View Full Version : provocative article on feeding raw/frozen

8th April 2005, 07:39 PM
NB This is from the Wysong site and they make their own food but I think the argument is worth reading. Sorry for choppy way the spacing is reproduced.

R. Wysong, DVM, V. Savant, PhD

(Dr. W) For some 25 years Dr. Wysong has alerted the public to the dangers
of exclusively feeding heat-processed foods. Not only is nutrient value
diminished by heat, but a spectrum of toxins are created. Additionally, the
singular feeding of processed food has led to the spurious “100% complete
and balanced” claim that is both logically and scientifically flawed. (This
information is available from the non-profit Wysong Institute in the form of
books, CDs and various articles).

Entrepreneurs have seized upon this information to create a spate of raw
frozen (RF) foods to capture a market niche and to fill the demand from
consumers wanting a raw alternative to standard heat processed canned,
semi-moist and dried pet foods. This market trend, as with most others, may
begin with some truth (raw food is the best food) but gets distorted, if not
perverted, once economic opportunity enters the picture. This paper will
examine the rationale of these products, their economics and dangers. A more
intelligent and healthy alternative will be proposed.

Weakened Pets And Highly Virulent Organisms – A raw state and the presence
of moisture in food provide the perfect environment for the growth of
pathogenic organisms. Although prey foods in the wild often putrefy and are
teeming with microorganisms, carnivores in the wild are immunologically
adapted to these organisms and even benefit from the probiotic effects of
some. On the other hand, domestic pets eating sterilized heat processed
foods are immunologically compromised and are threatened by mutated and
highly virulent pathogenic strains created by modern circumstances and
antibiotic resistance. Freezing at appropriate temperatures puts pathogens
in a state of arrest but does not eliminate them. Although all foods contain
some pathogens, unless they are sterilized (requiring high heat or other
measures that greatly diminish the nutritional value and create toxins), it
is the load of these pathogens that must be of concern to consumers. RF
foods are a potential reservoir and vector of large numbers of pathogens.
Producers With Only Kitchen Technology – Because of the minimal technology
required to produce a RF pet food, essentially anyone regardless of
credentials or expertise can bring a product to market. All one needs to do
is grind and mix ingredients in a kitchen, package and put in a freezer.

There are no controls over the conditions in the kitchen, the quality of the
ingredients or the method of freezing. All these factors can dramatically
influence the nutritional value and pathogenic and toxic content of the
food. But being in a frozen state hides these potential dangers and
therefore poses a threat to both pets and the humans who handle the foods.

John Doe can make a food under unknown conditions and with unknown
ingredients, label, package, freeze and deliver to consumers or stores
without one single control monitoring or impeding the process. Regulators
may eventually examine the label if they happen to see it in a store (they
will never see it if shipped directly to consumers) and object to some
terminology or the like; but, all John needs to do is change the label and
all will be well. The product could contain every manner of ingredient, be
laced with virulent pathogens, and receive the aegis of regulators … and
into the market it goes.

Raw Frozen Foods Are Not “100% Complete” – Many RF foods make (or imply) the
same spurious 100% complete claim as heat processed foods and thus carry
with them the same health dangers. Feeding any food exclusively, let alone a
nondescript packaged food containing who-knows-what from who-knows-what
manufacturing environment, is a bad choice if health and safety are of
concern. (See The Truth About Pet Foods by Dr. Wysong).

Problems Are Ignored By Producers – RF food pathogens include not only
bacteria, but fungi, viruses and parasites. Toxins include those from molds
(mycotoxins), bacteria and those created by oxidation. In our study of RF
products in the stream of commerce, not one producer addressed these
concerns with any technological know-how that we could discern, and most did
not even acknowledge the problems potentially lurking in their foods.

Freezing Masks Inedibles – Raw meat and organ tissue continues to use ATP
(source of energy) until it is exhausted and the tissue enters a state of
rigor. Endogenous enzymatic activity within the tissue continues to digest
the muscle tissue (proteolysis), softening it until it becomes tender and
develops the typical palatable taste. This process is retarded by cold. The
freezing of properly aged meat presents few problems, however, any residual
ATP present in the tissue during freezing, will contract the muscle upon
thawing resulting in a more unpalatable product. Mixed RF foods would hide
this problem.

