Now it makes sense as to why pet food manufacturers won’t tell petsumers what ingredients are included in pet food flavorings. New information provided to TruthaboutPetFood.com tells us the chemical diacetyl is a common flavor additive in many pet food ingredients. Diacetyl is the flavor additive linked to ‘popcorn lung’; commonly used in microwave popcorn.
We have asked pet food manufacturers many times…’What is in your natural flavor ingredient?’ And they have told us repeatedly, ‘this is proprietary information’.
Now we have a clue to one ingredient that makes up pet food’s flavor ingredient – diacetyl. In addition to inside information provided to TruthaboutPetFood.com, a Google search for “diacetyl pet food” provides more than 1,000 patent processes for pet foods using diacetyl as a flavor additive. A Google web search for the same term “diacetyl pet food” provides more than 150,000 links mentioning diacetyl and its use in pet food.
The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) says “Diacetyl (also called butanedione or 2,3-butanedione, molecular formula C4H6O2) is a natural byproduct of fermentation and is also synthesized by chemical manufacturers. Diacetyl gives butter and certain food flavorings a distinctive buttery flavor and aroma. Food flavorings containing diacetyl are used in microwave popcorn and other snack foods, pet foods, candies, baked goods, and other food products.” Under Health Effects the OSHA website continues with “Manufacturers and importers of hazardous chemicals must consider the available human and animal data when determining hazards and should convey that information on the MSDS ( 29 CFR 1910.1200(d)(2) and Appendix B of the HCS). Many current MSDSs do not reflect any new information regarding health effects and respiratory hazards associated with diacetyl or FFCD. Specifically, chemical manufacturers and importers must convey information that animals exposed to diacetyl experienced damage to the nose and upper airways, including severe damage to cells lining the respiratory tract.”
Indiana based Sensient Flavors LLC is a supplier of flavor ingredients to pet food. The Indiana OSHA Board found Sensient Flavors to have serious violations in relation to diacetyl; exposing employees to very high levels of the chemical. The OSHA investigation resulted in a lawsuit which was settled in 2012 with smaller fines and Sensient agreeing to reduce its usage of diacetyl.
Is diacetyl in pet food flavor ingredients a risk to our pets? We do not know for certain. The major known risk of diacetyl is through inhalation (found a serious health risk to humans and animals). However, to my knowledge there is no research showing pets could inhale diacetyl in the pet food and there is no research (to my knowledge) the chemical could be a concern when ingested.
What we do know is that factory workers exposed to/inhaling diacetyl are at great risk for lung disease. We know that animal tests of inhaled diacetyl have produced the same results – lung disease. And we know that flavor additives (including those with diacetyl) are sprayed on kibble as the last processing step, allowing the flavor to be easily inhaled by the pet. Considering a pet could be exposed to diacetyl with each meal every day, what is unknown is concerning.
Again, if the ‘natural flavor’ ingredient in many pet foods contain diacetyl, it is pure speculation if the flavor becomes a risk. But why take the chance? Unlike humans with sporadic exposure, pets could be inhaling/ingesting low levels of diacetyl at every meal, resulting in health concerns after years of exposure. I publically ask all pet food manufacturers to closely inspect the ingredients of your pet food flavor – if it contains diacetyl, find a new flavor. Please put pet safety (and by the way the safety of your employees handling the flavor ingredient) first.
To read more about diacetyl, Click Here to read information from the Federal Register.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
Association for Truth in Pet Food
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
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