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The need for minimally processed, microbiologically safe, chemical-free raw pet food is growing in demand exponentially. For several years the use of high-pressure process has shown to be a viable solution in the human food category and is embraced by manufacturers looking to manage the microbial environment without synthetic preservatives. However, before employing it in the SRF raw food diets it is of vital importance to understand the kinetics of HPP on nutritional validity, toxicity, and taste. For two years, Steve’s Real Food has conducted both internal research and sought out outside sources to fully understand the best practices within this process and its effect on the food.
We conducted internal testing of 95 nutrients and saw an insignificant change in nutrient value. This combined with extensive research done by 3rd parties has lead us to the conclusion that HPPed raw diets and non-HPP raw diets are bioequivalent. We also tested for the migration of toxins from plastic packaging and found no change in BHA. Finally, the additional testing on enzymatic and probiotic activity has deemed this process as a viable option to manage the microbial environment and preserve all our raw meat diets.
We conducted several tests on HPP raw meat diets and non-HPP raw meat diets to determine the effects of the process on proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, probiotics and toxins. The tests were conducted on the same lot numbers to ensure that the biological makeup of the control group and the test group were equivalent.
The objective of the tests was to first determine the effects of high-pressure process on raw meat diets, and second to identify any negative side effects that the process may produce.
We divided our testing into four different sections; nutritional, enzymatic, probiotic, and toxins.
Prior to implementing the HPP process on our poultry, we ran two full nutritional analysis panels on chicken using the same lot for both the control group and the HPP treated group. This test consisted of 95 vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, and fiber. It was shown that there was minimal effect on all of these nutrients with the exception of 4 vitamins which had moderate losses. These losses were not significant enough to fall below the AAFCO’s recommended amount*. We continued to do regular testing going forward to achieve more data points, specifically on the ones where we found a moderate nutritional change.
Below are the percent changes for all of the AAFCO nutrients.
|Sample: Raw Chicken Diet||Amount Changed|
|Vitamin A (Retinol)||-176||IU/kg|
As shown, 67% of the nutrients had an increase in value while only 17% had decreases. There are only four nutrients with losses greater than 20% which did flag concern. However, after further research, we found that these nutrients were in such abundance that we were still far above AAFCO guidelines.
Below is a breakdown of the nutrients with losses greater than 20%.
|Vitamin||AAFCO Minimum||Average Amount
|Vitamin A (Retinol)||5000 IU/kg||5538 IU/kg|
|Pantothenic acid||12 mg/kg||13.1 mg/kg|
|Pyridoxine||1.5 mg/kg||1.7 mg/kg|
|Vitamin B12||0.028 mg/kg||0.169 mg/kg|
*We have updated the formulas as follows to ensure that in the HPP formula these vitamins are met in abundance above the AAFCO minimums.
It is noted that the calcium and phosphorus levels increase. This increase is not of concern due to the CA:PH ratio maintained within the optimal level of 1-2:1. However, due to the need to increase the meat and organ levels, we have reduced the raw bone which in turn maintains our calcium and phosphorus levels.
Nutritional Tests Summary: There were minimal reductions in minerals and slight reductions in four vitamins of which we have made formula adjustments to account for the changes.
Enzymes are critical in our raw food diet and are one of the main elements that make a raw diet more nutritious than a lightly cooked diet. It is of critical importance that we understand the effect of high-pressure pasteurization on enzymatic activity. To achieve this goal we conducted both internal tests on our raw diets and researched 3rd party studies that contained extensive testing on food-derived enzymes.
Our internal testing was done on the raw chicken diet. We tested the enzymatic activity on the same lot of food prior to HPP and post HPP. The results were definitive that the HPP process had an insignificant effect on enzymatic activity. This was then supported by the third-party research we found.
In a study by “Pressure-Induced Inactivation of Selected Food Enzyme” published in the Journal of Food Science it was found that enzymatic activity has little degradation after the HPP process using a pressure of 600 MPa. The study was conducted to find out at what pressures the enzymes would have to be put under to become fully inactivated. Most enzymes required an MPa of 800 or more for long periods of time. They tested many pressures, temperatures, and immersion mediums to fully understand the effect of HPP on enzymatic activity.
They found that at ultra-high pressures such as 900MPa, there was a quick degradation in enzymatic activity reaching 100% by 5 minutes. However, by reducing the pressure and temperature, the enzymes become more stable.
