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Pet Food Animal Testing

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  1. Katey

    How about all the vitamin packs added to pet food that have all been tested on animals?

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      I’ve not done the research on testing of vitamin packs – I can only imagine.

  2. rottlady

    testing in a kennel situation is not all bad. Companies are allowed to build a pet food based on a nutrition profile. Do you really want a food that may have never been fed to a dog before???
    Natura adopts out their test dogs to pet homes every so many months and starts again with new ones. Their kennels are nicer than many boarding kennels

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      Testing in a kennel situation is not all good either. And 2 companies have proved it doesn’t need to be in a kennel situation at all.

      1. Dan

        rottlady is exactly right and once again Susan is out of her element. Susan is the queen of uneducated guesses and assumptions. I’ve toured several of these kennels. These animals live long, happy lives playing with other dogs. Picture that versus living in homes of people who work 50 hour weeks and are never home. Which is most cases. Picture those scenarios and tell me which is better for the animal. Not to mention, the dogs and cats in these kennels would be euthanized if they weren’t there. Susan Thixton wants to euthanize thousands of healthy, happy animals. Try to write an article where you actually know what you are writing about. Fine, you have a problem with kibble companies. But this article so off base. If you actually had knowledge, you would see that these animals are in a great situation. Maybe focus on families who adopt dogs but can’t afford to feed them. That seems like a more of an actual problem to solve.

        1. Susan Thixton Author

          Wow Dan – you sure know how to throw out insults don’t you?
          Just to be clear – you are so wrong…so wrong.

        2. Pacific Sun

          Oh gosh, there’s a viewer “Dan” and (notice I didn’t say Reader) who’s feeling the pinch from truthful reporting! If the article is to be underestimated in the first place, then why worry about it all. Susan doesn’t write in a vacuum. When an author gets to this point of readership and scope (with many subject matter experts looking over her shoulder) content can’t be made up, or exaggerated, or there would be plenty of facts and EVIDENCE to refute the discussion. In fact, a lot of “insiders” contribute to the foundation of stories. And that’s how they arise.

          As a casual viewer it’s easy to say you’ve toured several kennels. My Breeder has a kennel. I know lots of Breeders. I’ve been to many. But which ones, and under what circumstances are you referring to for scientific purposes? The big PF companies aren’t stupid. They have to know the effect of their food on animals. The real effect. Yes, Hill’s has a purpose and provides a service. The point is, especially since they’re in the “therapeutic” business, they could be doing a whole lot better in support of Vets and Clients. Meaning they be a LEADER in promoting the best, most wholesome and honest ingredients as possible! Why treat an ill pet with 4-D protein? Or with canned PF subjected to Endotoxins? Especially over half the lifetime of that animal??

          Let’s clear up this argument first, before going on to other subjects. If it is ILLEGAL to use 4-D rendered protein, then why are PF Companies doing so? (Please see the prior series of TAPF articles for answers). Then we can move on to kennel situations and testing. Which MIGHT have a purpose if Companies could show actual data on animals THRIVING on their formulas, rather than just not dying outright from them! But we never see 10 year, 15 year studies published. And certainly, data could be extracted from Vet Owners and Professionals’ using controlled home-life situations, with aging dogs to help contribute to such studies, no?

          The second part of the argument is just ridiculous. By analogy it’s being argued that individuals in a force communal setting, because they happen to be interacting among themselves, instead of in individual environments, are better off. And if they weren’t there, they might be dead. Wh’hat!? Isn’t the point of Shelters to transfer animals from communal settings INTO homes? And how does anyone know if or when a dog is “happy” whether or not it’s playing with other dogs? The dogs are occupied and doing what comes naturally, yes. But assigning emotions (for the purpose of this discussion) is pushing it.

          I think Susan’s purpose in life is to save pets’ lives! Not only is it insulting, but to use the phrase “Susan wants to euthanize thousands of healthy, happy animals” just shows you are a malcontent, seriously affected by the content of TAPF. Who has just “dropped in” for a convenient and idle comment. Please don’t demean the author in that way. Finally, (and seriously) I would challenge you or anyone, to write the same number of TAPF articles for nearly a decade, with only 1/10th of the detailed, substantiated content to which we, the Readers, have been provided! Particularly because the website is completely free of advertising and absolutely profit-LESS! Good luck with that.

