Are grain-free diets REALLY grain free?

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Are grain-free diets REALLY grain free?

Postby Misskiwi67 » Mon Aug 22, 2011 12:19 pm

So in my ongoing quest for knowledge (actually I was bored on my Sunday overnight) I attended a recent rounds session from the american college of veterinary dermatology... and learned something VERY interesting about cross-contamination in canine diets...

A recent study, funded by the ACVD (not big food companies) tested numerous prescription and OTC diets for the presence of Soy protein in the diet. Three of the four OTC 'no soy' claiming diets were positive for soy antigen (Blue Buffalo Basics salmon and potato, Taste of the Wild Prairie bison and venison, Canidae salmon); Both TOTW and Canidae contained >25 ppm of soy antigen. While it is unknown how many ppm are required to trigger an allergy in dogs, it only takes 10ppm of soy to trigger an allergic response in a soy allergic human.

I will have to try to find the original study to find out which OTC diet tested negative for soy. Here's the study if anyone wants to try to beat me to it. "ELISA testing for soy antigens in dry dog foods used in dietary elimination trials" by C. Willis-Mahn, D. Raditic, K. Tater, and R. Remillard

This makes me sad, because now I have no choice but to recommend prescription diets for diet trials...
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Re: Are grain-free diets REALLY grain free?

Postby Sarah » Mon Aug 22, 2011 12:30 pm

I'm not particularly surprised about the TOTW, because it's made by Diamond, which makes a lot of foods, and I wouldn't imagine that they do too much to avoid cross-contamination. It's not an issue for me because my dogs don't have allergies. I'm a little surprised about the Canidae, because they don't produce any diets that contain soy, but I guess I don't know where their food is manufactured. It could well be manufactured by the Diamond facilities, many are.

Be interested to know which food is not contaminated with soy.
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Re: Are grain-free diets REALLY grain free?

Postby El_EmDubya » Mon Aug 22, 2011 1:42 pm

This isn't surprising to me, or anyone with gluten issues. I joke that I can feel the "poison" at ppb, not ppm, which is why I've been reduced to an all-home-cooked diet.

The contamination issues probably have more to do with QC/safe manufacturing procedures and cross contamination rather than companies trying to make an extra buck from using soy as a protein source. I'd check the country of origin for those brands as I'd suspect the governmental regs might be one of the issues.
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Re: Are grain-free diets REALLY grain free?

Postby Sarah » Mon Aug 22, 2011 2:19 pm

El_EmDubya wrote:This isn't surprising to me, or anyone with gluten issues. I joke that I can feel the "poison" at ppb, not ppm, which is why I've been reduced to an all-home-cooked diet.

The contamination issues probably have more to do with QC/safe manufacturing procedures and cross contamination rather than companies trying to make an extra buck from using soy as a protein source. I'd check the country of origin for those brands as I'd suspect the governmental regs might be one of the issues.


Yes, that was my thought. Why it doesn't surprise me from TOTW, which is manufactured by Diamond, and I just don't really see Diamond being likely to be all that careful about avoiding cross-contamination. Don't get me wrong, I feed TOTW, and don't think that Diamond is the worst thing ever, but, my dogs don't have allergies, there is nothing I need to avoid.

The Diamond plants actually make a lot of different brands. Of the many brands of pet food sold, there are only a few that are produced in their own plants. Most are made by a very few manufacturing plants, and I don't know how many, if any, are careful to avoid cross-contamination in their formulas. That's one reason I'm interested in knowing what brand it was that tested negative for soy.
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Re: Are grain-free diets REALLY grain free?

Postby FBODGRL » Mon Aug 22, 2011 2:43 pm

I think I remember at one point reading that NB did something to avoid cross contamination between their LID foods. No clue where I read it or if it is true though.
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Re: Are grain-free diets REALLY grain free?

Postby IloveBlu » Mon Aug 22, 2011 5:34 pm

Allegedly Natural Balance has separate factories for each formula.
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Re: Are grain-free diets REALLY grain free?

Postby Misskiwi67 » Mon Aug 22, 2011 6:01 pm

IloveBlu wrote:Allegedly Natural Balance has separate factories for each formula.


I'm hoping this is the one that tested negative for soy.

All of the prescription diets tested less than 2.5 ppm (the minimum the test could pick up) with the exception of the hydrolysate diets, and a diet that uses soybean oil for the fat. They tested 8 prescription diets total.
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Re: Are grain-free diets REALLY grain free?

Postby Savage Destiny » Mon Aug 22, 2011 7:24 pm

Sarah wrote:The Diamond plants actually make a lot of different brands. Of the many brands of pet food sold, there are only a few that are produced in their own plants. Most are made by a very few manufacturing plants, and I don't know how many, if any, are careful to avoid cross-contamination in their formulas. That's one reason I'm interested in knowing what brand it was that tested negative for soy.


Canidae, one of the foods mentioned as containing soy in the OP, is actually made at the Diamond factories, although not owned by Diamond. I wonder where Blue Buffalo is made?

