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Is It True That Kibbles Are Just Burnt Brown Balls?

Is It True That Kibbles Are Just Burnt Brown Balls?

The truth is, dry food often gets a bad rap. Maybe you’ve heard that kibble is void of nutrition, not having the vitamins and proteins needed to keep a dog in tip top health. Sometimes described as being over-cooked and super processed, you may have even heard dry food called ‘fast food’ for dogs!

So, is this really true? Well, whilst commercially made kibble can indeed be burnt brown balls with little nutrition to offer, dry food in itself can be a great choice for your dog. The difference lies not just in the ingredients used, but also in how the kibbles are actually made. 

Far from the doggy equivalent of a burger and fries, dry food that’s made with respect for high-quality ingredients can be a convenient yet nutritious feeding option. Still not convinced? Let’s take a look behind the scenes at how kibble comes to be…

How is Commercial Kibble Made?

When we talk about ‘commercial kibble’, we mean those big bags of nicely-priced kibbles that you see lining your local supermarket shelves. Whilst the ingredient lists and nutrition claims can vary hugely from brand to brand, the way this mass-produced dry food is made is largely the same.

So, where does the meat in these kibbles actually come from? Often, the animal-product element of commercial kibble comes not from fresh, whole meat, but instead from what we know as ‘meat meal’. 

Whilst meat meal can come from good-quality, clearly identified sources, a lot of meat meal that goes into mass-produced dry food is made from slaughterhouse waste. This refers to all of the rather-not-think-about-it parts of the animal that would never make their way onto human’s plates…

These animal by-products are loaded up into a lorry and transported at room temperature to a rendering plant. As the animal products aren’t refrigerated during transport, they need to be processed at extremely high temperatures when they arrive to kill off the bacteria and parasites that have started to multiply.

This process of turning unidentifiable animal products into meat meal is called rendering. During this process, the animal raw materials are ground and cooked in a large vat, usually with steam, for a period of 40 to 90 minutes at temperatures of up to 150ºC. 

Moisture is removed and pressure is applied to separate the melted fats from the protein and bone solids. Following the cooking and fat separation, the mix is processed again to get rid of excess moisture before it’s ground down to form a powder. 

The powder is then added to other ingredients - including cereals, preservatives and colourants - to make a dough. Finally, the dough is dried, cooled and cut into kibbles before being spray coated and packaged up ready for the supermarket shelves.

What Are The Problems With This Way of Making Dry Food?

It’s not just the grisly prospect of serving up slaughterhouse waste to our dogs that makes mass-produced dry food so problematic. 

Firstly, it’s hardly surprising that torching food with high heat depletes its nutritional value. In fact, it’s known that the temperatures used during the standard rendering process can alter or destroy proteins found in raw ingredients.

And It’s not just protein that gets scorched. Amino acids, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants - all those essential nutritional components needed to support a dogs’ muscles, coat, eye health and immune function - are depleted during high-temperature cooking. 

The temperatures used during the rendering process can induce extensive protein oxidation. This makes it harder for dogs’ digestive enzymes to break down any protein that remains in the food, fundamentally decreasing protein digestibility.

In order to prevent meat meal from going rancid, antioxidants must be added during the production process. Whilst it’s perfectly possible to use natural antioxidants - for example vitamin E and rosemary oil - many commercial dry foods use artificial antioxidants that are highly controversial. 

Chemicals such as BHT, BHA and Propyl Gallate are added to mass-produced dog food more than we might imagine. Extensively linked to cancer formation in rats, there is a whole host of concerns about how they damage dogs’ health.

Doesn’t sound very stomachable? That’s because it isn’t, even for your dog. In fact, after the cooking process, many commercial dog food producers actually coat dry food with flavour enhancers to make it smell and taste palatable to our pooches. 

And as most dog owners will know all too well: our furry friends aren’t usually known for being picky about what they wolf down!

So, Is There Another Way to Make Dry Food? 

The great news is: yes, there is! There are ways to make dry food that not only uses high-quality ingredients, but also respects and protects the proteins and nutrients naturally found in fresh meat. 

By using high-quality, known sources for meat and caring for it as we would fresh food intended for human consumption, it’s possible to avoid scorching temperatures during the cooking process. 

This gentle cooking protects the proteins and enzymes found in the meat. As a result, it can be a complete and convenient source of high-quality nutrition.

And, naturally appetising, there’s no need to add a cocktail of artificial additives or flavour enhancers to make your dog want to tuck right in. 

How We’re Making Kibble Differently McDug Nutrition 

Here at McDug Nutrition, we’re on a mission to shake up how dry food is made and show just how conveniently nutritious it can be for our four-legged friends!

To start with, all of our kibbles are jam-packed with responsibly sourced fresh meat. Partnering only with trusted farms and fisheries, we source top-quality beef, lamb, chicken and fish. These ingredients are transported in refrigerated lorries to maintain freshness and get rid of any need to torch them with high heat. 

Then, in our meat kitchen, we gently cook each meat at around 82ºC (180ºF) to protect the natural proteins and ensure maximum digestibility and nutritional value for our canine companions. 

The result? A convenient and naturally delicious dry food that you know is giving your dog everything they need to stay healthy and full of energy.

You can find McDug Nutrition’s range of unique recipes right here 

And if you’d like to know more about deciphering dry food labels and ingredients, why not read our post all about it here? 

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