  3. Monica

    Susan

    I am a Veterinary technician and animal lover and I ooppose the use of animals for testing BUT:
    1) If you feed a food that is not AAFCO tested, there is nk way to know if the animal can maintain its weight on it.
    2) I do not know about other companies, but I have visited the Hill’s facilities where they do the testing. . I was completely impressed with what I saw; The dogs have indoor/outdoor enclosures and they are free to come and go as they please. The cats have huge rooms with solariums, tunnels, bird fountains, high perches, etc. ( my cats never go outside and these cats have a much better setting than my cats at home do ). I saw employees taking random pets to their offices to play with during the day. They have technicians whose job is to come in and play with and brush the animals. I saw this with my own eyes and absolutely all the animals looked completely happy.

    Whereas a lot of information in your article is true, you must distinguish between feeding trials done at Hill’s for example versus other places.

    The majority of the cats and dogs that we see sick at the hospital that come in with kidney failure, bladder stones, etc. are eating formulated and non AAFCO- feeding trial diets. Formulated diets usually have excess nutrients and can cause or exacerbate disease .

    I think you need to be very careful because a lot of your readers might go into a panic thinking that all AAFCO – tried food is horrible and promotes animal abuse.

    Nowadays, even purchasing fake handbags is promoting animal abuse, as the Chinese are using cat and dog hides to make them. Even the little furry mice that you buy at the Petsmart for cats are made out of cat or dog hides.

    It seems to me after reading a couple of your articles that you have a personal problem with AAFCO. Please do not disperse incomplete information. You have a lot of emotional readers and many come into to Animal Hospitals in a panic because of things they have a read on your postings that are not 100% accurate.

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      I have an issue with regulatory authorities not enforcing law – that is not specific to AAFCO, FDA, or State Department of Agriculture. I think the majority of my readers feel the same. I am not out-to-get anyone – I want law enforced and pet food to be safe.
      My guess would be – that the Hill’s facility that you saw was one that is meant to be seen. What about all the other facilities that are not in public view? I assume there are some that are decent, but I assume that most are not. I base that assumption on many years of talking to pet food company employees.
      You stated that you see sick animals in your hospital that are eating AAFCO formulated diets as well as non-formulated…doesn’t that tell you that AAFCO nutrient profiles are not perfect? Feeding trials are not perfect either – they only last for 26 weeks and the animals are tested for very minimal things. Actually several can die in the feeding trial and it not effect the outcome.

    2. Trouble

      Monica,

      I’m curious to know, when you went to visit the Hill’s facility where they do the feeding trials/testing, were you ‘invited’ to visit their facility, or did you just arrange the visit yourself, without any prompting from them?

  4. Monica

    You cannot have a 100% accurate testing in someone’s house. The food needs to be the only source of nutrition and we all know owners are not compliant 90% of the time

    I saw mixed breed dogs at the Hill’s facility; it is obvious those dogs do not come from companies that sell them for research. As far as the cats is concerned, I know some of those cats have been rescued from laboratories from the universities and there are litters of kittens that were not purchased either; I asked all those questions when I was there. I know of dogs that were adopted by the employees also.

  5. Monica

    I said that the pets that get sick are eating formulated, not Feed tested diets. AAFCO is just a regulatory body. It is up to the pet food company if they want to go the extra mile and do the right thing or not.

    There is only one facility at Hills and that is the one I visited; there is nothing hidden. As a matter of fact, PETA even went through it and it passed their standards with flying colors.

    There are companies that sell pet food and there are companies that promote pet nutrition. The companies that just sell pet food, are not knowledgeable about pet nutrition, obviously. Those are the ones that do feeding trials where pets get sick and die. For example, a raw food feeding trial done in California where cats passed away from heart issues due to malabsorption of taurine from the diet. The food had taurine added to it, but that raw food company doesn’t know about nutrition. Adding nutrients or vitamins is not enough; you have to know the percentages of other nutrients that will diminish or increase absorption of others.