One of the tests was done on the enzyme pectinesterase. A pressure of 600MPa was applied for 2 minutes at 45 Celsius and it resulted in a reduction in the activity of only 10%.
They also tested enzymatic activity in bovine milk and found that it had a protective effect. Under the same parameters stated above, the enzymatic activity had no change when tested in milk. This could be an indicator as to why our internal test showed no change in enzymatic activity.
The pressure and time that is used with our High-Pressure Technology (600MPa @ 160 sec.) are similar to what was used in this study. We do the process at a much lower temperature but it was found that under 45 Celsius, the temperature did not have an effect on enzymatic activity. Due to the similar parameters used in the study and the similar outcomes we found in our internal tests, it is determined that enzymatic activity is not affected using our High-Pressure Technology.
Enzyme Tests Summary: After doing internal testing and researching 3rd party testing we have deducted that there is no change to enzymatic activity using out HPT.
There have been a lot of studies on how High-Pressure Pasteurization is proven to be highly effective in inactivating pathogenic bacteria and so it is important to understand its effect on healthy probiotic bacteria. There are very few studies on this but from what we found, the Lactobacillus genera of bacteria are very pressure resistant. One study cited in the article “New Insights into the High-Pressure Processing of Meat and Meat products” found that Lactobacillus only had a 2 log reduction which was regained after 6 days of chilled storage. This can be compared to Salmonella which at the same pressure had a 4 log reduction and no recovery after 60 days of chilled storage or E. Coli in raw meat that achieve total inactivation at 700MPa for 5 minutes.
Hyperbaric, the manufacture of high-pressure machinery cites a study where it was found that yogurt cultures stay active after an HPP process using 500 MPa, while mold cultures are inactivated. This study was done by a company that used it to attain patent US78549500B2.
Probiotics Effects Summary: The testing that has been done has shown little effect on the pressure-resistant “good bacteria”.
A primary concern when pressurizing food in a plastic bag is the migration of toxins from packing to the food. The packaging that is used during the HPP process is certified BPA free, however, we wanted to be certain toxins where not being leached. We tested two batches of Turkey Diet and found that there were no detectable toxins leached from the packaging to the food. This is discussed further below.
There is a lot of research on High-Pressure Processing, particularly on how it affects pathogens. In this comprehensive article, New Insights into the High‐Pressure Processing of Meat and Meat Products, there is a lot of useful information that covers the aspects of HPP and its biological effect on foods. This article provides information on both raw and cooked foods, juices, purees, and other food products. It also talks about the effect of HPP at different pressures, times, PH levels, and temperatures. Below is a summary of the information that is related to raw meat products using HPP processes similar to our pressure, time and temperature.
The HPP process can and is used to improve the tenderness of food. The pressurization process changes the structure of myofibrils, and other protein cells which make the meat more tender. The breakdown of the proteins increases cytosolic Ca2, increasing the intracellular fluid. Additionally, it is found the HPP process can increase the ph of post-rigor meats immediately after the pressure treatment.
Lipid oxidation leads to rancidity and off-flavors an undesirable characteristic. The high-pressure pasteurization process has shown to result in lipid oxidation if the pressure hold times are 20 minutes or more. At 600MPa, at a shorter hold time, it is shown to happen but only when the water temperatures are greater than 24 degrees Celsius (75 ℉). In a 2010 study it was found that at 600MPa for 15 minutes at 5 degrees Celsius (41 ℉), oxidation was limited significantly.
Beyond adjusting pressure and hold time, you can reduce the opportunity for lipid oxidation by eliminating the oxygen in the packaging and using vacuum-packed bags. Another practice that has shown to effectively mitigate lipid oxidation is the use of rosemary and sage extract.
Pressure-treated beef and chicken were reported to have better aroma after 14 days of cold storage. This is attributed to the lower microbial content that would be found in pressure treated meat.
Biogenic amines (histamine, tyramine) only form in a microbial environment. High amounts of biogenic amines may have toxicological effects. The pressure pasteurization process controls the microbial environment which in turn lowers the levels of Biogenic amines.
Food that contains nitrites are most likely to result in a toxic environment after pressure treatment. Food with naturally occurring nitrites showed a decrease in the nitrite level after pressure processing.
