Here is a brief video discussing the topic of raw diets for pets. It is nicely produced
For another angle on commercial pet food, you may want to read some of Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins testimony to the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, given a month after the massive recalls of March, 2007. She used to work in the pet food production industry.
I certainly agree that nutritional and medical benefit claims ought to be based on rigorous science. This is not always true for many commercial diets, and it is even less often true for the claims of harm from these diets or the benefits of alternatives. There is no question that industry can and should do better. And there is no question that much of the anxiety about these diets is based on speculation or theory, and better evidence is needed to support dramatic changes in how we feed our pets. It is difficult, however, to see where the reosources for independant research into pet nutrition will come from. Given that industry funding comes with a significant risk of bias, where else to we find sponsorship for the research that is necessary to generate rational alternatives to current feeding practices? Right no, it appears that anyone uncomfortable with commercial diets just makes up their own theory about what our pets should be fed and starts marketing their ideas without any real evidence such as Dr. Hodgkins calls for.
It is unlikely that funding to research home-made diets will materialize, but it does not logically follow that we should accept the findings of biased research. In effect, the fox is guarding the henhouse when it comes to the pet food industry. I wonder how many people would continue feeding these diets to their pets if they actually saw the raw ingredients and the manufacturing process. There is no chance of that happening since the companies prohibit observation of their facilities.
All research is biased since we all have biases and other cognitive patterns that reduce the reliability of our individual judgement. That’s why research is needed at all. The key is evaluating the quantity and quality of the evidence available. Despite is limitations, the research generated and funded by industry is certainly superior to the near complete absence of evidence supporting most homemade diets. It is a cop out to suggest that because it is difficult to find resources to research these diets, that we must accept the claims made for these diets without evidence. And for better or worse, the burden for proving that the the existing understandings and practices should be overturned properly lies with those arguing for doing so.
The second point you make is a meaningless strawman argument. Whether or not people would be grossed out by watching a diet made has nothing to do with the safety or nutritional appropriateness of the diet.
Mike, the same argument could apply to: have you seen the raw ingredients and manufacturing process of human foods, both raw and packaged? What about the inhumane way some food animals are kept and then inhumanely slaughtered (plants not following welfare rules and laws) so that you can continue eating steak, hamburger, pork ribs, ….?
In addition to the inhumane treatment of farm animals, they are given antibiotics throughout their lives with the development of resistant strains, etc. It’s one thing when an animal catches his or her own prey in the wild. But, very different to bring home meat from the feedlot.
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