Small or new pet food companies often lack the resources to identify, research and develop novel pet food ingredients for themselves. These pet food companies must find the right ingredient suppliers and ask them the right questions to ensure their final products are safe, nutritious and palatable, said Ryan Yamka, PhD, of Luna Science and Nutrition at Petfood Forum 2017. He offered suggestions to help pet food professionals properly investigate a new ingredient before making a commitment to use it.

“If you have a vendor coming in, send them your list of questions ahead of time,” Yamka said. “Because, if you want to talk to the science guy, they’ll bring the science guy with them. If you want to talk to the guy that discovered it in his secret lab, they’ll bring him with them…This is by no means an exhaustive list [of questions], but it’ll get you going.”

Yamka divided his list of questions into three categories:

1. Regulatory and marketing questions for pet food suppliers

  • Is it AAFCO/FDA approved and scientifically proven safe for use in species-specific pet food

    • Sometimes suppliers may be unaware that dogs, cats and other animals have different nutritional needs than people, noted Yamka. Also, suppliers may think that is an ingredient is approved for human use, it can also be used for pets. They may be unaware of pet food regulations.
  • Is the ingredient natural, organic, sustainable and/or GMO-free?
  • What is the base ingredient’s carrier
    • Yamka warned that if an ingredient is…
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