Free Radical Problems Masked – Essential fatty acids and other health
enhancing lipids are critical in the diet. Once foods are ground, mixed,
exposed to air, light and pro-oxidants such as heme iron and other metals
found in plant and animal tissue, the contained lipids are oxidized to chain
reaction producing free-radicals, causing rancidity and oxidant toxins.
Freezing at appropriately low temperatures slows this process but does not
stop it. The temperatures in conventional freezers used for RF foods is not
insurance against such oxidation. Because the frozen state masks olfactory
detection of rancidity, foods that would be otherwise rejected end up being
consumed. The free-radical pathology potential can then work its chronic
degenerative disease and immune weakening effects.
Freezer Burn Indicates A More Serious Problem – Air reaching the meat
surface is the cause for the freezer burns that result in the typical
grayish-brown leathery spots. Frozen water on the surface or just beneath it
sublimates (from solid state directly to vapor) into the air, causing
moisture to be lost from the meat over time resulting in discoloration and a
dry, leathery texture. Proper packaging helps maintain quality and prevent
freezer burn, however most packaging is permeable to air. The prevalence of
freezer burn in RF products speaks to the fact that the product is being
oxidized and with that creating free radical toxins to lay the seeds for
various degenerative diseases.

Display Packaging Causes Free Radicals – Light, as well as air, can promote
free radical production. Retail display packaging that is clear or light
permeable permits light to catalyze the free radical (disease promoting)
Frozen Products Are Not Inert To Degradation – In frozen storage there is
deterioration in organoleptic quality – meat texture, fat turning granular
and crumbly, and discoloration. Microbial enzymes also remain active,
especially lipases that break down fats increasing their susceptibility to

Frozen Foods Can Lead To Acidemia – Tissue degradation and oxidation under
high heat freezing (above 29° F), which occurs along the supply chain with
most RF products, also leads to acidification. Increasing acid consumption
can contribute to acidemia that lies at the base of virtually every chronic
degenerative disease plaguing modern pets. (See reference below.)
Temperature And Time Are Critical – Ice nucleation, as opposed to ice
crystallization, is the primary vector in producing a stable, tasty, frozen
product. Freezing is a technically complex process based on the optimum
combination of temperature and time, amongst other factors. In the wrong
processor’s hands, slips in proper freezing care can lead to a
microbiologically unstable product and/or a sensory inferior one. Rapid
freezing leads to nucleation, thereby preventing undesirable large ice
crystals from forming throughout the product. With rapid freezing the
molecules don’t have time to form positions in the characteristic six-sided
snowflake, so nucleation overrides crystallization. On the other hand, slow
freezing (the usual RF situation) creates large ice crystals, which on
thawing causes cellular damage to the meat. This in turn causes meat to
“drip” – lose juiciness – and form a perfect liquid medium for bacterial

The High Risk In Thawing – Thawing is another critical phase in the freezing
process as it involves a change from crystal ice to melted water, which upon
reabsorption results in microbial reactivation. Pathogenic bacteria
inherently contaminate raw meat, fish, and poultry and will begin to
multiply again when the temperature reaches just 29.3º F – which is below
freezing! Thus a product that may appear subjectively frozen could be a
veritable incubator of pathogens. When consumers attempt to thaw RF foods,
dangers dramatically increase. The surface temperature rises long before the
interior is sufficiently thawed to serve. For example, it takes about 15
hours for the middle of a 22-pound turkey to get to 32º F. In the interim
the surface temperature rises to 53º F. In this amount of time there would
be about 4 multiplications of spoilage bacteria as well as non-detectable
multiplications of pathogens.

The FDA Model Food Code (1999) recommends that food be thawed in the
refrigerator or in flowing water. Thawing RF food in the refrigerator can be
inefficient and time consuming, in addition to occupying refrigeration space
required for other food items. Most of all, this lengthy procedure can lead
to the risk of cross-contamination when the drip from the raw meat comes in
contact with ready-to-eat food stored in the refrigerator. In the
alternative, consumers usually put the RF food out at room temperature,
creating the perfect circumstance for pathogen proliferation.
Undetected Freeze-Thaw Cycles – The transit time of RF food from the
processor (or John Doe’s kitchen) to the distributor, to the stores and
eventually to the consumer is very critical. Although freezer delivery
trucks might putatively maintain stable product temperatures, lack of
thermocouples fitted in the truck to show temperature readings, and/or
inadequate TTIs (time-temperature indicators) can lead to micro-biologically
infested products without any visible spoilage signs. If the refrigeration
in any part of the supply chain fails temporarily and then goes back to
frozen (freeze-thaw-freeze), the consumer would never know of this abuse and

