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Pet parents nowadays want a natural, wholesome diet for their beloved canines. So more and more of them are embracing flash frozen dog food for its quality ingredients minus the hassle of preparing the food themselves daily.
Whether you are a new pet owner deciding what to feed your dog or looking to switch your pet’s diet to one that offers more health benefits, this article is for you.
Let’s delve into the topic of flash frozen dog food and answer all the questions you have.
Flash frozen is a method of preservation where meat or food products are frozen in a flash; hence the name, flash frozen. This is possible with commercial blast freezers that can lower temperature to supercool level within minutes and freeze products rapidly.
You may have been freezing food at home and think they are the same as flash freezing. They are not.
Consumer refrigerators are not designed to freeze food; they are made to keep frozen food frozen.
Let’s look at the differences between doing-it-yourself and commercial freezing.
Flash freezing is done at a much lower temperature. Commercial freezers can go as low as -40°C within minutes, which is not a temperature available with consumer freezers. Consumer freezers are at their coldest at -18°C.
Flash freezing happens quickly, in fact, almost instantaneously.
On the other hand, consumer freezers take a few hours to do the same thing. This is also known as slow freezing, even though the term is not commonly used.
The rate of freezing affects the size of the ice crystals formed. The faster the food is frozen, the smaller the ice crystals will be, the less damage this will cause, and vice versa.
Commercial flash freezing is often accompanied by vacuum packaging. The food product is placed in an air-tight pack before the air is sucked out and sealed.
There are three-fold benefits to doing this.
Commercialized flash freezing offers longer shelf life, less destruction to the meat structure, and vacuum packaging that takes care of freezer burns and prevents harmful bacteria from growing.
Food meant for dogs that have undergone flash freezing is known as flash frozen dog food. The food can be raw or gently cooked before undergoing the process.
Most of the time, food for dogs comes in the form of animal meat. You can get the more common chicken, beef, lamb, and pork, and novel, uncommon ones such as crocodile, duck, kangaroo, rabbit, turkey, and venison. Typically, the portion used comes from muscle meat, bones, and organ meats such as the liver, heart, and kidney.
Apart from steak cuts, raw meat is also minced to make patties, medallions, and cubes. Some manufacturers have included other varieties of food that are suitable for dogs into their meat products, such as:
(1) Vegetables: broccoli, carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, and celery; and
(2) Fruits: apples, watermelon, mangoes, and cranberries.
Some people are worried that feeding (thawed) raw food, particularly meat, to their pets may be harmful. Dogs are carnivores. Their digestive systems are designed to handle bones and raw meat. As a result, they produce more stomach acid and can handle bacteria better than humans can.
Flash freezing is a modern invention that comes with many benefits. It fits right in with our busy and yet health-conscious lifestyle for the following reasons.
When meat is frozen slowly, which is what happens in our consumer refrigerators, water in it becomes large ice crystals that rupture the fiber or muscle cell structure.
When meat is frozen quickly, the tiny ice crystals do not break the meat cells as much. This means less water loss when thawing, and the meat won’t have that mushy texture from slow freezing.
You will notice that all of the nutrients and juices are still inside the meat instead of getting flushed down the sink after it is thawed.
Flash freezing locks in all the essential vitamins and minerals, negates the need for added preservatives, and provides the nourishment needed for a dog’s optimal health.
Dogs fed on a raw diet have reduced allergies, shinier coats, less shedding, strengthened immune system, increased energy, less smelly stool, better weight management, less inflammation, healthier digestion, and better overall health.
Busy fur parents find it convenient to serve their dogs flash frozen meat. The food is already pre-portioned for easy feeding, and all they have to do is to thaw and serve. This give them more time to spend with their pets.
Dog owners also lower their risk of exposure to harmful bacteria that comes with preparing raw meat when they decide to add flash frozen food to their dog’s menu.
Food processing requires energy and releases harmful gases into the air. The more extensive the processing is, the more detrimental it is to the environment.
As flash frozen raw dog food requires minimal processing, its carbon footprint is naturally lesser.
In addition, freezing food extends the lifespan of food and helps to reduce food wastage.
For more, you can refer to the article Benefits of Flash Frozen Raw Dog Food.
There are various ways of prolonging the shelf life of dog food. Apart from flash freezing, let’s take a quick look at some of the other available methods.
This is another way of preserving meat using cold air. Also called lyophilization, the process involves removing water from frozen foods, leaving behind meat that has almost no moisture in it. These are packed in vacuum bags, and refrigeration is not necessary.
Exposing food to air to dry out the moisture slowly and gently is what we call “air drying.” This process results in a product that is light in weight and has very little to no moisture. Air-dried food can be kept at room temperature.
The canning process involves putting food into cans and hermetically sealing them before heating them to a temperature that destroys microorganisms. Canned products can be kept for many years.
You can read Flash Frozen Dog Food vs. Freeze Dried - Which is the Healthier Choice? To compare the two.
Each method has its pros and cons. Let’s look at the advantages of the flash freezing method.
Flash frozen comes up tops as the method that produces the look and nutrition equivalent to fresh food. Once thawed, the meat looks the same as it was before being preserved with no shape distortion. The flavor and nutrients are also very similar to pre-frozen levels.
Muscle tissues in uncooked meat contain up to 75% water. This moisture is contained within the meat during flash freezing and remains even after defrosting. As such, the product remains juicy. This has the bonus of making the food more palatable to your four-legged pals.
The word “denature” means to deprive of, or change, the natural qualities. Protein denaturation can be caused by heat, acid, salt and alcohol, and decreases the bioavailability of valuable nutrients.
The flash freezing process does not utilize heat nor any of the other elements that can alter the protein structure of the meat. Therefore, the nutritional value of the food remains high in its natural state.
There is a misconception that frozen food has less nutritional content than fresh food. The truth is, it has been proven that frozen food retains nutrients better over time.
By the time a food item is placed on the shelf to be sold, it has lost some of its nutrients on its way to the supermarket.
Whereas food frozen at its peak will remain in that condition until you are ready to consume it.
Flash freezing trumps all the other methods of dog food preservation in terms of look, taste, flavor, and nutrients. The only drawback is that flash frozen dog food needs to be kept in a freezer, which may not always be available outdoors or when traveling.
Nonetheless, it is definitely still a good choice for you and your pets.
You can try out Petcubes Raw Dog Food. Our collection uses the best industrial-grade flash freezing technology to lock in the freshness, minus the preservatives.
Dr Francis is one of the top wildlife nutritionists in Asia. Originating from Montreal, Canada, he left at 21 to pursue his Masters and subsequently a PhD in wildlife nutrition at Oxford Brookes University. Instead of taking the path of common animal science to learn about farm animals, or through the veterinarian space and taking a certificate in nutrition, he took the road less travelled to dive deep into the world of animal ecology, metabolism and nutrition.
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