Cat Food Processing Ingredients

What exactly is erythrobic acid? Or xanthan gum? Learn why these odd ingredients show up on your cat's food label.

By Lisa Kobs

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Food additives are used in cat food to enhance flavor and color, modify texture, meet essential nutrient standards, and keep the food from spoiling. Here are a few additives you might see on your cat's food labels.

Flavor Enhancers/Binders
Digest: Enzymatic liquefaction or hydrolysis of animal tissue used for flavor.

Erythorbic acid: Prevents the heat of canning from destroying food color.

Guar gum, carrageenan locust bean gum, corn starch-modified, xanthan gum: Thickening ingredients used to hold canned food together.

Sodium tripolyphosphate: Helps to hold food together by binding water. This also keeps the food tender and helps it to come out of the can.

Phosphoric acid: Used to provide the acid flavor cats love.

Propylene glycol, glycerin, sorbitol: Used to control water in semimoist foods.

Coloring Enhancers
These ingredients are used to modify the appearance of the food.

Caramel color: A brown coloring agent used to enhance and darken food color.

Sodium nitrite: Used as an antimicrobial agent to kill bacteria and to help canned food maintain a pink color after processing.

Titanium dioxide: A white powder used to lighten up food color.

Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Red 3: Food dyes used in chicken-based food to enhance color.

Used to extend shelf life and reduce fat spoilage called rancidity, which can lead to off flavors.

Ascorbic acid: Natural source of preservative from vitamin C.

BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin: Artificial sources of preservatives.

Mixed tocopherols: Natural source of preservative from vitamin E but does not keep food fresh as long as artificial sources.

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Reader Comments

Jan    Sandy, OR

10/17/2012 1:13:38 AM

I think it does not explain that all those ingredients are garbage and not fit for animal or human consumption and cause disease in both animals and humans.

heather    scarborough, ME

7/11/2012 10:20:22 AM

I like to buy cat food in which I can recognize each ingredient. You wouldn't feed your kids a can of processed, unidentifiable mush for dinner, why sould you feed it to your cats? You shouldn't feed your pets anything you wouldn't eat.
For those of you looking for a healthy brand of cat food, I reccomend Wellness and Natural Balance. Natural Balance makes a cat food that comes in a little pouch & you squeeze it out, it looks like something I would want to eat!
I am very against food coloring. For goodness sakes, the cats don't care what COLOR their food is if it tastes good! I am allergic to food coloring, and I don't see it's purpose. I think it's bad for us and the cats.

Janet    Bethlehem, PA

5/14/2011 5:43:03 AM

good article, thanks very much

Caroline and Kerry    Campbellville, ON

11/16/2010 1:51:02 PM

I think the stuff they add in cat food is very frightening and as I see it, unnecessary.
I am thankful IAMS pet food has their natural formulas.

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