Steve’s Real Food Frequently Asked Questions

Properly prepared raw meat diets are complete and balanced. There are many people who attempt homemade raw diets, but these can be complicated, expensive, and time-consuming. There are a number of different nutritional requirements that must be met, and the needs vary over time. The problem is if a pet parent gets it wrong, the results can be devastating. If you are interested in doing so, we encourage you to thoroughly do your research. There are many great books that will aid you in doing this, one of which we recommend Steve Brown’s Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet or See Spot Live Longer. Dog’s Naturally Magazine also has semi-annual remote weekend conferences full of fantastic information for raw-feeding parents.
American Association of Feed Control Officials is the regulatory organization that advise each state on how to regulate pet food coming into their state. They also have determined the levels of vitamins and minerals that a food must have to be classified as Complete and Balanced for All Life Stages. This means that they have been formulated to ensure they have the nutrients necessary for good health over the lifetime of your pet. However, AAFCO standards are easy targets and can be achieved using low-grade ingredients. Many commercial dry pet food companies have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to figure out the cheapest ingredients available that will yield the test result necessary to pass. Raw food on the other hand just naturally exceeds the AAFCO requirements.
Most kibbles are produced at temperatures above 300 degrees F under 600 or more pounds of pressure per square inch. I don’t think anyone can dispute the fact that this is a harsh environment for many nutrients. Heat destroys all the enzymes, some of the known antioxidants, and perhaps many of the known and unknown phytochemicals and flavonoids. High heat may alter the bioavailability of some of the minerals and perhaps even alter the chemical structure of the amino acids. The pet food industry compensates for this loss of nutrition by adding synthetic vitamins back in and running many tests and measurements before the food has gone through these processes. For example, kibbles that advertise they are a good source of Omega-3 Fatty acids ignore the fact that all nutritional value of these medium-chain tryglicerides are destroyed in the manufacture process. Raw food is the only way to preserve these types of nutrients so they can actually be useful to your pet.
You have a few options with Steve’s Real food. Our food comes in pour and serve (nuggets), rehydrate and serve (freeze dry) or, in the case of our patties, simply serve. We recommend using a stainless-steel bowl to reduce the prevalence of bacteria and be sure to wash all bowls and utensils when finished. If you choose the defrost the food before feeding, you will want to do that in an air-tight container in the refrigerator overnight.
Raw food is healthier than canned or kibble for one simple reason - cooking destroys nutrition. When heat is applied to food important digestive enzymes are killed, along with Omega-3s, and other important nutrients. These micronutrients, such as enzymes, phytochemicals, complete families of antioxidants and flavonoids, vitamins and minerals simply cannot be replaced (not with additives and not with supplements). This is why dogs and cats begin to slow down and develop chronic diseases around 6-8 years of age – their bodies have run out of their natural stores of digestive enzymes and without these, they have to work harder to digest the food they eat.
Our fruits and vegetables are natural sources of enzymes, vitamins, minerals and much more, in a form that is more bio-available than synthetic vitamin packs. Finally, our supplements are superfoods that provide an extra punch to the nutritional whammy of our food, and they increase the bioavailability of the other nutrients, making our food the most easily digested and nutrient-available food on the market. This triple-threat (quality meats, quality vegetables, and superfoods) help to make our formulas complete and balanced, naturally. By providing the highest quality ingredients and leaving them the way they are, we provide optimal nutrition and health for your pet. This is vitally important because while studies have proven that fruit and vegetable-rich diets can lower cancer incidents and other diet-related ailments they cannot pinpoint the particular nutrients that provide these benefits. As we said above, to get all the nutrition food has to offer, it must be raw!
The answer is yes, Steve’s Real Food is made for all ages and stages of your pet’s life. Steve’s is great for puppies, kittens, young and older dogs or cats. If your pet has never had raw food before, start slowly with just a couple nuggets. Then gradually increase the amount of Steve’s while decreasing the amount of other pet food. This allows for a smooth transition and easy digestion!
The Biologically Appropriate Raw Food diet (B.A.R.F. diet) uses 80% meat and 20% produce. This allows for an abundance of phytochemicals to be in the diet due to the use of produce. It is also easier digested from the increased amount of fiber in the food. If you pet has never eaten raw food, we recommend starting with the B.A.R.F. style diet. Our 5# bags, 9.75# bags and 13.5# bags are the B.A.R.F. format. Prey is a 95% meat to 5% supplements formulation. This type of diet best for highly active pets, pets that need to gain weight or cats who enjoy a meatier diet. Our 20# boxes and 2# Quest Cat Food use the Prey formulation.
There are slight differences between frost and freezer burn. Frost can occur when the food is frozen because the moisture creates ice crystals. These can increase when the bag is opened because of exposure to air. It has no effect on the nutritional quality of a product, but often diminishes the appearance of a food. However, it does not affect the taste, and your dog or cat will be perfectly happy and safe eating the food. Freezer burn can occur when the frost accumulates over months and months and carries an unpleasant smell. The food is still safe to feed, but it is recommended to not buy so much food that it is sitting in your freezer for long enough for the freezer burn to become an issue.

