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Denatured Meat & HPP

By: Mia Lund, Jasmine Hall & Emily Hendren

Denatured Meat and 4D

When switching to raw most of us think we are choosing a healthier path for our companions than a highly processed commercial dry or wet food would offer. However, we are also often of course looking for good deals and tempted to pick up what may look like real bargains. But what may look like great offers may not be that good when looking a bit closer... We may actually be choosing a “feed” instead of “food” for our pets!

So what is the difference between a “feed” and a food grade pet food? 4D meats are classified as “feed grade” and do not need to be inspected or approved by USDA or FDA and they include these animals:


So these are animals found diseased, down (can’t walk), dying or dead in the field, feedlot, or poultry lot and have always been allowed to be used in pet food and also now sneaking into raw meat suppliers, especially co-ops.

In order to keep these meats out of the human grade food chain, they have to be denatured by law. Agents used as denaturants in USDA inspected facilities include:

Powdered charcoal or black dyes. 
Charcoal liquid
Crude carbolic acid
Cresylic disinfectant
FD & C no.3 green, no.1 blue or no.2 blue
Kerosene, fuel oil or used crancase oil
*Other proprietary substance’ approved by the USDA;

*Since the USDA furthermore allows chemical manufacturers the freedom to use ‘other proprietary denaturants, some companies create their own products and that way they become “trade secrets”....

Now charcoal may sound pretty OK , as it’s used medically in poison cases, but it’s not something that should be ingested as an everyday thing as it affects absorption negatively and can make your companion nutrient deficient. Green tripe, for example, could come from healthy cows or 4D animals, but a lot of it is going to be denatured because green tripe is not deemed fit for human consumption.

What is HPP?

HPP stands for High Pressure Pasteurization. This process goes by a few different names:

Hydrostatic High Pressurization (HHP)

High Hydrostatic Pressure Pasteurization (HHPP)

Ultra High Pressure Processing (UHP)

How high is this pressure?

Higher than being crushed in the deepest part of the ocean. Over 8 tons per square inch!

What does HPP do to packaged raw foods?

Basically HPP wipes out bacteria by using an extreme amount of pressure after the food has been packaged. If there were any bacteria in that packaged raw food when it went into this high pressure environment, they wouldn’t make it. Their cell walls would cave in.

Isn’t that good though, if bacteria like salmonella gets killed?

The outcome of all this pressure on the food is not entirely a good thing. Sure, the bacteria got wiped out but so did other things that are in there like:

  • Enzymes, the molecules that are present in raw food and help our pets digest it are lost. Enzymes are one of the reasons raw food is so good for our pets. Lose them, and the animal will have to use their own enzyme storage to breakdown the food.Think of their Enzyme storage as a bank that doesn’t take deposits but only withdrawals. Once the storage is “over drawn,“ the pancreas will now have to go into overdrive in order to digest these foods. This is also called “enzyme robbing”...

  • Other proteins are denatured by this much pressure. They no longer have any resemblance to raw (prey), the food your dog/cat is genetically designed to eat!

  • The “good bacteria” that would help add to the defenses of your dog’s gut flora population are wiped out as well.

  • Reportedly flavor, texture and color are all impaired in HPP processing.

Recent findings:

There are now bacteria that survive this pressure, and they have reproduced and passed on that mutation, and just like we have had “super bugs” from the overuse of antibiotics, we now have strains of Salmonella that will not be killed by HPP. There is not enough pressure to kill these elite strains of herculean bacteria. So, companies are now adding high heat and even irradiation to the pasteurization process, which, as you can guess, further tortures the starting material and maybe even bring the packaging plastic chemicals into your dog’s raw food!

This all sounds like cooked/processed food now doesn’t it?

What is a better solution then?

  • DIY--Start making the meals yourself by sourcing human grade, high quality meats. This way you know what is in it and where it came from. If you can’t DIY due to time or just the worry of not balancing properly, then research what companies don’t use this process of HPP on their products.

  • Practice safe and sufficient hygiene.

  • Keep the work spaces cool. The warmer the space, the more bacteria will grow.

  • Keep everything clean and disinfected.

Simple right!?

All of this is much better than feeding food that has been subjected to vastly unnatural amounts of pressure (and heat and irradiation) in the name of “no bacteria!”

What companies use HPP on their food?

(Update 12/27/2019)

In the U.S.:

  • Bravo

  • Primal

  • Northwest Natural’s

  • Stella and Chewy’s

  • Nature's Variety Instinct

  • Vital Essentials

  • Blue Ridge Beef

  • We Feed Raw

  • Steve's Real Food

​In Canada:

  • Nature’s Variety

  • Primal

  • Stella and Chewy’s

​In the U.K.:

None found that uses HPP. Go U.K.!!

In New Zealand:

Kiwi Kitchens (Petnutrition NZ)

Buying pre-made/complete raw foods is a great way to save time and not having to worry about balance as it’s done for you. Just don’t let fears of bacteria scare you away from feeding the right raw foods from the right raw suppliers. Thousands, if not millions of pets have been and are eating this way on a daily basis, with no ill effect. Dogs, just like wolves have a digestive system capable of dealing with those nasties. If they eat some, they’ll pass it in their poop. Odds are high that the dogs consuming salmonella are resistant to the sickness it can bring us humans. Their highly acidic stomach pH, short digestive tract that moves all that right on through, absorbs the good stuff and sends the rest out the rear end! Salmonella just gets digested or moves on through too, it doesn’t make the average dog sick.

Our final recommendations,

Avoid the HPP and denatured foods. Research the right companies if going the pre-made/complete route. Practice safe and efficient hygiene. Easy peasy!


Source material: Vital Animal Pack's Special Report by Dr. William Falconer. 'Is your raw food really raw?'


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