Frequently Asked Questions
WHY SHOULD I FEED RAW?
Dogs and Cats at the core of their diets are carnivores. Feeding raw muscle meats, organs, and bones offer proteins, fats and enzymes that are more biologically available for your pet to utilize. Leaving these nutrients in their natural and unaltered state is what makes feeding raw beneficial.
Feeding closer to your companion’s natural diet will release abounding health benefits noticeable in the coat and skin, oral health, and general well-being of your pet.
WHY BLUE RIDGE BEEF?
Our commitment to quality, service, and safety has shaped our companies proud history in providing consumers with a premium raw pet food.
Since 1979 our family has used only the highest quality, USA sourced meats and organs available. Our raw materials are sourced from USDA certified and inspected human consumption plants while we also choose to source some meats locally to support our communities; where they are then processed in our state of the art USDA registered and FDA inspected facilities using the same quality control standards as human consumption.
I want to start feeding raw, but I don’t know how to get started
Read this document: Some raw feeding ideas
I WOULD LIKE TO TRY THE PRODUCT OUT AND SEE IF MY PET LIKES IT BEFORE I COMMIT TO BUYING A 30LB CASE.
You can purchase 2lbs tubes or chubs of many of the Blue Ridge Beef products at these local pet stores.
I’VE GOT A SMALL PET AND 30LBS OF FOOD WOULD LAST A LONG TIME. CAN I BUY THE PRODUCT IN SMALLER QUANTITIES?
You can purchase 2lbs tubes or chubs of many of the Blue Ridge Beef products at these local pet stores.
SHOULD I COOK THEIR RAW FOODS?
We do not recommend cooking our raw products because the whole object of feeding for health is to maintain optimum nutritional sources as best as humanly possible. Enzymes and nutritional values are lost in the cooking process.
Is my dog or cat too old or too young to feed a raw diet?
Its never too soon or too late to start your pet with a fresh raw diet! Many puppies and kittens are weaned onto a raw diet. Also there are countless stories of adult dogs and cats have successfully switched. No time like the present!
HOW DO I TRANSITION MY PET?
● Day 1-3: 25% Blue Ridge Beef food with 75% current diet
● Day 4-6: 50% Blue Ridge Beef food with 50% current diet
● Day 7-9: 75% Blue Ridge Beef with 25% current diet
● Day 10 and Forward: 100% Blue Ridge Beef
Some pets may take longer or shorter times to transition.
Remember that some digestive upset is normal during a transition. This may show up as diarrhea, constipation or (very rarely) vomiting. It will eventually subside as your pet adjusts to the new food.
Will there be changes in my dog’s stool?
There may be! This will be most noticeable for the first couple weeks, while your pet’s gut microbiome is adjusting to the new foods. Many pet parents find that their pets have bowel movements less frequently and in smaller quantities on a raw food diet due to its bioavailable and nutrient dense nature.
WHAT ABOUT SAFE HANDLING?
● Treat our products the same as you would any raw meats. Wash hands, bowls, utensils, and all surfaces that came into contact of the food with hot soapy water.
● Keep our raw products away from children.
● Keep our products away from other foods.
What about Salmonella and other bacteria?
Dogs and cats have been eating both fresh kills and rotting carcasses (cats not so much) for thousands of years. They have short, extremely acidic digestive tracts, so even if our foods did contain enough harmful bacteria to make them sick, it wouldn’t be able to “stick” long enough to affect them. In terms of humans, handle raw pet foods like you would any other raw animal product – wash your hands before and after handling and clean all utensils and serving items with hot soapy water. ***Pets and humans with compromised immune systems may be at higher risk of developing illness.
HOW DO I FEED YOUR PRODUCTS?
Keep our raw foods frozen until ready to use.
If feeding the entire chub of food each feeding, thaw the chub in the refrigerator.
When portioning food for feeding, temper the chub (soft outside, solid center) and use a sharp knife to cut the chub into medallions that are the desired size/weight. Immediately place medallions that are not being fed immediately into a freezer bag and re-freeze till feeding time.
To quickly thaw chubs or prepared medallions in a bag, place in a cold water bath until thawed.
If the food is not eaten at the feeding time immediately refrigerate leftover product and feed within 24 hours.
Does raw pet food cause aggression?
This is a myth! While your dog may experience an increase in energy, due to their nutrient dense, species appropriate diet, it is more likely that they would become less aggressive than more. This has to do with the gut-brain bacteria connection – a healthy gut microbiome influences the brain just like an unhealthy one does via various hormones. A healthy body is a happy one.