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      AAFCO is not a regulatory body. They have no regulatory duties what-so-ever. AAFCO writes model bills which become state law.
      You are right – there are companies that just sell pet food…but there are others that ONLY ‘sell’ nutrition. A highly processed pet food using ingredients whose legal definitions allow them to be sourced from dead/diseased/dying/disabled animals – is not nutrition, at least not in my opinion.
      The study you cited was NOT a raw pet food study – you are referencing the Pottenger study. Actually the study showed that cooked foods lacked taurine. Raw meats naturally contain taurine – only heavily cooked diets, such as kibble – need taurine supplements. To me – promoting pet nutrition would be pet foods that do not violate law and pet foods that are minimally processed.

  6. Monica

    Owners are not compliant 90% of the time. I can tell you that from working at a clinic. Ask any veterinarian or any veterinary staff; the silent killer of any treatment is the owner noncompliance ask any veterinarian or any veterinary staff; the silent killer of any treatment is the owner noncompliance Owners never follow recommendations and never do what they are supposed to do. And please do not take this personally, I am just talking generally. I making the point that in order for you to have an accurate feeding trial, you have to have it in controlled environments. No experiments are done in chemists’ homes either. Science requires a controlled environment to rule out influences that will affect the outcome of a test, any test

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      But there are thousands and thousands of drug trials that are performed on those humans you call ‘non-compliant 90% of the time’. How can drugs be approved by this means – not in laboratory setting – and pet food not be tested for nutritional adequacy the same way? Using pets in homes – is to me – the only humane way to do it.

    2. soldiermom1

      I am a pet owner, both dogs and a cat. If I take my pet to my favorite vet and pay me hard earned money you can bet your life that I am going to follow her instructions to the letter. So I don’t think it is fair to make blanket statements that owners don’t follow their vet’s instructions. Sorry, but you sound like some sort of authority on most everything.

      1. Anthony Hepton

        If you follow the recommendations of your vet to the letter, you must live with the consequences. Not all vets have their customers best interest as their primary objective, they are in business to make money, part of that money is the mark-up they receive on products from the pet food and drug industries. We all need to educate ourselves in areas where we spend our hard earned money. Read what Susan has to say and learn where you can, rather than assume she has a sinister agenda.

      2. Holly

        ‘Follow her instructions to the letter’? Seriously? I like my vets, and I have great admiration for them, but I would never do everything they suggest I do. I recently brought an elderly cat to have her teeth cleaned. She was a stray, and I’ve only had her 1 year. I know nothing of her vaccination history, but I suspect that, over her long life, she has had numerous vaccinations. The receptionist tried to get me to give her a rabies booster. When I said no, she brought up the state’s requirement for rabies. I told her that, for their own peace of mind, they could run a rabies titer if they wanted. Why would I have my cat vaccinated when she was going to be anesthetized, and possibly have teeth extracted? Before you comment that that was the receptionist, not the vet, I’m sure she has been instructed to check all client’s charts to see if the pet is ‘up to date’ on it’s vaccinations. We have to be our pet’s advocates, and question vets when we don’t understand or feel as if something isn’t right.

        1. Trouble

          Holly,

          I know exactly what you mean about the whole vaccination thing. It’s unfortunate that dirty looks and comments I receive from the vet (not the receptionist, in my case) because I refuse to have my dog given unnecessary vaccinations. I also made the comment to my vet about them doing titer tests on the vaccines they wanted to give her….the cost for their titer testing, for ONE vaccine? They wanted to charge me anywhere from $250 to $350, depending on the vaccine. In my head, I was telling them where they could shove those vaccines, and their titer tests… Hahaha. It’s sad that they charge clients out the ass for the titer tests, because they would rather vaccinate the pets, because it’s more money in their pocket. Why run a titer test that could show that the pet is fully vaccinated for something, for years to come, when instead…. Let’s have them bring their pets in EVERY YEAR for these vaccines they probably don’t need!

          It’s a bunch of bullocks, if you ask me… I listen to my vet, I’m not completely anti-veterinarian and whatnot, but… like most things in life, you have to weed through what’s said, and fish out the BS and ignore it, while retaining the actual good input they give, that has your pet’s health and best interest at heart (if such input is given….blegh, lol).