Most dogs are able to switch to without any adverse effects, especially when allowed to do so gradually over the course of a few weeks. More sensitive dogs/cats or those with digestive issues should start with our gentle Goat Milk Yogurt to wake up and heal their digestive system before introducing the meat. After a few meals with that then start adding the raw food to the meals in small amounts. Read more on transitioning here.

Steve’s Real Food for Pets can be fed frozen, defrosted or slightly warm. Try not to heat it above 118° F so that you don’t destroy the enzymes, and avoid cooking as it contains ground bone. Some dogs like the food best slightly warm, some like it frozen.
The easiest way to do this is to use our Freeze-dry products, but our Steve’s frozen food can be kept in a thermal ice-filled cooler or in your motel room mini-fridge (thawed) for about 3 to 4 days. To keep it frozen on your travels, use 5lbs of dry ice for every day you are traveling in a cooler

Nutrition and Disease

The number one thing that you will never get in a cooked diet are enzymes. These substances are killed attemperatures higher than 117 degrees Fahrenheit, so cooked food just simply does not have them. Our body does naturally make enzymes, but not enough. As humans we will get enough from eating raw produce, but since most dogs do not have salad for lunch, they do not get them from the food. When you feed a raw diet, your are feeding a meal packed full of enzymes and other amazing nutrients. Read more about Enzymes. (link to new page ͞why raw works͟ in quick guide section)
Steve’s is great for both dogs and cats with stones, crystals or other issues associated with internal dysfunction. Our target PH for our foods are a normal acid level of 6.2 – 6.4. In addition, the moisture in our food is very beneficial for pets with these types of issues. If you have a pet with these issues we recommend enhancing the diet with our PurrGurt (link to:– it sounds like it is only for cats, but it great for dogs with urinary issues also.


Steve’s Real Food uses only high quality, 100% certified USDA inspected raw meats, fruits, and vegetables grown in the USA. We use certified natural whole foods. All our ingredients are 100% natural without hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, and other chemicals etc.
It is our mission to provide you with an affordable product. We use all natural, free-range, grass-fed meats. We do not use organic because this would put the product as a price point that is much higher then we want and we believe that a antibiotic/No Added Hormones, all natural option is sufficient. In reality, our food meets essentially every requirement for organic, but the organic certification is too expensive for many small farms, and we support their efforts to grow good quality food.
Yes, all the meats are grass-fed and grass-finished with No Added Hormones or antibiotics. The poultry are free range and fed a species appropriate diet.

We get beef, pork, and poultry from the Pacific Northwest here in the United States. The lamb comes from New Zealand. Our emu comes from a farm in Tennessee. The fish are wild-caught and sustainably sourced for Pacific waters. The produce comes from the Pacific Northwest and California. We do not source any ingredients from China and you can view all our ingredient sources here.

Yes, we use ONLY GMO free ingredients. We have not gotten the non-GMO seal yet due to lack of time. We are a small business with limited time and resources.
No, all our meat and poultry are processed in the same USDA inspected plants that human food is made which means the thyroid is not allowed in the product.
No, we do not use any syntheitc vitamin packs. Our food supplies all the needed vitamins and minerals from the ingredients in the food. We use lab testing to ensure each batch of food is complete and balanced.

Besides being the first nationally distributed complete and balanced raw food for pets, Steve’s Real Food stands out from the competition because of our:

  • Convenient Packaging – Easy to Open – Easy To Serve
  • Transparent Ingredient Sourcing 
  • Bulk Sizes to Make Feeding Every Day Easier
  • Quick Defrosting Nuggets 
  • Affordable Price
  • Nutrition expertise backed by over 20 years of R&D

Find Out More Here

Yes, we grind whole bone to provide your pet with the natural source of calcium and phosphorus. We grind them down to a 1/8th size. Sometimes an oblong size bone will be able to get through the grinder at 1/8th in diameter but may be larger in length. You pet will be able to process this size of bone without a problem.

Many of our customers mix Steve’s with a premium grain-based food. Some people believe that you should not mix meat with grain because they are digested differently. These people feed Steve’s one day, and a premium grain-based food the next day. Others believe that the dog or cat should receive some of the thousands of enzymes, phytochemicals and antioxidants that are only in properly prepared raw meat-based diets every day. These people will mix 25% to 75% Steve’s in with the kibble daily.

We think both points-of-view make sense. We’ve also seen wonderful results either way. Our advice is to use whichever system works for you.

The fresher any food is, the better tasting and more nutritious it is. Quick freezing, which is done in our plant, and keeping the food frozen are the best ways to preserve nutrition and taste. Steve’s Real Food frozen varieties, as long as it remains frozen, can remain in your freezer for up to a year. (Please check our best if used by date). Once the raw food has defrosted in the refrigerator it will last for about 3 – 4 days. When given in a bowl at feeding time, it should be fed within four hours.