WHAT IS HIGH PRESSURE PROCESSING (HPP) AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
HPP is a cold water process that applies pressure on our foods that fractures the cell walls of pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli 0157:H7, and Listeria Monocytogenes killing them while leaving all nutrients intact.
During this process in which the product is immersed in a pressurized container with water and put under 87,000 psi for a short amount of time. The product never reaches a temperature above 38°F during the process, and after a hold time the product is placed in a blast freezer for freezing.
This process effectively kills all harmful bacteria in the product while leaving proteins and enzymes intact and unchanged so pets receive the same amount of nutrition.
The need for minimally processed, microbiologically safe, chemical-free raw pet food is growing in demand exponentially. For several years the use of high-pressure process has shown to be a viable solution in the human food category and is embraced by manufacturers looking to manage the microbial environment without synthetic preservatives. However, before employing it in the SRF raw food diets it is of vital importance to understand the kinetics of HPP on nutritional validity, toxicity, and taste. For two years, Steve’s Real Food has conducted both internal research and sought out outside sources to fully understand the best practices within this process and its effect on the food.
We conducted internal testing of 95 nutrients and saw an insignificant change in nutrient value. This combined with extensive research done by 3rd parties has lead us to the conclusion that HPPed raw diets and non-HPP raw diets are bioequivalent. We also tested for the migration of toxins from plastic packaging and found no change in BHA. Finally, the additional testing on enzymatic and probiotic activity has deemed this process as a viable option to manage the microbial environment and preserve all our raw meat diets.
We conducted several tests on HPP raw meat diets and non-HPP raw meat diets to determine the effects of the process on proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, probiotics and toxins. The tests were conducted on the same lot numbers to ensure that the biological makeup of the control group and the test group were equivalent.
The objective of the tests was to first determine the effects of high-pressure process on raw meat diets, and second to identify any negative side effects that the process may produce.
We divided our testing into four different sections; nutritional, enzymatic, probiotic, and toxins.
Nutritional Tests Conducted
Prior to implementing the HPP process on our poultry, we ran two full nutritional analysis panels on chicken using the same lot for both the control group and the HPP treated group. This test consisted of 95 vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, and fiber. It was shown that there was minimal effect on all of these nutrients with the exception of 4 vitamins which had moderate losses. These losses were not significant enough to fall below the AAFCO’s recommended amount*. We continued to do regular testing going forward to achieve more data points, specifically on the ones where we found a moderate nutritional change.
Below are the percent changes for all of the AAFCO nutrients.
|Sample: Raw Chicken Diet||Amount Changed|
|Vitamin A (Retinol)||-176||IU/kg|
As shown, 67% of the nutrients had an increase in value while only 17% had decreases. There are only four nutrients with losses greater than 20% which did flag concern. However, after further research, we found that these nutrients were in such abundance that we were still far above AAFCO guidelines.
Below is a breakdown of the nutrients with losses greater than 20%.
|Vitamin||AAFCO Minimum|| |
|Vitamin A (Retinol)||5000 IU/kg||5538 IU/kg|
|Pantothenic acid||12 mg/kg||13.1 mg/kg|
|Pyridoxine||1.5 mg/kg||1.7 mg/kg|
|Vitamin B12||0.028 mg/kg||0.169 mg/kg|
*We have updated the formulas as follows to ensure that in the HPP formula these vitamins are met in abundance above the AAFCO minimums.
- Increased Liver for more Vitamin A
- Increased Organ Meat overall for more Pantothenic Acid and Vitamin B12
- Increased the Muscle Meat for more Pyridoxine and Vitamin B12
It is noted that the calcium and phosphorus levels increase. This increase is not of concern due to the CA:PH ratio maintained within the optimal level of 1-2:1. However, due to the need to increase the meat and organ levels, we have reduced the raw bone which in turn maintains our calcium and phosphorus levels.
Nutritional Tests Summary: There were minimal reductions in minerals and slight reductions in four vitamins of which we have made formula adjustments to account for the changes.
Enzymes Tests Conducted
Enzymes are critical in our raw food diet and are one of the main elements that make a raw diet more nutritious than a lightly cooked diet. It is of critical importance that we understand the effect of high-pressure pasteurization on enzymatic activity. To achieve this goal we conducted both internal tests on our raw diets and researched 3rd party studies that contained extensive testing on food-derived enzymes.
