In this wacky world of crop subsidies, all species are subject to an ever-abundant medley of corn, wheat, and soy byproducts. The Big Food companies — regardless of whether they serve humans, canines, or felines — love these byproducts because of their low cost and great ability to serve as fillers in a variety of processed foods.
It turns out those small cans of cat food you’ve seen in your local grocery or drugstore’s “pet food” aisle contain strikingly similar ingredients to what some fast food chains dish out to Homo sapiens.
Take a look at the laundry list of ingredients that compose Pizza Hut’s ground beef topping. I’ve gone ahead and bolded some ingredients which are worth putting in our back pocket for the time being:
“Beef, water, textured soy protein concentrate, soy protein concentrate, hydrolyzed soy protein, hydrolyzed corn and wheat gluten, salt, maltodextrin, sodium phosphate, autolyzed yeast extract, dextrose, grill flavor (soybean oil and cottonseed oil, natural and artificial flavors), BHA, BHT, citric acid, disodium insinuate, and disodium guanylate”
FYI 1: maltodextrin is a ubiquitous thickener made from corn starch.
FYI 2: Pizza Hut’s ingredient statement is nowhere to be found on their website. A Google search brings up a September 2008 document, which is surprisingly the most recent version. Pizza Hut introduced a “natural” line of pizzas in 2009 (which included 100% beef with no fillers of any sort), but as BNet food writer Melanie Warner pointed out, that was ultimately discontinued. I find Pizza Hut’s silence regarding their ingredients just a tad worrisome. Besides, if it turns out they are still using “all-natural” ingredients (such as ground beef without any fillers), I don’t see why they wouldn’t proudly showcase this on their website. And, if that is the case, I will gladly clarify that after years of serving the equivalent of cat food and passing it off as “beef”, Pizza Hut has since changed their ways.
Alright, let’s continue. Here is what you’ll find in a can of “gourmet” cat food (Fancy Feast’s grilled beef with gravy, to be exact). Watch for the same bolded words:
“Meat broth, beef, liver, wheat gluten, meat by-products, corn starch-modified, artificial and natural flavors, salt, added color, calcium phosphate, soy protein concentrate, potassium chloride, taurine, magnesium sulfate, choline chloride, thiamine mononitrate, Vitamin E supplement, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, niacin, calcium pantothenate, Vitamin A supplement, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), copper sulfate, manganese sulfate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin B-12 supplement, biotin, folic acid, Vitamin D-3 supplement, potassium iodide.”
Don’t let the presence of all those other “un-bolded” ingredients in Fancy Feast fool you — they are tacked-on vitamins and minerals. Take those away and it’s easy to see that there is almost no difference between commercial cat food and what Pizza Hut calls “beef topping”. Heck, the cat food version might be the better choice, seeing as how it isn’t loaded with inflammatory omega-6 oils and is lower in sodium!
As you may imagine, a diet rich in these byproducts has horrible consequences for cats who subsist on conventional commercial foods (in the wild, cats never eat grains or soy). It is no wonder that, according to a 2008 report by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 57 percent of domesticated cats in the US are overweight or obese. The Centers for Disease Control’s latest figures, meanwhile, place 68 percent of the adult US population in one of those two categories.