A 2009 study showed the migration of packaging compounds into high‐pressure‐treated beef and chicken breast packed in multilayer polymeric bags. Significant migration of compounds from the plastic material was observed, but it was not enhanced by the high‐pressure treatment (400 MPa, 10 min, 12 °C). Another 2010 study showed traces of n-hexanal in HPP food, but the researchers did not state whether differences were observed between high‐pressure‐treated and untreated samples.
Bacterial inactivation has been proven via the use of high-pressure pasteurization at the proper pressures, hold times, and temperatures.
Information relating to the effects of high pressure on the bioequivalence of food are abundant and clear that the process does not have harmful nutritional effects. It is evident that under the proper pressure, temperature, and hold times, the effect on enzymes and probiotics are minimal. Thus, high pressure seems to be a desirable technology for the treatment of raw meat pet food products.
Pressure Induced Inactivation of Selected Food Enzymes - March 1996 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2621.1996.tb14182.x
New Insights into the High-Pressure Processing of Meat and Meat products - April 2012
HPP Probiotics and Functional Products - Hiperbaric Blog - April 2017
Muscle proteinases and meat aging. 1994
Effects of high‐pressure treatment on Ca2+ release and Ca2+ uptake of sarcoplasmic - Feb 1995
Aroma development in high‐pressure‐treated beef and chicken meat compared to raw and heat treated. - Oct 2010
Biogenic amines and their production by microorganisms in food - Feb 1994
Effects of high‐pressure processing on the volatile compounds of sliced cooked pork shoulder during refrigerated storage - Feb 2011
It has been brought to our attention that another manufacturer has been making statements about our manufacturing processes that are unfounded. We have a non-disclosure agreement with our manufacturer which would inhibit the competitor to know what we are doing or plan to do.
We put these agreements into place to protect ourselves for circumstances just like this. We feel this other brand is very upset with the situation they find themselves in and are making emotionally charged statements. It would be our recommendation that if HPP is something they are against than they cease production until they can find a way to produce food in a way they can stand behind.
In September we started a second grind on our foods to break down the bone more and allow us to use a Listeria Biophage as an added kill step for our meat diets. This did change the texture of the food since the fats, tendons, and produce are ground finner and mixed more.
We believe in bringing up the raw pet food category as a whole. We do not attack other brands no matter how they produce their food because at the end of the day, whether you feed HPP food or non-HPP food, you have already taken a step in the right direction and are feeding fresh food. We thank you for that and so do your furry loved ones.
Dilated Cardiomyopathy is a pretty frightening word, and certainly not one you want to hear associated with the health of your beloved canine. This condition has been in the news a bit lately and can be especially worrisome to hear that certain forms of the condition may be related to diet. It’s worth taking a moment to understand the issue and what you as a pet parent can do to make sure the condition doesn’t affect your dogs.
Most dog owners go a long way to keep their four-legged friend healthy; routine checkups, regular exercise, quality food, and so on. But what about his dental health? According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), periodontal disease is the most common oral disease in dogs. A healthy dog’s teeth should be white and free of tartar and plaque. They should also not be broken or jagged.
Raw-fed dogs and cats tend to have healthier teeth and gums. I know, I know, we were all told for so long that the best way to clean our pet’s teeth was by feeding them a dry, crunchy food. But consider this: after you eat dry, crunchy pretzels, how do your teeth feel? You have bits of pretzel stuck in and around your teeth, right? It’s definitely not a clean, just-brushed feeling.
The phrase “my dog has allergies” may be one of the most common phrases uttered by pet parents, right after “who’s a good boy?”. But why are there so many pets with so many allergies out there? Was it always this way? And what can we do to combat allergies?
According to a 2016 survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 59% of cats and 54% of dogs in the US are overweight, and those percentages are growing every year. That’s incredible! Mostly, it’s incredibly sad. Most people know that obesity is dangerous, but many pet parents seem to turn a blind eye when it comes to their pet’s size.
You may often hear about how digestible raw food is, but is there any proof of why? There sure is! In this post, we will go through how and why raw food is easier for pets to digest and how, as a result of that, your pet will be happier, healthier, and poop less (really!).