Our internal testing was done on the raw chicken diet. We tested the enzymatic activity on the same lot of food prior to HPP and post HPP. The results were definitive that the HPP process had an insignificant effect on enzymatic activity. This was then supported by the third-party research we found.
In a study by “Pressure-Induced Inactivation of Selected Food Enzyme” published in the Journal of Food Science it was found that enzymatic activity has little degradation after the HPP process using a pressure of 600 MPa. The study was conducted to find out at what pressures the enzymes would have to be put under to become fully inactivated. Most enzymes required an MPa of 800 or more for long periods of time. They tested many pressures, temperatures, and immersion mediums to fully understand the effect of HPP on enzymatic activity.
They found that at ultra-high pressures such as 900MPa, there was a quick degradation in enzymatic activity reaching 100% by 5 minutes. However, by reducing the pressure and temperature, the enzymes become more stable.
One of the tests was done on the enzyme pectinesterase. A pressure of 600MPa was applied for 2 minutes at 45 Celsius and it resulted in a reduction in the activity of only 10%.
They also tested enzymatic activity in bovine milk and found that it had a protective effect. Under the same parameters stated above, the enzymatic activity had no change when tested in milk. This could be an indicator as to why our internal test showed no change in enzymatic activity.
The pressure and time that is used with our High-Pressure Technology (600MPa @ 160 sec.) are similar to what was used in this study. We do the process at a much lower temperature but it was found that under 45 Celsius, the temperature did not have an effect on enzymatic activity. Due to the similar parameters used in the study and the similar outcomes we found in our internal tests, it is determined that enzymatic activity is not affected using our High-Pressure Technology.
Enzyme Tests Summary: After doing internal testing and researching 3rd party testing we have deducted that there is no change to enzymatic activity using out HPT.
There have been a lot of studies on how High-Pressure Pasteurization is proven to be highly effective in inactivating pathogenic bacteria and so it is important to understand its effect on healthy probiotic bacteria. There are very few studies on this but from what we found, the Lactobacillus genera of bacteria are very pressure resistant. One study cited in the article “New Insights into the High-Pressure Processing of Meat and Meat products” found that Lactobacillus only had a 2 log reduction which was regained after 6 days of chilled storage. This can be compared to Salmonella which at the same pressure had a 4 log reduction and no recovery after 60 days of chilled storage or E. Coli in raw meat that achieve total inactivation at 700MPa for 5 minutes.
Hyperbaric, the manufacture of high-pressure machinery cites a study where it was found that yogurt cultures stay active after an HPP process using 500 MPa, while mold cultures are inactivated. This study was done by a company that used it to attain patent US78549500B2.
Probiotics Effects Summary: The testing that has been done has shown little effect on the pressure-resistant “good bacteria”.
A primary concern when pressurizing food in a plastic bag is the migration of toxins from packing to the food. The packaging that is used during the HPP process is certified BPA free, however, we wanted to be certain toxins where not being leached. We tested two batches of Turkey Diet and found that there were no detectable toxins leached from the packaging to the food. This is discussed further below.
Additional Research and Discussion
There is a lot of research on High-Pressure Processing, particularly on how it affects pathogens. In this comprehensive article, New Insights into the High‐Pressure Processing of Meat and Meat Products, there is a lot of useful information that covers the aspects of HPP and its biological effect on foods. This article provides information on both raw and cooked foods, juices, purees, and other food products. It also talks about the effect of HPP at different pressures, times, PH levels, and temperatures. Below is a summary of the information that is related to raw meat products using HPP processes similar to our pressure, time and temperature.
Effects of Texture
The HPP process can and is used to improve the tenderness of food. The pressurization process changes the structure of myofibrils, and other protein cells which make the meat more tender. The breakdown of the proteins increases cytosolic Ca2, increasing the intracellular fluid. Additionally, it is found the HPP process can increase the ph of post-rigor meats immediately after the pressure treatment.
Lipid oxidation leads to rancidity and off-flavors an undesirable characteristic. The high-pressure pasteurization process has shown to result in lipid oxidation if the pressure hold times are 20 minutes or more. At 600MPa, at a shorter hold time, it is shown to happen but only when the water temperatures are greater than 24 degrees Celsius (75 ℉). In a 2010 study it was found that at 600MPa for 15 minutes at 5 degrees Celsius (41 ℉), oxidation was limited significantly.