Beef: 1429 kcal/kg – 40 kcal/oz Chicken: 1572 kcal/kg – 45 kcal/oz Turkey: 1422 kcal/kg – 39 kcal/oz Turducken: 1482 kcal/kg – 42 kcal/oz Pork: 1552 kcal/kg – 44 kcal/oz
Beef – 1260 kcal/kg – 36 kcal/oz Pork – 1420 kcal/kg – 40 kcal/oz Emu – 1480 kcal/kg – 42 kcal/oz

Yes, the original 5 diets (Beef, Chicken, Turkey, Turducken, and Pork) are the complete and balanced for both dogs and cats. Steve's Real Food has developed a frozen raw cat food and a freeze-dried raw cat food line to cater to our feline friends. Both options are complete and balanced for all stages of life.

Color changes in the food is completely normal. There are many factors that change effect the color of the meat. Age, species, diet, and season of slaughter of the animal can cause color changes with the food from batch to batch. Additional hemoglobin a protein that will cause the meat to have a redder color, can be at different levels in each batch. Lastly, the age of the product will cause color changes. As the product ages, it tends to be greyer the fresher product.
Yes, all packaging is certified BPA Free.


The answer is, yes, if you take common sense precautions. Raw meat does have the potential for bacteria, and if you do not wash your hands after making your pup or kitty’s dinner then you are at a risk of getting sick. Treat your pet’s food (regardless of whether it is raw or kibble) as you would treat the raw meat you might make your family. Safe handling removes virtually all the risk of raw foods. It is much more dangerous to your pet to feed food devoid of nutrition that will lead to chronic disease and an early death.
It has been shown that pets can handle a much larger amount of bacteria than humans can. Think about your dog or cat taking a drink out of the toilet (they do it more often than we know). Do they get sick? It is likely you would if you took a nice big gulp. Pets have short, acidic digestive systems, especially when compared to humans. This environment does not create a place that bacteria can survive. The only contraindication for pets is if they are immuno-compromised or undergoing chemotherapy, their weakened immune system may not be able to handle regular raw food, and a moisture rich, cooked diet is best for these pets.
Steve’s Real Food uses only the highest quality (100% human-grade) ingredients, which is our first line of attack from keeping bacteria out of our food. Any raw meat has the potential for containing bacteria. Cats and Dogs are biologically designed to handle these bacteria, often having them in their systems naturally. In reality, the question of food safety is more for the pet parents than for the pets themselves. That is why we encourage our customers to use safe food handling techniques regardless of the pet food they are feeding.
Our frozen foods should be kept in the freezer until you’re ready to feed your pet. For cats and smaller dogs, we suggest that at each meal, you simply pour the number of nuggets you will feed into a separate bowl and defrost in the refrigerator. For large and multiple-dog families, you can defrost the entire bag in the refrigerator. The food stays wholesome for about four days in the refrigerator without significant nutrient loss. Keep the freeze-dried products in a cool, dry location until opening. After opening, refrigerate or freeze.
We regularly test our foods for Salmonella, E.coli 0157-H7, & Campylobacter to ensure our products safety. We also test our foods pesticides, heavy metals and other environmental contaminants.
Sometimes we get questions about parasites, especially in our pork products. Parasites live in the guts, and we only use the organ and muscle meat, therefore there is no risk of parasites. Even if there were, freezing the food for a minimum of three days effectively kills off such parasites, so our foods are risk-free.

It is not recommended to let dogs or cats lick you just after feeding. Bacteria can be transferred, but the risk is incredibly low, and it is unlikely that you will become ill. From a behavioral standpoint face-licking is not recommended, as it is a form of begging. Many dry and canned pet foods have tested positive for bacteria as well, so regardless of what diet you feed, licking can carry the same risks. The two main points of contamination risk from your pet is through their tongue and their feces. Practice basic habits of cleanliness and safety and it is unlikely you or your child will get ill.


The plant is located in Aumsville, OR just 15 minutes east of Salem. We store all our finished goods in a frozen warehouse in Boring OR. We do not own either of these facilities. We work extremely closely with our co-packer who grew up working in a raw pet food plant which was his family business. He left the family business to go on his own direction and manufacture Steve’s Real Food.

We have decided to use HPP for all our formulas after two years of rigorous research, and it has shown to be the best solution to manage the microbial environment without synthetic preservatives. We conducted testing of 95 nutrients and saw no significant change in nutrient value. HPP inactivates food borne pathogens such as Salmonella, E Coli & Listeria without changing the nutritional value of the food. It offers a safer option for consumers who are worried about food safety, who have small children, are immune-compromised, or who have a pet who is immune-compromised. Please read this bog about our decision and to view the results of our extensive testing.

We use the highest quality, raw meats, and produce to our diets. Our food is manufactured under USDA and HACCP guidelines and stored at temperatures below freezing. We make our formulas with sterilized processing equipment to prevent any possibility of contamination, and our machines undergo rigorous cleaning after every round of production. When you enter the facility, you are required to wash your hands and dip your footwear in a chlorine bath. Smocks, hair/beard nets & gloves to protect the product from contamination.
We keep our food clean by using high-quality ingredients and following strict manufacturing processes. The FDA and the Oregon Department of Agriculture regularly inspect our factory, and both have shown approval for the high standards of cleanliness and quality they found there, remarking that our facilities go beyond their expectations.