      3. Interested

        I’m both grateful to my Vet (he owns the Practice) and yet vigilant of my dogs. As one dog got older (when maybe some would’ve given up) my Vet was very supportive of my care, and love for him! From a friend the dog accidentally got the wrong food and the result was a pancreatitis attack. As part of the treatment, to be helpful the Vet suggested a Prescription PF. Thankfully, due to 8 years of TAPF, the ingredients were questionable. So for the recovery period we agreed on a bland carb, zero fat, good (fish) protein diet. And to monitor his values with a blood panel. Being a much older dog he wouldn’t have survived at all without my Vet’s immediate intervention! Yet long term (and he lived for almost another 2 years) the dog returned to “his” normal with home cooked and raw food.

        By the same token, when I needed to board him at the Vet (when he was 15 yrs.), the Practice couldn’t accept him without revaccinating him first. If I didn’t already trust the Vet, yes it might’ve been an attempt to make some money. Except it was actually an employee insurance issue.

        What I would say to Monica and other Readers, is this. Nothing is perfect (or black and white) in this world. Some of it is about compromise, a lot of it is asking questions and finding answers (like here on TAPF and I am particularly grateful to Anthony Hepton’s major contributions), and the third part is experience. Nobody can know your pet like you do. You have an instinct for what’s right, so gather information, and follow your gut! Fresh/Raw is preferable to Commercial. Nutrition/Diet rotation is a good hedge on bets. And WORK with a Professional for testing and understanding treatment options until you find reassurance! And if a Professional can’t accept your “interaction” with them, then find somebody who will.

  7. Someguy

    I don’t follow my vets instruction, because I want to break the cycle of illness and disease. I feed raw, I supplement whole food sources, I don’t vaccinate, use heart worm or flea/tick remedies and the only time I go to my vet is for wellness checks, titer tests etc. Quite frankly, vet techs are nothing more than vaccine pushers, and my vet hasnt had nutrition training in decades, and the education he has had was paid for and presented by big dog food.

  8. Laurie Raymond

    Feeding trials — the “gold standard” for AAFCO compliance — last 6 months, and to pass, 85% of the cohort must emerge at the end alive and without measurable pathologies attributable to nutrition. Hmmm… Isn’t it a wonder that humans, who never eat 100% of the same processed, manufactured “diets,” aren’t dropping like flies because they, poor deprived things, only eat a variety of non-scientifically formulated foods, in varying proportions, all their lives? Wake up, people. The only safe and wholesome food for pets is safe, clean, whole, species-appropriate foods, in a wide variety, prepared as meals and roughly balanced on, say, a weekly basis. The only creatures on the planet who eat manufactured “diets” every day all their lives are pets — and livestock, destined to be eaten, and not to thrive for a natural lifespan, or even live to a small percentage of the species’ natural lifespan. We want the impossible when we clamor for companies to manufacture wholesome, species-appropriate food that comes in a bag and can be fed alone for a lifetime. How can anyone think this would be a good idea? Or even a possibility?

    1. barbara m.

      Thanks, Laurie, for the reality check. Yes, the formulated pet food…reminiscent of the Army’s MREs – Meal, Ready-to-Eat. Or Meals Refused by the Enemy, and so on. The Army only intended them to be eaten for 21 days, even though they are supposed to be “nutritionally balanced”. The beef stew has been compared to dog food. I see some similarities here regarding scientifically formulated food.
      As to feeding trials… if anyone is interested, the U.S. Army is asking for volunteers to eat MREs and nothing but, for three weeks.

  9. Interested

    From: Pet Food and Animal Testing: A Horror Story
    http://www.crueltyfreekitty.com/pets/cruelty-free-pet-food/
    October 22, 2015
    HIGHLIGHT: Pet Food & Regulations: The thing is, nothing ever has to be tested on animals. Not even pet food. But pet food is highly regulated in the US by the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Organization). In addition to the nutritional analysis, the food has to be fed to live animals. This is called a “feeding trial”. Feeding Trials in Laboratories: In 2003, an undercover PETA investigator filmed dreadful footage inside a feeding trial laboratory. The animal testing was commissioned by renowned industry giant Iams. The footage shows sick, neglected suffering cats and dogs confined to small cages. Dogs were thrown on the floor after their vocal chords were cut off and their back-leg muscles removed. A dog was found dead, bleeding from his mouth in his cage. The footage also showed laboratory workers talking about a live cat that had been washed down the drain. (You can read the full story via Uncaged.) Has anything changed since? Yes and no. Thankfully the conditions are better, which isn’t to say they’re ideal.