Beyond adjusting pressure and hold time, you can reduce the opportunity for lipid oxidation by eliminating the oxygen in the packaging and using vacuum-packed bags. Another practice that has shown to effectively mitigate lipid oxidation is the use of rosemary and sage extract.
Effects on Aroma
Pressure-treated beef and chicken were reported to have better aroma after 14 days of cold storage. This is attributed to the lower microbial content that would be found in pressure treated meat.
Biogenic amines (histamine, tyramine) only form in a microbial environment. High amounts of biogenic amines may have toxicological effects. The pressure pasteurization process controls the microbial environment which in turn lowers the levels of Biogenic amines.
Food that contains nitrites are most likely to result in a toxic environment after pressure treatment. Food with naturally occurring nitrites showed a decrease in the nitrite level after pressure processing.
A 2009 study showed the migration of packaging compounds into high‐pressure‐treated beef and chicken breast packed in multilayer polymeric bags. Significant migration of compounds from the plastic material was observed, but it was not enhanced by the high‐pressure treatment (400 MPa, 10 min, 12 °C). Another 2010 study showed traces of n-hexanal in HPP food, but the researchers did not state whether differences were observed between high‐pressure‐treated and untreated samples.
Bacterial inactivation has been proven via the use of high-pressure pasteurization at the proper pressures, hold times, and temperatures.
- E. Coli
- In cooked ham, dry‐cured ham, and marinated beef that was inoculated at 3.5 log CFU/g, E. coli was reduced below the level of detection during 120 d of chilled storage after a high‐pressure treatment at 600 MPa for 6 min at 31 °C
- With a raw meat – 700 MPa, 20 °C for 5 min equaled Total Inactivation
- Listeria M.
- 600 MPa at 50 degrees for 5 min resulted in 3.4 log reduction of 4
- 400 MPa at 17 °C for 10 min with 6 of 8 inoculated. No recovery during 60 d of chilled storage
Conclusion From Study
Information relating to the effects of high pressure on the bioequivalence of food are abundant and clear that the process does not have harmful nutritional effects. It is evident that under the proper pressure, temperature, and hold times, the effect on enzymes and probiotics are minimal. Thus, high pressure seems to be a desirable technology for the treatment of raw meat pet food products.
HOW MUCH SHOULD I FEED?
When feeding your companion some factors should be taken into consideration such as weight, health, age, and activity level. This assessment will help decide what food and the amount to feed
A general feeding guideline used by many pet owners for adults is two to three percent of their total body weight.
Older pets will require less fat while younger companions will need a fattier diet to help develop properly to keep up with their activity.
We have developed a feeding calculator to help give a suggested serving size based off of age or life stage your pet is in to help guide you along the way.
What is “Whole Animal Nutrition” vs. PMR?
Many of our complete diets for dogs and cats make use of the entire animal (whole animal), from the head to the feet, including all of the internal organs, the skin, the bones, the brain, all of the connective tissue, intestines, fur, and all the rest. This is the closest we can come to mimicking our pet’s wild, ancestral diet. PMR is considered a prey model diet and uses ratios to formulate the diet – usually only containing meat bones and organ.
How long does the food stay good once thawed?
Our raw meat foods can be kept thawed in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Raw goat milk and bone broth are good for 10 days. Raw goat milk kefir is good for 30 days.
What is the best way to thaw your foods?
We recommend thawing our foods on a plate or in the sink at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Do not use a microwave or other heating instrument as this may damage various nutrients. NEVER COOK ANY RAW PET FOOD THAT CONTAINS BONE.
SHOULD I SUPPLEMENT YOUR FOODS?
Depending on what route of raw feeding that you want to take your options are endless in terms of supplements.
We manufacture multiple sole proteins and meat/bone only mixes so that the addition of vitamins, minerals, and other supplements in your pet’s food is completely in your control.
We have also formulated from years of experience and trials our BRB Complete that makes complete and balanced feeding for your dog as simple as unwrapping and feeding.
Can I thaw and refreeze?
Yes! All of our foods can be partially thawed to repackage in smaller quantities and then refrozen. Please keep in mind that the food will experience about a 1% nutrient loss each time it is refrozen.
- Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats – Kymythy Schultze
- Feeding Dogs: The Science Behind the Dry Versus Raw Debate – Dr Conor Brady
How I Feed My Dog – a Question and Answer session between Judy Morgan, DVM and Billy Hoekman – Canine Nutrition Specialist