Supply Chain Time Dangers – Time is the enemy of nutrition and safety. The
longer the time between the farmer’s field and the belly, the greater the
potential problems. RF foods create the illusion that time is not a factor.
Because the frozen state masks toxins and odors, the consumer can be given
the impression of value and freshness when, in fact, they may be getting age
and toxicity.
Microwave Thawing Dangers – If RF foods are thawed in the microwave as a
matter of convenience, the value of the food is greatly compromised.
Microwaves can virtually boil the liquid phase within cells and
electromagnetically alter important food components rendering them not only
useless nutritionally, but toxic as well.

Mycotoxins Go Undetected – RF foods, particularly those that are a mix of
cooked grains (which of course negates the claim for “rawness”) and
vegetables, can contain mycotoxins. None of the producers surveyed addressed
this problem.
Frozen Product Mixtures Make No Health Sense – In an attempt to cover every
conceivable base and not miss any opportunity for profit, many RF producers
mix every manner of ingredient. For example, watermelon, grains, persimmons,
liver, lamb, etc. Not only would creatures in the wild never eat such a
smorgasbord gruel at one sitting, such combinations in the fresh state can
cause serious digestive stress. Many of the exotic RF ingredients do not
keep well in the fresh frozen state (for example, freeze watermelon alone
and see what happens, let alone combining it with meat). Also, the
combination of fruit sugars with proteins can potentially create toxins such
as glycation end products, acrylamides (particularly in those “RF” foods
containing cooked carbohydrates) and reaction products of proteins with
plant tannins, phenols and flavonoids. Producers “throwing the book” at RF
formulations in desperate attempts to capture market share make evident
their motives and their scientific, health and technical naiveté.
Parasites Are Ignored – A wide range of parasites can be found within RF
foods. Although there is technology in terms of freezing and natural
ingredients that can be used to thwart this problem, none of the producers
examined employed any of it that we could detect.

The best packaging for any food, particularly RF foods, is light-and
oxygen-barrier and modified atmosphere flushed. In the absence of this,
oxidation proceeds rendering the lipids toxic. None of the producers
surveyed employed these technologies that we could detect. Even if they did,
the other problems and dangers listed above would remain.

We live in an age of pollution and energy diminishment. RF foods require
a tremendous amount of refrigeration and equipment all along the supply
path. Freezing is energy inefficient and consumes valuable energy resources.
Since RF foods are 70% water (at least) there are huge resources wasted in
freezing and transporting the tons of this food-contained water through the
supply chain. Along with all the equipment, trucking, freezing and frozen
water handling inefficiency comes the pollution that parallels such

In order to make their foods anywhere near affordable, RF producers must
search the ingredient market for items that can carry the name of real food
but may in fact be only a hollow shell of the real thing. Inferior meat and
organ ingredients, heat processed grains and vegetable riffraff (for example
“broccoli” on a label may really be broccoli stems–like eating a branch from
an apple tree rather than the apple) are used because they are of low cost.
That is not to say the marketing brochures and labels do not make it appear
as though the brand is not a true gourmet meal. If one reviews the various
labels it becomes clear that the race is on to see who can put the fanciest
and most exotic ingredients on labels ... as if that is the road to pet
health. (It is not.) In a brief ingredient survey this is what we found:

Every manner of “pureed” vegetable
Organic beef, rabbit, chicken, turkey, goat, lamb, duck, pork
Organic honey
Organic papaya, persimmons, blueberries, oranges, apples, pears
Organic yogurt
Organic alfalfa, millet, quinoa and barley sprouts
Wheat grass
Bok choy
Cultured kefir
Cod liver oil

The reader is challenged to go to the store and total up the cost of such
ingredients. Some of the organic ingredients can cost over $15 per pound.
But the RF diets containing them can retail for as little as $2-4 per pound.
Take away margins for distributors and retail stores and the producer is
selling them wholesale for close to a dollar per pound. Now on top of the
cost of ingredients is the production, advertising, packaging, freezing and
in some cases a sales force making six figures. Something most certainly
does not add up. The only thing that can be missing is true ingredient
quality. But how can the label say these expensive ingredients are in the
food? All the producer needs to do is put in pinches of the expensive
ingredients just to say they are there.

