Archive for May 29, 2012
Normally, my dogs wouldn’t get food made with corn.. but this was a cookout, so I made an exception. PLEASE BE AWARE – Corn cobs are not digestible and can cause blockages if swallowed, requiring surgical removal or resulting in death for your dog. My dogs are not strong chewers or fast eaters and I watched them like a hawk. A strong chewer or a fast eater can swallow an ear of corn whole in a split second. Always dispose of your corn cobs properly to prevent a sneaky dog from getting a hold of them. And if you allow your dog to eat corn on the cob, NEVER leave your dog unsupervised – not even for a second!
Wally had a tough time figuring out how to get
the corn off the cob and into his mouth.
Lu, on the other hand, ate it off the cob
in rows, like any civilized dog should. ;)
I was recently given the opportunity to tour the Natura pet food plant in Fremont, Nebraska. Natura was founded in 1990 as a challenge issued by a veterinarian to a pet store owner. Their mission was to create the healthiest dog food possible, using wholesome, recognizable ingredients with no fillers, no artificial colors or preservatives, no by-products, and no wheat, corn or soy. Natura has always been focused on innovation – they even call their pet food plant the “Fremont Innovation Center”.
They formulated the first limited ingredient diet (California Natural Lamb & Rice), the first holistic pet food (Innova) and the first grain-free diet (EVO). In addition, they offer a brand called Healthwise, a less-expensive brand which allows you to save money without sacrificing quality, as well as Karma – a 95% organic line of pet food. They also produce a line of biscuits under the brand Mother Nature.
In 2010, Natura was acquired by Procter and Gamble. When they were acquired, not only did the public have concerns, but the employees did as well. I watched them choke back tears as they described how worried they were when they learned that the small, family-run business they had grown to love had been acquired by one of the largest conglomerates in the country.
When asked how they feel now, two years post-acquisition, they said they were relieved and have the confidence that P&G’s motive in acquiring the company was to gain a hold in the natural pet food market, not to change or cheapen the product. When asked what has changed since the acquisition, the resounding answer was “NOTHING.” They have upheld their nutrition philosophy and quality of ingredients and are continuing on the path of innovation. And with access to P&G’s resources, they’re able to press on further than ever before.
In an effort to inform pet owners and reach out to the consumers who may have concerns, Natura, once again an innovator, has launched a new transparency initiative. They are inviting people to “See Beyond the Bag” to learn where their ingredients are sourced and how they are manufactured. Their new website, www.seebeyondthebag.com offers extensive information on ingredients, nutrition, manufacturing and more.
When I toured the facility I was extremely impressed by the cleanliness and organization of the plant. Their quality control measures are outstanding. They test their ingredients before they allow them in the plant, they test again pre-production and they test yet again at the end of the production line. They store samples from each batch in their climate controlled warehouse for 15 months. This way, if a consumer has a concern or complaint, they can pull that sample, see if it matches what the consumer has described and test it as necessary.
Each batch is scanned into a computerized database and can be located with a simple click of a mouse. Though Natura has never had a recall, they do practice “mock” recalls on a regular basis. And due to the way each batch is scanned in the database, should the need for a recall arise, the specific batches involved can be located within a matter of hours.
They receive unscheduled annual inspections by AIB International and have rated Superior for 8 years in a row. They are ISO 9001 and 22000 compliant, which means they pass rigorous testing for food safety standards. They are also certified by the USDA for organic food production.
Overall, I was highly impressed by the candor of the employees, as well as the facility itself. I was able to see the actual ingredients as they were being put into a batch of food – and yes, they really do put beautiful whole, fresh produce in their food as seen in the video on their website: http://www.seebeyondthebag.com/manufacturing.
I will say that Natura is making some changes, but only for the better. You will see new Innova formulas on the shelves by the end of the summer. They’re removing potatoes and white rice from their formulas and adding more meat, as well as whole grains like brown rice, barley and oatmeal. You’ll also see some changes to their “low fat” formula – it’s being renamed “weight management”, which more accurately describes the diet.
Lu and Wally eat a rotating diet of various grain-free brands. Innova Prime and EVO will be among the brands in our rotation in the future and I would certainly feel confident in recommending any of Natura’s products to my friends and family.