    The following pet food brands still conduct laboratory feeding trials and/or test on animals in other ways. They are not cruelty-free.
    • Iams (owned by Procter & Gamble)
    • Hill’s Science Diet (owned by Colgate-Palmolive)
    • Pedigree (owned by Mars)
    • Purina (owned by Nestle)
    • Friskies (owned by Nestle)
    • Natural Balance
    • Blue Buffalo
    • Whiskas (owned by Mars)
    • Eukanuba (owned by Mars)
    • Sheba
    • Bakers Complete (owned by Nestle)

    to be continued in another comment

  10. Interested

    HUMANE FEEDING TRIALS: Today, some companies choose not to conduct feeding trials on laboratory animals. These companies provide cruelty-free dog and cat food. To be in compliance with the AAFCO, these smaller, alternative trials must adhere to the following rules:
    • conducted on at least 8 healthy dogs, of at least 1 year old (only 6 need complete the trial)
    • the trial must run for at least 26 weeks
    • the dogs must only eat the trial food, and their daily consumption must be recorded
    • the dogs’ weight be tracked weekly and they must undergo blood tests throughout the trial

    Since these trials are not performed on laboratory animals, they do not involve animal testing. Some companies’ employees will sometimes volunteer their pets for feeding trials. The pets will be weighed daily, but there’s otherwise no change of lifestyle involved.

    The companies below don’t use laboratory animals as part of their feeding trials. They only perform humane and non-invasive feeding trials. For cruelty-free dog food, try list of pet food companies that don’t test on animals.
    • Almo Nature
    • The Honest Kitchen
    • Weruva
    • Flinch River Ranch
    • Halo, Purely For Pets
    • Yarrah
    • Solid Gold
    • V-Dog
    • Stella & Chewy’s
    • Nutri-Vet
    • Burns
    • Pooch & Mutt
    • Fish4Dogs
    • Happy Dog Food
    • Holistic Blend
    • Newman’s Own Organics
    • CaniSource
    • Fromm Family Foods
    • Pet Guard
    • Feline’s Pride
    • Oma’s Pride
    • Dr. Harvey’s
    • Primal Pet Foods
    • Dingonatura
    • Dynamite Marketing
    • Timberwolf Organics
    • Artemis Pet Food
    • Pet Chef Express
    • PoshNosh
    • Bravo Raw Diet
    • Raw Advantage
    • Azmira Holistic Animal Care
    • Sojourner Farms
    • Sauder Feeds
    • Veterinary Nutritional Formula
    • Wysong Professional Diets

    This information is from the article originally referenced, and is independent of the TAPF. Am not connected to any product or website.

    1. CK

      Glad to see Honest Kitchen on that list, it wasn’t clear on their web site.

  11. Kathryn S

    Feeding trials, to ‘prove’ nutritional sufficiency would necessitate extensive testing over a prolonged period of time; taste/scent acceptance is a whole different issue, and could well be accomplished in a home/non sequestered environment.
    Just weighing a dog is NO criteria for nutritional adequacy.
    Too much Calcium, out of balance with Vit D3 and Phos. can cause permanent bone problems – especially in giant breed dogs; Too much or too little of any nutritional requirement can, over a period of time, cause permanent damage to the body. Even when we (humans) feed ourselves – with non-processed foods that we ‘prepare’ at home, we are not necessarily getting a ‘nutritionally’ complete and balanced diet – far from it – that’s why there are compounded products called ‘vitamin/mineral pills’ on the market, and why the animal feed companies have to add supplements to their products — whether it’s Honest Kitchen or Old Roy!
    AAFCO has established what nutrients animals need in their foods, and [supposedly] review the ingredients in various products to determine if those products meet the nutritional requirements for dogs/cats/horses/cattle, etc. They have nothing to do with ‘quality’ – only that the quantity meets the minimum requirements of that species for it’s age. Most of you may be too young to remember the original ‘Checkerboard Farms’ — a huge kennel for the testing of Purina dog foods — which at that time consisted of ‘Purina Dog Chow’ and their newly introduced ‘Puppy Chow’ … it was NOT the lush rolling green hills and verdant pastures it is today — it was truly a huge laboratory of purpose bred beagles; In the late 50’s, early 60’s even then it got some ‘bad press’ for the conditions. ‘Nuf said. Things are very different now due to the Lab Animal Act and the USDA AWA. One – the number of animals in trials has been significantly reduced, and the length of the trials has significantly been shortened, not perfect by any means, but better. — which makes me wonder ?? are these tests really valid — if only 26 weeks what will it show? how will they determine if the lack of Vit D, or excess of Protein, or or or is going to cause a problem when/if the subject lives to be 10 years old? REAL Feeding trials for actual nutritional adequacy cannot be accomplished in 26 weeks.