I know that Nature's Variety has their own plants, and none of their formulas contain soy, so I'd be interested to see the test done on their LID formulas.
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Re: Are grain-free diets REALLY grain free?

Postby dogs4jen » Tue Aug 23, 2011 11:23 am

That sure adds another thing to think about when people are trying to figure out what their pet is allergic to, I'm sure it wouldn't have occurred to me.
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Re: Are grain-free diets REALLY grain free?

Postby leila.quinn.82 » Tue Aug 23, 2011 11:41 am

This could very well be a stupid question, but isn't soy a legume? why would it's presence make a food not GRAIN free?
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Re: Are grain-free diets REALLY grain free?

Postby dogs4jen » Wed Aug 24, 2011 10:07 am

Yeah, it doesn't say "bean free!" Maybe because it's one of the things dogs are likely to be allergic to.
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Re: Are grain-free diets REALLY grain free?

Postby El_EmDubya » Wed Aug 24, 2011 12:21 pm

dogs4jen wrote:Yeah, it doesn't say "bean free!" Maybe because it's one of the things dogs are likely to be allergic to.


Yah, the top food allergens are Wheat, Corn, and Soy.
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Re: Are grain-free diets REALLY grain free?

Postby Misskiwi67 » Wed Aug 24, 2011 12:36 pm

They tested for soy because they had a test for it. This study had a dual purpose, because the hydrolysate diets use soy protein and there have been questions about weather this is a safe alternative for dogs who may have soy allergies. I didn't post that portion of the results because I didn't figure anyone would care. The hydrolysate prescription diets, and a limited ingredient diet with soybean oil tested positive for soy. The other limited ingredient prescription diets were found to be free of detectable levels of soy.

Canidae says on their website " Made the CANIDAE® Way with Superior Quality: No Corn, Wheat, Soy, Grain Fractions or Fillers and Naturally Preserved" If they have Soy, when none of their formulas contain soy, what else do they have in there that isn't supposed to be there? Beef? Corn?
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Re: Are grain-free diets REALLY grain free?

Postby Misskiwi67 » Wed Aug 24, 2011 12:40 pm

Here's the abstract:
ELISA testing for soy antigens in dry dog foods used in dietary elimination trials
C. Willis-Mahn*, D. Raditic*†, K. Tater*, R. Remillard*
*MSPCA Angell Animal Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts
†University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee
Abstract: Elimination diet trials are used to determine food allergies and intolerances. Contamination of
the diet with a known food antigen, such as soy, nullifies the results of the trial whereas unintentional
contamination confounds the results. The objective of this study was to determine if: 1) four over-the-
counter (OTC) dry dog foods carrying a ‘made with no soy’ claim and 2) eight veterinary therapeutic dry
dog foods designed for food elimination trials were suitable for a canine soybean elimination trial. A 100
gram sample of each diet plus a soy foods carrying a ‘made with no soy’ claim and 2) eight veterinary
therapeutic dry dog foods designed for food elimination trials were suitable for a canine soybean
elimination trial. A 100 gram sample of each diet plus a soy positive control diet were submitted for
ELISA testing to an outside independent food laboratory. The ELISA test is quantitative for soy flour
protein concentrations between 2.5 and 25 ppm. The positive control diet contained >25 ppm soy protein
antigens. Three of the four OTC ‘no soy’ claiming diets were positive for soy antigen; two contained >25
ppm. Four veterinary therapeutic diets had less than the lower detectable limit of soy protein. Two
hydrolyzed soy diets were positive (>2.5 ppm). One veterinary therapeutic diet contained >25 ppm soy
but soybean oil was a listed ingredient and one diet contained 4.6 ppm with no soy ingredients listed.
From these results we conclude that OTC dog food diets that claim to contain ‘no soy’ may contain high
concentrations of soy protein antigen and therefore should not be considered for soy elimination trials.
The veterinary therapeutic diet chosen for a soy elimination diet trial needs to be carefully selected based
on these results.
Study funded by an ACVD and AAVD Research Award.
State conflict of interest: None declared.
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Re: Are grain-free diets REALLY grain free?

Postby CuriousMoves » Fri Aug 26, 2011 4:40 pm

Misskiwi67 wrote:They tested for soy because they had a test for it. This study had a dual purpose, because the hydrolysate diets use soy protein and there have been questions about weather this is a safe alternative for dogs who may have soy allergies. I didn't post that portion of the results because I didn't figure anyone would care. The hydrolysate prescription diets, and a limited ingredient diet with soybean oil tested positive for soy. The other limited ingredient prescription diets were found to be free of detectable levels of soy.

Canidae says on their website " Made the CANIDAE® Way with Superior Quality: No Corn, Wheat, Soy, Grain Fractions or Fillers and Naturally Preserved" If they have Soy, when none of their formulas contain soy, what else do they have in there that isn't supposed to be there? Beef? Corn?


It is definitely possible. Canidae does have a beef variety I'm pretty sure, so I wouldn't be surprised if there is cross contamination. Canidae is also made at Diamond.
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