The only economic hope for a RF producer is to create the perception of
“value added.” They simply could not put the costly ingredients in the food
to any degree and make a profit for themselves and all the middlemen up and
down the chain. The price they would have to charge would be ridiculous. In
effect, in order to be successful, producers must become accomplished at
propaganda, not health and nutrition.

Consumers interested in cutting through to the truth do themselves and
their pets a service by going to the grocery store with a list of the
ingredients ostensibly in a RF diet. Although some RF diets in the lower
price range appear to not be attempting to mislead, consumers should do the
math comparing the exotic ingredients in RF pet foods to the prices for the
real thing in the store and decide for themselves whether either value or
honesty resides there.

Consumers are under the mistaken assumption that a nondescript package
mix of ingredients with an officious label and from a producer posing as a
nutritional authority (none of the producers we examined had people at the
helm with expertise or credentials) would be the best choice. Little do they
realize that they could avoid essentially all of the caveats listed above by
simply going to the grocer and buying fresh meats and produce. Pets do not
require every nutrient in existence at every meal, as is the impression
given by the 100% complete RF producers and for that matter the rest of the
pet food industry. Why would people choose to pay a producer to mix inferior
ingredients, package them, label them, freeze them, transport them,
advertise them and pay the margin for the producer, the distributor, sales
force and the retailer when they can avoid all that cost and put their money
into real quality fresh foods? Some people are so convinced that RF
manufacturers perform some sort of magic that they will pay to have such
foods put in special insulated containers packed with dry ice and overnight
delivered! This is particularly ridiculous when one considers that no real
convenience–and certainly no health or nutritional value–is added in the
process. The consumer still has to go to the store and buy something.

At the grocer a person can buy fresh, raw, untainted meats and produce
appropriate for pet carnivores at less than $1 per pound. Slightly
out-of-date meats, sale items, trimmings or other still excellent products
that cannot be put in the meat case can be even less. True, if you are to
purchase the ingredients listed above in perfect human grade organic form
(as many RF producers boast) the cost could be far greater. But at least you
would know what you are getting. RF foods can cost as much as $7 per pound
with an average of about $3-4 per pound (not including shipping to the
customer’s door) and most of that cost is going into freezing,
transportation and profits through a whole chain of participants. Here is a
case where a consumer gets to pay more (a whole lot more) and get less (a
whole lot less). Isn’t marketing a wonderful thing?

A Better Alternative
Fresh foods fed in variety are without question the perfect form of
nutrition. Appropriately designed supplements to help reduce the risk of
food-borne pathogens and oxidation, and to help balance high meat meals and
provide a spectrum of vegetable-based nutrients and nutraceuticals such as
Wysong has developed can also be of great benefit. Anything less than this
is a compromise. The next best alternative is packaged dried raw foods -
that have incorporated in them food technology to impede pathogens,
parasites and oxidation. The low water activity of these products is a great
inhibitor of pathogens and the low level of moisture make storage and
shipping efficient and environmentally friendly. (Wysong Archetypeâ„¢ is the
only such technology presently on the market.) Good quality table scraps and
properly designed dried extruded and canned foods (see the Wysong line
incorporating health-first nutritional technology) can be mixed into the
diet rotation with benefit as well. Consumers must learn the principles of
fresh foods fed in variety and to trust in nature. Every pet owner desires
the best for their pet and they are correct in thinking food is an essential
element in achieving that goal. But it is incorrect to believe that another
person can do more for their pet’s health than they can do themselves. All
that is required is a little understanding and use of common sense. To that
end we provide a free e-health letter, a free one-hour CD by Dr. Wysong
entitled, “The Thinking Person’s Master Key To Health,” healthy product
alternatives designed intelligently with health as the number one objective,
and books and recipes for anyone wanting to take control of their own and
their family’s and pet’s health destiny so as not be led down health
destructive primrose marketing paths.

(Note: Although the authors are associated with the technical development of
the Wysong products mentioned above, the reader should not misconstrue the
information as a commercial inducement. Wysong will teach people for free
how to fresh-food-feed using only products purchased in the meat and
vegetable aisles in the grocery. Although Wysong products provide convenient
and supplemental alternatives and variety, no Wysong product is required to
be purchased in order to achieve this superior method of feeding. The
position is taken at Wysong that health professionals [which we are] have an
ethical responsibility to help people prevent disease and thus are duty
bound to teach people how to not need their services. So that is exactly
what we do. Wysong products are a mere tool to help people along that path
to the ideal goal of health self-sufficiency.)