The following is a brief recap of a recent conversation with a potential Flint River Ranch customer with their comments and our observations. It started with the individual’s statement that Flint River Ranch pet food products have not been changing its formulas to “keep up with the times.” The customer was feeding a more “modern” brand, believing that Flint River Ranch formulas were “old-fashioned” and “out-dated.”
We have always taken great personal pride in the fact that our pet food formulas are truly a selection of the very finest quality ingredients that are properly combined for superior nutrition. A 15-year history of demonstrated results of our “standard” formulas speaks for itself. Considering that our structured dog food and cat food formulas do utilize the oven-baking manufacturing process, we might appear to some as “old-fashioned.” To get a better understanding for the person’s comments, we asked for more detailed feedback and they provided the following.
The label on my dog food says “Organic” and therefore must offer better nutrition…
Does the label say 100% organic? Doubtful. “Organic” is often hyped for offering better nutritional value, but that’s not always the case. It does indicate that environmental care has been used in eliminating chemicals and pesticides — something Flint River Ranch has focused on since we started. Having said that, pet food that hasn’t been manufactured in a complete organic plant environment cannot be considered organic.
High quality ingredients have the same nutritional value when properly handled in the manufacturing process. If poorly handled, any ingredient, including organic can have limited nutritional value. We could hype Flint River Ranch formulas as they do include some organic ingredients. As our plant is not 100% organic, we prefer to refer to our ingredients as human quality. In addition to required supplier certification, we also test extensively for toxic molds, chemicals, and pesticides.
The label on my dog food says “Whole Chicken.”
Whole chicken really means whole chicken, which of course can include bones, blood, intestines, heads, feet, and in some cases feathers. Flint River Ranch uses only the meat portion of chicken — there are never any poultry by-products in our chicken meal. The hormone-free, human-grade chicken we use is of the same high quality that you feed to your family.
The label on my other dog food has “Herbs, Botanicals, and Nutraceuticals…”
Nutraceuticals include generically-engineered designer foods — genetically modified grains, dietary supplements, pharmafoods, and physiochemicals (including herbs). Herbal products in particular should be used with caution because of their potential with toxicity. Just because herbs are natural doesn’t mean they’re necessarily good – or safe – for your pet.
There are many herbs that are GRAS (generally recognized as safe), but what works for one dog may be extremely toxic to another and should not be randomly available to all types of dogs. They must be properly supervised by a trained veterinarian familiar with the guidelines and current regulations. The extremely small amount of botanicals in pet foods generally follows the old adage of “above all else, do not harm” and are generally included primarily for marketing hype, providing little if any value to the pet’s health.
A quality dog food does not need supplements unless recommended by a professional to treat or cure a specific issue. Don’t put your family pet at risk from marketing hype claims. Check with your professional veterinarian or caregiver that knows your dog or cat and do your own research. It is not the tinker-toy list of ingredients that is important — what is important is how well the nutrients are digested and utilized by the animal.
The label on my dog food has “Cellulose” needed for good fiber.
Cellulose is the main ingredient of plant tissue and fiber, including trees. It is also used in the manufacturing of explosives, paper, and textiles. Basically, Cellulose is “sawdust” used as a cheap filler in pet foods.
You are your pet’s master and not his medical doctor. It does makes sense to help prevent disease and other health challenges with proper nutrition supported by professional care. Our industry that offers many fine dog goods is the same industry that offers low-quality garbage foods as well.
While it has been known in the industry that many pet food brands are made by companies that specialize in private label products — i.e. companies that produce products for a large number of different brands. Generally, we have no problem with this if the ingredients are as represented.
The challenge became public knowledge with the recent major pet food recall. Flint River Ranch does not “farm out” any production.
All our products are made in one plant with certified USA ingredients. (Note: All ingredients used in Flint River Ranch foods are from the United States except for our certified range-fed lamb meal, which comes from New Zealand).
The cost is higher to seek out the finest ingredients, require supplier certification with our own continued in-house testing and production quality control; however, we believe our animal companions are worth it — we are sure most of our customers do as well.
Flint River Ranch behind the times? We think not. We just happen to make the very best pet food in the national market. Our only real disadvantage might be the general lack of consumer knowledge about our industry, ingredients, and what it takes to make a great pet food.