Is Wet Pet Food a Low-Acid Food?

by Naomi Millburn
    Protein is crucial for proper growth in dogs.

    Protein is crucial for proper growth in dogs.

    Chris Amaral/Photodisc/Getty Images

    You might adore your pet to pieces, but at the same time you might have no clue what goes into making those cans of turkey, chicken, and potatoes and beef he anticipates so much. You can know, however, that his commercial wet food is produced in compliance with specific low-acid guidelines.

    Indeed a Low-Acid Food

    Wet pet food, by definition, is low in acid, according to the Terrestrial Animal Health Standards Commission. Wet pet food has a pH that’s higher than 4.6. All foods that have pH measurements of over 4.6 are classified as being low in acid. The pH levels of food refer to their natural acidity. Some foods are by nature more acidic than others. Citrus fruits, for example, are highly acidic, with components such as citric acid. Meats are naturally low in acid, whether fish, chicken or beef. Canned pet foods are based around meat, whether fully or partially. Dogs require meat for optimal health, as it provides them with vital protein via amino acids. Although meat is indeed a low-acid food on the whole, its amino acid levels are relatively substantial.

    The FDA Has a Say

    The FDA instructs pet food manufacturers to observe the agency's low-acid canned pet food preparation standards, which require the use of pressure canners. When pet food companies abide by these standards, it indicates that the food is devoid of viable bacteria. When it comes to foods that are low in acid, high heat levels are necessary, and pressure canners apply significant amounts of heat onto foods. Higher heat successfully destroys spores of bacteria.

    Killing Potentially Harmful Organisms

    When pet food manufacturers act in accordance with the FDA's low-acid rules for canned food, their products are ostensibly appropriate for pets to eat, whether the meat used was chicken, beef or byproducts. The organization's Center for Veterinary Medicine believes that the temperatures involved in the low-acid procedure effectively kill organisms that can potentially lead to disease. High heat, for example, prevents bacteria such as Clostridium botulinum from staying alive in canned pet food. The presence of this bacterium can lead to botulism in pets -- a type of parasitic ailment.

    Failure to Comply

    When pet food manufacturers fail to comply with the low-acid standards for pet food, it's up to the Center for Veterinary Medicine to determine how to proceed in handling the situation. If the center obtains evidence that a batch of commercial pet food poses the possibility of danger to any animals that eat it, the agency works to appropriately eliminate the problem. They do this not only with problems with their low-acid guidelines but also with other key issues, including those that pertain to decaying animal matter in pet food.

    Photo Credits

    • Chris Amaral/Photodisc/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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