If formulation is a roadmap to a successful animal nutrition product, ingredients make up the vehicle that drives it home. And while quality, price and nutrition are of vital importance, other factors also play a role when reviewing the supply chain. The free Petfood & Animal Nutrition 2.0 “The Science of Formulation" digital issue explores these topics.
Melinda Fernyhough Culver, D.V.M., Ph.D., scientific affairs manager – biosciences at ABITEC Corp., is aware of the challenges surrounding formulating safe and effective animal nutrition products, and she pointed to cost as one of the biggest obstacles. While an advocate for the role of regulation in the industry, she acknowledged the regulatory landscape also poses significant challenges.
Sandra Carter, M.A., MPH, Ph.D., CEO of M2 Ingredients, agreed. She said the regulatory scene doesn’t always provide the ability to formulate the most effective ingredients to address complex health issues. Carter also emphasized the need for brand holders to research claims that can be made regarding the activity of their product and the desired health outcome.
In terms of functional ingredients, Culver champions effective dosages. While novel ingredients can be an asset, she suggested using ingredients that have scientific or clinical evidence behind them. Food scientist Daniel Ayd of Davisco Foods agreed. Ayd said validated, unbiased, third-party research is important to assure ingredient/product effectiveness.
With no shortage of ingredients or suppliers, brand holders must choose wisely when selecting their partners. Ayd said his top recommendation is to work with a company committed to quality over price. The ability to consistently provide high-quality ingredients was also one of Carter’s top recommendations, along with validating the source of the ingredients and certificates of analysis (CoAs) from third-party laboratories.
And then there is the topic of premixes, which usually contain many different ingredients providing nutritional characteristics to food products. Tom Best, director of health, safety, environment and quality (HSEQ) for Trouw Nutrition USA, said premixes generally have better efficiencies in purchasing, blending, inventory, warehousing, handling and sourcing unique raw materials. He also said quality assurance (QA) should be the focal point of every decision made throughout the entire premixing process. Ingredients must be defined and sourced for their applied functional usage. It is the brand holder’s responsibility to ensure the company providing the nutritional integrity of its products is a competent and trustworthy partner.
But how will the product be received if it is not palatable? Palatants are flavor systems designed to make pet foods, treats and supplements taste better, ensuring pets receive the nutrients they need. According to Jennifer Radosevich, vice president of R&D and regulatory affairs teams at St. Charles, Missouri-based AFB International, dry foods use palatants more frequently and at higher inclusion rates than wet foods.
Palatants are available as dry powders and liquids, and as systems that use both dry and liquid components, Radosevich said. They can be meat- or vegetable-based and may be designed to meet a variety of claims. Palatant components include proteins, yeasts, phosphates, antioxidants, antimicrobials and processing agents, among other ingredients. They are usually applied topically to kibble in liquid or dry form, or a combination of the two.
Radosevich said the gold standard of palatant consumption testing is a paired comparison, also known as the “two-bowl" test. In this type of test, the animal is allowed to choose between two bowls of food for a pre-defined amount of time. The animal is observed, and numerous measurements are recorded. It’s important to remember that even if two products demonstrate palatability parity, it does not mean the two products are identical.
In conclusion, a lot goes in to ensuring that the foods, treats and supplements formulated for pets actually get eaten.
Find the free digital issue at petfood2.com.