The Dirty Dozen of Pet Food Ingredients - written for Dr. Karen Becker

written by Chelsea Kent

Ethoxyquin – This chemical preservative is equally toxic to Arsenic and has been linked to acute renal failure, tubular necrosis, organ weight loss or gain, genetic mutations and death. (1,2,3)  

Menadione – also known as Vitamin K3 and more toxic than Arsenic, Menadione’s chemical registration states it is “not for human or veterinary use,” is “harmful if swallowed,” and it is linked to reproductive damage, tumor growth and cancer. (3, 4, 5, 6)

Dyes & Colors, including Caramel – Synthesized from coal tar, petroleum and other chemicals using acids, hydroxides and/or phosphates, these carcinogenic, allergy inducing aesthetic ingredients are minimally researched and usually contaminated with high levels of heavy metals. (7,8)  

“Animal” or Poultry Digest – This “material” is digested with Carboxylic Acid (which has no toxological research), Potassium Hydroxide, Pancreatin or Pepsin is derived from unspecified parts of unspecified animals. (9, 10)

Animal Fat – If the type of animal is known it must be listed on the label – therefore, this fat source of unknown origin is rendered (generally meaning it was rejected for human food consumption due to contamination or concerning quality) and can legally be anything from tallow to restaurant fryer grease. (11)

Propylene Glycol – This chemical ingredient is largely used in antifreeze, may cause allergic dermatitis, and causes Heinz Body Formation which reduces the lifespan of red blood cells in cats. (12, 13)

 Soybean Oil – As defined by AAFCO, this oil must be “composed chiefly of (damaging) triglycerides,” and it has been noted as a cause of obesity, diabetes, and heart and liver damage. (14, 15, 16)

Poultry or Beef By-Products – These bottom-of-the-barrel ingredients are inferior to profitable by-products such as bully-sticks. They NEVER contain “meat” and are “rejected for human use” due to contamination from disease-causing bacteria, chemicals, or due to aesthetic concerns (e.g. rotted meats). (17, 18)

Corn Gluten Meal – This by-product of ethanol/biodiesel production is an EPA registered chemical that is generally manufactured with GMO, pesticide-ridden corn and processed with yeasts, antibiotics, toxic chemicals such as sulfur and chlorine dioxide, liquid urea, diammonium phosphate, anhydrous ammonia, and corn steep liquor. (19, 20, 21)

BHA, BHT – These preservative chemicals are linked to kidney, lung, liver and genetic damage and cancers at only 61ppm (Arsenic is toxic at 763ppm). (3, 22, 23)

Meat and Bone Meal – If the manufacturer knows what kind of animal the “meat” is from they must state it on the label – this unidentified source of by-products (brain, horns, scrotum, snout…), “can’t be used in animal feed unless (it is) heat-treated and further processed,” and is high in phosphorus and pepsin indigestible residue. (18, 24)

Sodium Selenite – This mineral, intended to provide Selenium, is more than 100x more toxic than Arsenic, it is “not thoroughly investigated,” and is noted to cause salivation, tremors, alopecia, vomiting, dermatitis, paralysis, and behavioral changes. (3, 25, 26)