Enzymes are perhaps one of the greatest aspects of raw food. We’ve gone somewhat in-depth about enzymes in an earlier post, but here’s a refresher: enzymes are catalysts for many biochemical processes in the body from digesting food to replicating DNA. These vitally important molecules are highly specialized and considerably fragile; temperatures as low as 118 degrees Fahrenheit can destroy nearly all enzymes in food. So why do we care so much about these little guys? Because the more enzymes we can obtain from whole raw food sources, the less our bodies have to work to digest the food we eat. Foods that are rich in enzymes can actually “predigest” in the stomach in a process called autolytic digestion. This happens without the aid of stomach acid and can be responsible for up to 75% of total meal digestion. If the body is able to predigest the food in this manner, it will not have to use its own store of digestive enzymes from the pancreas and stomach acid levels can remain low. Without ample enzymes in the food, the pancreas and small intestine have to work overtime which in turn stresses the endocrine system and can lead to problems such as leaky gut syndrome and diabetes which of course cause a whole host of problems on their own.
Take away: More food enzymes = less work for the body to digest.
Raw food also contains whole, undenatured proteins. This means that the protein molecules found in raw meats (and produce too!) are in their whole, natural, and easily recognizable form. Cooking alters proteins by breaking down molecular bonds and disrupts alpha-helix and beta sheets, causing the proteins to uncoil and reshape into unrecognizable forms. This inability to recognize the shape of a protein is one of the greatest causes of food-based allergies. Basically, the body has no idea what to do with the weird-shaped proteins and it sends a team of histamines to destroy it. And we all know histamines can cause a whole lot of damaging swelling, heat, and uncomfortable itching. Interestingly, dogs and cats (and humans) can have an allergic reaction to a cooked protein, but can oftentimes tolerate the raw form of the food. It’s one of the main reasons why infants can easily digest breastmilk, but as adults, nearly 97% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant to some degree.
Take away: Cooking proteins makes them less recognizable and digestible.
Probiotics are another great aspect of raw foods. Probiotics are commonly referred to as “good bacteria” and are one aspect of a healthy bacteria ratio and biome both inside and outside of the body. There are trillions of bacteria cells in dog and cat bodies and only so much real estate, so bacteria strains are constantly battling each other for precious territory. Without enough “good bacteria” in the body, the bad bacteria (and yeasts) can overgrow and cause lots of problems such as widespread yeast infections and diarrhea. Raw foods contain live, naturally-occurring probiotics that can help your pet keep a nice healthy ratio of good to bad bacteria, which in turn can help support gut health, brain function, and infections prevention.
Take away: Healthy, live probiotics = healthy, lively pet.
Naturally occurring moisture is pretty important too. Intracellular moisture is the fancy name for moisture that is found in plant and animal cells. In addition to providing the most natural, effective way for dogs and cats to absorb moisture, intracellular moisture helps keep the whole digestive process a well-lubricated machine. Think of raw food cells as little miniature water balloons. Those little balloons stay intact until they reach the small intestine where cell walls are broken down and processed. Water that is added back into a cooked food or water that is drunk cannot behave in this way and goes through the digestive system in a separate process. Since the body requires moisture to digest and process any food, it would make sense to feed our pets a diet that already has that moisture built in, so they don’t have to use their own moisture reserves to complete the task. Pets who are fed a diet high in naturally-occurring moisture can digest their food more easily and do not have to over-consume water. In fact, many raw-fed dogs and cats drink very little water from their bowls! Another reason why moisture is so important? It helps to flush out the liver and kidneys, keeping them as healthy and free from excess toxins as possible.
Take away: Naturally, occurring moisture eases the digestion process and helps support liver and renal health.
Lastly, a word on poop. Poop is one of our favorite things to talk about in the raw pet food world. Poop is the best evidence for what’s happening digestively within a pet, and when feeding raw food, you’ll see plenty of proof in the pudding. Well, pudding may be the wrong word. That’s because the poop of raw fed pets is more firm and dry than anything else. Less smelly too. Why? Because the pet is using everything it is eating, instead of passing on indigestible food that starts to get preeeety pungent. By eating raw food, your pet is absorbing and using all of that naturally-occurring moisture found in raw meat and produce, leaving behind dry poops that are easy to pick up and have a pleasant aroma (ok, that last part might be pushing it). One of the greatest things about this hard, dry poop is that it helps to naturally express the anal glands of cats and dogs, so you don’t have to worry about your pet developing that particularly stinky problem. But the best part about all of this business is that you’ll notice your pet poops less frequently. Waaay less frequently. And who doesn’t love that?