Salmonella’s defense boosted 475 times in raw dog food

Humans have been using lactic acid for thousands of years to preserve their food in the form of sauerkraut, sourdough, and other fermented foods. Lactic acid also has a history in pet food. For more than six decades, early wet pet foods used lactic acid to prevent spoilage from mold and other microbes. This chemical still works in dog and cat foods to protect the taste and help retain moisture. In the rising trend of raw pet foods, lactic acid may continue to help producers fight salmonella when used with high-pressure processing.

Lactic acid may also help kill salmonella in raw dog foods. While the popularity of raw nutrition has grown, many recalls and FDA alerts have included the products. Raw pet foods must meet strict federal regulations against pathogens, while maintaining the cruelty of the products. Conventional production and sterilization methods tend to heat foods to the point of cooking. High pressure processing provides an acceptable option for raw pet food by creating a uniformly intense force around a pet food container, usually in a sealed water tank. This pressure is transferred instantly and evenly throughout the raw pet food. Under such high pressure, pathogenic microorganisms and enzymes that spoil food are inactivated. This technique works regardless of the size and shape of the package, as long as the container can withstand the processing conditions. The stresses used in HPP cause few physical changes to the ingredients since stress does not appear to seriously affect covalent bonds (a type of attraction at the atomic scale) in foods. However, the amount of time used to process a raw product affects the energy use, cost, and physical properties of the final product. By increasing the effectiveness of high-pressure processing, lactic acid may aid the safety of raw pet food.

Try using lactic acid in raw dog food

A group of researchers used lactic acid in raw dog food where the products had undergone a high pressure processing process. Scientists conducted experiments to evaluate the effect of lactic acid on the resilience of Salmonella during high-pressure treatment. Lactic acid concentrations ranged from 0 to 7.2 g/kg. They also evaluated the effects of stress intensity and pressure retention time from 0 to 7 minutes. After four minutes of high-pressure treatment at 500 MPa, the scientists estimated the potential for salmonella contamination with a non-acidic product to be 0.03%. An additional four to six minutes under pressure reduced this probability by about 50 times. Lactic acid had a more dramatic effect.

In raw dog foods containing 3.6 g/kg lactic acid, an increase in processing time reduced the potential for salmonella contamination by 475-fold. The scientists concluded that adding lactic acid to raw pet foods may be a valuable step to reduce the potential for contamination and costly recalls.

The journal Animal Feed Science and Technology published the results of an experiment that involved lactic acid in raw dog food undergoing a high-pressure processing process.

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