Should Organic Pet Foods include Synthetic Amino Acids?
The lobby organization that represents “98% of the dog and cat food sold in the United States” has petitioned the National Organic Program. What they are petitioning for, is the approval of synthetic amino acids in organic pet foods. Why should organic pet foods be allowed to include synthetic amino acids? There is no valid reason why.
Personally, synthetic and organic don’t blend together. Organic, to me, should be held to a higher standard; pure, free of synthetic…sort of like how Mother Nature intended. But it seems that the Pet Food Institute (PFI) doesn’t agree. They have petitioned the National Organic Standards Board requesting synthetic amino acids to be allowed in organic pet foods.
“We request the amendment of 205.603(d) of the National Organic Standards to include required amino acids as synthetic substance allowed for use in organic pet food production on behalf of all Organic pet food producers in the U.S.” Signed by Nancy Cook (Nancy Cook is the PFI representative present at all AAFCO meetings).
What are amino acids and why should they be synthetic?
Simply put, “Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. They band together in chains to form the stuff from which your life is born. Think of amino acids as Legos for your life.” There are 10 amino acids that a pet food requires (known as ‘essential amino acids). Dietary sources of these essential amino acids – taken directly from the PFI petition (page 44) are: beef, poultry, seafood, eggs, lamb (and more).
In other words, common pet food ingredients are the perfect source of essential amino acids. Thus, there is no valid reason they should be synthetic. Food provides them.
The PFI petition blames the manufacturing process of pet food as the reason for the need to add them sythetically…
“For example, the heat required during processing to meet the food safety requirements for commercially manufactured food products also decreases the bioavailability of several endogenous amino acids – particularly taurine. Accordingly, additional incremental amounts of these nutrients must be added to commercially manufactured products.”
But…“Animal meat is a good source of taurine. Mechanically deboned beef contains about 197 mg taurine per kilogram of dry weight. Beef liver contains about 2.359 g taurine per kilogram of dry weight. Lamb contains about 3.676 g taurine per kilogram of dry weight and chicken liver contains about 6.763 g taurine per kilogram of dry weight, according to a UC Davis study reported in the “Journal of Animal Physiology” in 2003.”
So, I guess we can safely assume, the manufacturing process of some pet foods destroys the amino acids…thus these pet foods must replace what their own processing destroyed in order to provide a ‘balanced diet’.
But just because some pet foods cook ingredients so heavily it destroys the natural amino acids, does that make it acceptable practice for all pet foods – especially organic pet foods – to include synthetic amino acids?
Not according to one pet food manufacturer (that requested not to be identified)…“There’s NO reason why any manufacturer should need to add any amino acid to any pet food if that pet food contains MEAT proteins that haven’t been destroyed by over processing or are simply not of the quality that the manufacturer claims. Meat products (the type that the average consumer would expect — NOT the kind that AAFCO has re-defined for labels) are Amino Acid banks, and real meat ingredients in food (even as little as 30%-35% of the total product) EXCEEDS National Research Council AND AAFCO requirements for dogs & cats in all life stages.
This request is a direct attempt to be able to carry the practice of augmentation (replacing a required component in food with a cheaper, mass-produced alternative) into the organic market. And, it strongly indicates how much this practice must pervade the production of non-organic food. Nutrition deficiencies from processing, inferior ingredient sources, product age and mishandling are covered up by cheap, substitute augmentation. And, if you read the report you’ll see that MOST of the producers of these amino acids are in China.”
Below are the amino acid providers that were listed in the PFI petition…
Ajinomoto Heartland LLC
Changshu Yudong Chemical Company
Changshu City, China
Qianjiang Yongan Pharmaceutical Co., LTD
Changshu Yudong Chemical Company
Jungshu Province, China
Zone Industrielle Grasbesch
G.D. de Lusombourg
New Zealand Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
For 117 pages, the PFI petition goes on and on about the danger to pets if they don’t receive a balanced diet including the essential amino acids. They provide page after page of toxicity information on each amino acid, physical properties, the chemical abstract numbers for each amino acid petitioned, information from the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and OSHA. And safety information from the National Institute of Environmental Health Studies. But they never explained why some pet foods find no need to add synthetic amino acids and others do.
If you find it unacceptable for organic pet foods to be allowed to include synthetic amino acids, please send a brief message to a member of the National Organic Program.
The following is what I’ve sent…
This message is in response to a petition to the National Organic Program regarding the potential to allow synthetic amino acids into pet foods. Please do not allow this.
Organic foods including organic pet foods, should be held to the highest standards. Synthetic amino acids are not only far from organic standard, they are completely unnecessary if quality meats/fish are utilized in the pet food and if manufacturing processes does not destroy them.
The Pet Food Institute petition led you to believe that all manufacturing of commercial pet foods destroys amino acids – this is not true. Many pet food manufacturers have recognized the health benefit to pets from whole foods and have developed manufacturing processes that not only do not destroy amino acids, but as well vitamins, antioxidants, and a multitude of nutrients received from whole foods. This includes raw foods, fresh foods (lightly cooked) and even varieties of kibble.
Please hold organic pet food to the standard organic pet food consumers expect. Do not allow synthetic amino acids to be approved.
Pet Food Safety Advocate
One more thing…
The Pet Food Institute petition states they request this amendment to allow synthetic amino acids into organic pet foods “on behalf of all Organic pet food producers in the U.S.” All organic pet food producers in the U.S.? I don’t think so. I am confident there are pet food manufacturers that will disagree with this statement (I know one that already has – quoted above).
Thank goodness there is a growing number of pet food manufacturers that don’t over process their foods and use whole food ingredients. The use of synthetic amino acids should not be necessary – in organic or non-organic pet foods. Let us hope the Organics Standard Board can see this too.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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