorption is enhanced) and if these nutrients were added at AAFCO requirements it would overdose the dogs in zinc and other trace minerals. Other raw food manufacturers have done AAFCO feeding trials which set the nutrient profiles for complete and balanced for raw diets. Answers Pet Food nutrients are parallel to other raw diets who did the AAFCO feeding trial.

How does your company go above and beyond?
Product protocol then education….  With safety protocol, quality of ingredients, manufacturing processes, and so on. Answers Pet Food goes above and beyond by offering environmentally friendly recyclable packaging. Other raw diets use plastic bags and plastic containers that are not recyclable and leach toxins and heavy metals into the product.

Do you use any genetically modified ingredients?
No.

If yes, what ingredients are GM and why do you use them?  If no, why do you avoid GM and what extremes do you go through to assure your foods are GM free?
We do not support genetically modified organisms in any way. We feel GMO products are insufficiently researched and pose a great threat to our environment, as well as human and pet health. We scrutinize every supplier to assure nothing is sourced from anything genetically modified. It is important to know how to ask the right questions and dig deep into the source of every product to be sure everything is GMO free.

Any other information you’d like to share?
It is important to understand that we at Answers created this product line because we are and have been passionate raw feeders for many years.  Our mission is to be able to provide the healthiest raw diet available that we ourselves use for our loved pets.  We also wanted to help secure that availability through education, research, science and reaching out to the pet owners, by traveling across the country teaching the benefits of raw, whole food diets. The raw diet is no longer the 11th hour resort to recovering a pet’s health, but a way of life.  We are addressing all issues including, proper handling, our convenient green packaging and the positive results from feeding.  Please contact any of the Answers family to answer any other questions you have about our products.  We truly feel people need to ask questions of their manufactures, so they know exactly what is going in their pets bowl.

Thanks to Answers Pet Food for being our first interview.  Your prompt responses are appreciated.

 

Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author, Buyer Beware
Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
TruthaboutPetFood.com
PetsumerReport.com

What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
Is your dog or cat eating risk ingredients?  Chinese imports?  Petsumer Report tells the ‘rest of the story’ on over 2500 cat foods, dog foods,  and pet treats.  30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee. www.PetsumerReport.com

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