  12. Heidi D

    I sure hope Monica is still reading these responses. There are some well written posts written by people who honestly care about the animals eating the food and properly performed studies. For the record, I gave up on kibble and wet food after noting ill health, anecdotally, in my aging dogs. I choose to feed them a home prepared raw diet. Their improved health is obvious.

  13. Holly

    Someone on Blue Buffalo’s FB page once asked Blue Buffalo is they do feeding tests, and if so, how. Their answer was that they feed the food to shelter animals, as palatability tests. I’m not sure we can believe everything PETA says.

  14. mary jane

    Please provide a more complete list of those companies that test in laboratory kennels and those that do not. I am intersted in Ojijen, Acana and Canidae dog foods

  15. mary jane

    I would like to know if you know anything about Orijen, Acana and Canidae and Natural Balance dog food

    1. alphadog

      Something in Natural Balance’s ingredients made me say no to that one. My cats hated Felidae so I figure Canidae is no better. I think Acana is good, my dogs do well on it anyway. Orijen is real pricey, I need to eat too!

    2. Interested

      The TAPF article recommends looking on the Pet Food label (near Guaranteed Analysis) to see if it says: ‘Meets the nutritional requirements of cats/dogs as established in AAFCO Feeding Trials or Feeding Tests or Feeding Protocols.” If so, CALL or EMAIL the company asking: “Were feeding trials performed on animals in kennels/laboratories or were they performed on pets in homes?” Providing detailed lists are time consuming, but as a fellow Reader being curious about these brands, the internet provided the following:

      https://sites.google.com/site/naturalbalancepetfoodsinc/
      “Natural Balance® was built on the premise of helping animals, and we have never nor would we ever allow any testing that would be considered harmful to an animal. We do not conduct laboratory testing on animals, whatsoever. All of our feeding trials are conducted in the animal’s own environment, in conjunction with veterinarians, kennels, breeders and pet owners, to ensure that all Natural Balance® products are extremely palatable, nutritious and the best possible formulation for the health of your pet. Our feeding trials are a positive experience and enjoyable for animals!”

      http://www.orijen.ca/faq/
      Orijen and Acana are both Champion Foods, and according to their FAQ, “This is a question we’re asked a lot, and our position on animal testing is simple – we conduct only those tests in which we would allow our own companion dogs and cats to participate. If it’s not OK for our dogs and cats, THEN IT’S NOT OK FOR ANY OTHER CATS AND DOGS.” “We perform only non-invasive tests, which include palatability (taste), urine pH, digestibility (the latter through stool analysis only) and AAFCO feeding trials.”

      http://dealers.canidae.com/customer-care/support/faqs/ From Canidae’s FAQ: “No. CANIDAE neither conducts nor condones any inhumane laboratory live animal testing. After many years of making pet food and over a million tons a month being fed without incident worldwide, we have passed the real world test without harming or inhumanely caging a single dog or cat.”

      1. mary jane

        Interested – thank you very much for the info. Where did you find it? So helpful. Everyone else responded with facebook type posts!

  16. Holly

    About 25 years ago I started working for an upstate New York newspaper. Marshall BioResources is located between Syracuse and Rochester on Lake Ontario. When I found out about Marshall, I was sickened at the thought of beagles being raised for research and testing and talked with the health reporter. The reporter said he would check with the laboratory a couple of times a year and found nothing wrong with its business practices. He said you or I might not like that kind of business but … . He said the dogs live in cages and are shipped all over the world for testing purposes. The thought still makes me nauseous.

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