Recently a major class action law suit was filed against a Nestle Purina Petcare company. The lawsuit said the company’s Beneful brand dog food has killed many dogs. The lawsuit said dog food contained propylene glycol popularly known as anti-freeze and the dog food also contained mycotoxins that come from mold
Propylene glycol popularly known as anti-freeze has been used by low cost high volume large pet food manufacturers like Purina for decades.
What is the purpose of anti-freeze in pet foods?
1. Anti-freeze like propylene glycol is used as a artificial preservative in limited quantity. It is approved for human food use in limited quantity and is considered as “GRAS” (generally regarded as safe) by FDA. But it has not been tested specifically in dogs in any long term study or life span of dogs. What is safe for humans in small quantities does not necessarily mean it is safe for dogs. However a company that toots its horn as a pioneer in pet food and its slogan as “happy and Healthy pets” knew better. Basically it took advantage of this loop hole “GRAS” and liberally added anti-freeze to give its Beneful product competitive advantage
2. Propylene glycol is a humectant which means it binds water, provides lubrication and reduces water needed to process the pet food in extrusion. This also means it reduces water activity in pet foods. High water activity correlates with faster spoilage rate caused by bacteria. Lower water water activity means products are less prone to spoilage by bacteria.
3. Propylene glycol is a a cheap ingredient and available in plenty and comes from China
4. Propylene glycol acts as a insecticide. It kills mites and prevents mite infestation in extruded grain based pet foods.
5. Anti-freeze keeps kibbles soft. This gave the company a competitive advantage stating the product has dual textured kibbles (soft and dry) and gave a significant marketing advantage over its competitors
However there are many safer alternate sources of humectants available such as glycerine, fat, and others. But they will not provide all the benefits of anti-freeze like propylene glycol. Putting profits over the healthy and safety of pets is unwarranted