Maximizing Nutrients and Digestibility: The Role of Ingredient Sourcing and Processing in Pet Food

When it comes to choosing the best food for your pet, there are many factors to consider. One of the most important is ingredient sourcing and processing methods.

The quality of ingredients and the way they are processed or cooked can have a big impact on the palatability, digestibility, and nutritional value of pet food.

In this blog post, we'll discuss why ingredient sourcing and processing methods matter and how they can affect your pet's overall health.

What is Ingredient Sourcing?

Ingredient sourcing refers to the process of obtaining the raw ingredients used in products. In our case, this is the sourcing of our ingredients to use in our delicious, gently cooked meals! 

fresh ingredients

It involves selecting and purchasing ingredients from suppliers, whether they be local, regional, or international, and then ensuring that they meet certain quality standards.

Ingredient sourcing also involves verifying the origins of the ingredients, checking for potential contaminants, and ensuring that the ingredients are handled and stored properly to maintain their quality and ensure food safety.

The sourcing process is an important part of making our meals at Tom&Sawyer, as the quality and safety of the ingredients can affect the final product's nutritional value, palatability, and safety for pets.

What Are Factors Involved in Ingredient Sourcing at Tom&Sawyer?

Ingredient sourcing is crucial for the making of our high-quality pet meals. The quality and safety of ingredients can vary widely depending on the source, which is why our chefs pay close attention to the sourcing process.

fruits and vegetables

Finding trustworthy suppliers that can deliver fresh, high-quality, and safe ingredients for our meals is a priority for us at Tom&Sawyer. We do our best to find suppliers that are local, and specifically, Canadian! However, some of our ingredients must be sourced internationally. No matter where our suppliers are, they must follow strict guidelines for the cultivation, harvesting, and transportation of ingredients.

Another important aspect of ingredient sourcing is verifying the origins of the ingredients and checking for potential contaminants. For example, ingredients need to be free of heavy metals, pesticides, or other harmful substances that could pose a risk to pet health.

Our suppliers also need to ensure that the ingredients are handled and stored properly to maintain their quality and safety. This includes monitoring factors such as temperature, humidity, and exposure to light, which can all affect the stability of certain ingredients.

Place an order

Other factors that are important to us here at Tom&Sawyer:

1) Ingredients need to be non-GMO. While there is not enough research to say definitively that there are negative long-term health consequences to non-GMO foods for our pets, we just don’t feel it is worth the risk!

2) Certified Organic when possible! Oftentimes, organic can mean more sustainable farming practices, and may reduce exposure to synthetic fertilizers or chemicals that could pose health or allergy risks for our pets.

dog with banana                                                                 Photo by Karsten Winegeart 

3) Human-Edible Ingredients: We don’t want to feed our pets anything that we wouldn’t eat ourselves, and that is why our ingredients must be human-edible!

Overall, ingredient sourcing plays a crucial role in the production of high-quality and safe pet food. By selecting and purchasing ingredients from reputable suppliers and verifying their quality and safety, we can ensure that pets receive the maximum nutritional benefits from their food while minimizing the risk of adverse health effects.

What is Processing?

Processing in this context of pet food refers to the methods used to turn raw materials into a finished pet food product. This can involve several steps, such as grinding, mixing, heating, cooling, and packaging.

One of the primary goals of processing is to ensure that the final product is safe and free from harmful pathogens, bacteria, and other contaminants that could pose a risk to pet health. This is achieved through methods such as cooking, which can help eliminate harmful bacteria, and sterilization, which can kill any remaining microorganisms.

cooked dog food

Processing also plays a critical role in ensuring that pet food meets certain nutritional requirements. For example, some nutrients in pet food may be more easily absorbed by pets if they are cooked or processed in a specific way, whereas other nutrients may be better absorbed when ingredients are not cooked. For example, high-heat processing can destroy certain nutrients, such as vitamins and amino acids.

Therefore, processing can help improve the digestibility and palatability of pet food, making it more appealing to pets and easier for them to digest and absorb the nutrients they need.

What Are Factors Involved in Processing at Tom&Sawyer?

The way that pet food is processed can also have a big impact on its nutritional value. Here are some key factors to consider when it comes to processing methods:

1) Heat Processing or Cooking: Most pet foods are heat-processed at extremely high heats, for example, dry food kibbles. This can destroy some of the nutrients in the food and may reduce the digestibility of the nutrients left. We use gentle cooking methods to preserve the nutrients and in many of our ingredients, this can actually make the nutrients inside more digestible for your pet!

kangaroo food for dogs

2) Freshness: Fresh food is more nutritious than food that has been sitting on a shelf for months. This is why we make our meals in small batches. By flash-freezing our meals, we also negate the need for harmful preservatives. Our meals can be kept frozen for up to 18 months, but once thawed, our meals are safe in the fridge for up to four days. 

3) Additives: Many pet foods contain artificial preservatives or other additives that can be harmful to your pet's health. As mentioned above, we freeze our meals to remove the need for harmful additives. Natural preservatives can also include vitamin E or rosemary extract, which help keep the fatty acids from going bad! 

Why Does Ingredient Sourcing and Processing Methods Matter?

The quality of the ingredients and the way they are processed can have a big impact on the digestibility and nutritional value of pet food. Here are some reasons why ingredient sourcing and processing methods matter: 

1) Digestibility: High-quality, whole-food ingredients are more digestible than lower-quality ingredients. This means that your pet will be able to absorb more of the nutrients in the food, which can lead to better overall health. 

Classic Pork Stew for dogs

2) Nutrient Density: Foods that are made with high-quality, whole-food ingredients are more nutrient-dense than foods made with lower-quality ingredients. This means that your pet will be getting more of the important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that they need to stay healthy.

3) Allergies and Sensitivities: Some pets may have allergies or sensitivities to certain ingredients. By choosing high-quality, whole-food ingredients, you can avoid some of the common allergens, such as corn or wheat.

Choosing the best food for your pet involves more than just looking at the nutritional information on the label. It's important to consider the quality of the ingredients and the way they are processed. By choosing high-quality, whole-food ingredients and minimally processed foods, you can help ensure that your pet is getting the maximum nutrients from their food and avoid potential allergens and sensitivities.

As always, it's important to consult with your veterinarian to determine the best diet for your individual pet's needs.

Written by: Hannah Godfrey
Animal Nutritionist
BSc.H. | MSc. Animal Nutrition

Start a subscription