What happens to the kibble after the bag is opened?
By Steve Brown and Beth Taylor
Would you keep a loaf of bread open in your kitchen for 39 days?
We hope not. That's how long an open bag of dog food typically lasts. This lengthy storage time and poor storage conditions often lead to nutrient degradation, oxidation of fats and infestation by molds, mites and other food spoilers.
Another set of numbers, as a dog owner, you want to be concerned about
: One in three dogs dies of cancer. We believe improper storage at home is a major contributing factor to that mortality rate.
Dry dog foods usually have a one-year shelf life. That means the food is good for up to one year after the manufacturing date. Many dry foods stamp a best if used by date on the package. This applies only to unopened bags, however. High-quality dog food companies use bags that provide protection from oxygen and moisture. If the bag is intact, not enough oxygen and moisture can migrate into the food in one year to cause significant oxidation or microbial growth problems.
Though there are problems that can occur between the food manufacturer and the customer opening the bag, it's what happens after the bag is opened that we are most concerned with in this article.
Here's a short list of goodies, among others, that enter the bag after it's opened:
Oxidation of fats: As Dr. Mercola has shown, oxidized fats may cause cancer and contribute to many chronic health problems in humans. The same is true for dogs.
Dog food companies use antioxidants -- sometimes vitamin E and other natural sources -- to slow down oxidation. Every time the bag is opened, however, oxygen enters. Eventually, the antioxidants are all oxidized (used up) and some of the fats are damaged, starting with the more fragile omega-3 fatty acids that better pet food companies now add to their foods.
Degradation of all micronutrients: Vitamins particularly susceptible to oxidation and damage due to long-term room temperature storage include vitamin A, thiamin, most forms of folate, some forms of vitamin B6 (pyridoxal), vitamin C and pantothenic acid. The nutritional value of the food at the bottom of a bag left open 39 days will be considerably less than the food you remove when you first open the bag. Simply put, the fresher the better.
Molds and mycotoxins: Storing open bags of dry dog food for 39 days in warm, humid areas (most kitchens) promotes the growth of mold. Some of the waste products of this mold (mycotoxins) are increasingly being linked to long-term causes of cancer and other health problems in humans, poultry, pigs and other animals. Dogs are particularly susceptible to these toxins.(1)
When dry dog foods absorb moisture from the surrounding air, the antimicrobials used by most manufacturers to delay mold growth can be overwhelmed,(2) and mold can grow. The molds that consume dry pet foods include the Aspergillus flavus mold, which produces Aflatoxin B1, the most potent naturally occurring carcinogenic substance known.(3)
People don't see low levels of mold, and most dogs can't taste it.(4) In fact, many dogs have died shortly after eating mycotoxin-contaminated foods.(5) Mycotoxins kill most dogs slowly by suppressing the immune system and creating long-term health problems in all organs of the body.(6)
Infestation: Bugs, storage mites, mice, and other unpleasant invaders thrive on dry dog food. Recent research has shown that allergic dogs are frequently allergic to the carcasses of storage mites, which may infest grains, especially those grains used in low cost dry dog foods.