High Pressure Processing for Raw Dog Food

Share

The use of High Pressure Processing (known as HPP) is becoming increasingly common with commercial raw dog foods.
HPP Pressure Gauge
However, HPP can be a controversial process.

Some view it as an effective way to eliminate disease-causing bacteria while having only minimal effect on the integrity of the finished product.

Yet others believe raw foods that have undergone HPP have been altered to the point they can no longer be considered raw.

So, What Is HPP?

HPP is a non-thermal pasteurization process commonly utilized in the food industry.

The practice removes disease-causing bacteria with only minimal effect on the nutritional qualities, taste, sight or smell of the food.

HPP achieves this result through the application of extremely high pressure on the product.1

The following video produced by one of the companies that makes HPP equipment does a respectable job of explaining the process.

What Are the Benefits of HPP?

Supporters of HPP claim the process leads to…

A safer product. It’s been shown that the HPP process is effective at eliminating most food-borne germs such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria with little change in the nutritional value of the end product.2

A fresher product. HPP destroys the microorganisms that cause spoilage which, in turn, increases the shelf life of the product.2

So, What’s the Catch?

Those opposed to HPP argue…

Proteins are denatured. High levels of pressure, such as those used in the HPP process, have been shown to result in the denaturation of proteins.4

Beneficial bacteria are destroyed. Unfortunately, the HPP process doesn’t differentiate between disease-causing and beneficial bacteria.5

Risk of recontamination remains. Most (if not all) pet food recalls are due to recontamination — meaning the bacterial contamination occurs sometime after processing.

HPP will destroy bacteria present in the food prior to processing but cannot protect the food against recontamination after processing.6

HPP is yet another “process.” Many raw food purists view HPP as a form of processing and argue that the end product is adulterated and no longer in raw form.7

The Bottom Line

Regardless of which side of the fence you find yourself on…

With the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act and the American Veterinary Medical Association’s recent policy discouraging raw feeding due to bacterial risks, it’s likely more commercial raw food manufacturers will be implementing this controversial process in the near future.8

Footnotes

  • Nalu-Rufus

    Mike, I love the site and can’t thank you enough for making this knowledge available to the public. I am curious to know, is there something that prevents you from noting whether raw products are HPP or not in your reviews?

  • Nalu-Rufus

    Although the case against HPP sounds logical, I have to say I support it based on my limited experience. In my quest to cure my dog’s chronic colitis, I took him off dry kibble and tried many different foods. I eventually (and happily) settled on THK with Nature’s Variety raw frozen or Stella & Chewy’s freeze dried as topper. This combo has worked wonderfully for more than a year. So, with HPP, no problems.

    During that time, I also tried small amounts of raw chicken or raw goat’s milk, neither HPP. Those brief experiments ended in diarrhea of biblical proportions. I decided I will not risk it again – and even though I live in Seattle and can get Darwin’s delivered for free, I will stick to dehydrated, freeze-dried, or HPP frozen foods only.

    For what it’s worth, I absolutely encourage any dog owner to get off kibble or canned food, and move towards minimally processed diet for their dogs. It costs more, but you will be rewarded with optimal health and extra years and to spend with your canine companion.

  • Angeline King

    Primal Pet Foods only uses cold water HPP on poultry items, which have such a high chance of developing some sort of harmful pathogen content that testing and holding alone will not suffice, thus making a kill-step necessary in order for us to remain in compliance with the FDA’s 0-tolerance policy on harmful pathogens in pet food. The red meat diets (meaning the Beef, Lamb, Rabbit, and Venison) remain non-HPP due to the fact that testing and holding alone has proven to be effective for such items. All Primal products, however, are tested and held before being released onto the market. For more information regarding Primal’s safety procedures, please refer to our page on Food Safety Assurance at http://www.primalpetfoods.com/education/foodsafety.

    Your best bet is always to go to the company’s website to obtain accurate information on their processes and products. I do not recommend taking anyone’s word for it when it comes to researching your pet foods! Thanks for your time, and keep asking questions, guys!

    Angeline King
    Marketing / Customer Service
    Primal Pet Foods
    e: [email protected]

  • Rin Tin Tin

    I doubt it; if there is a demand for non HPP raw, there will be companies that will produce non HPP raw and will advertise that as a selling feature. Also, people could do their own raw home cooked meals.

  • Shawna

    Well said, I totally agree. Although I prefer “real” raw, :) HPP is most definitely a stepping stone and a good one at that…

    One of the concerns that some of us raw feeders have however is that ALL commercial raw will be pushed towards HPP.. That would be a shame!!!!!

  • Rin Tin Tin

    I’ll take an HPP raw over canned food as well – still far better, even though proteins are somewhat denatured but far less so than canned. I have a feline herpes cat that I’m in the process of transitioning to raw, he eats half raw and half canned, soon I hope all raw – Nature’s Instinct. Even though I realize HPP raw is somewhat compromised, I feel the food is safer for my little guy, at least for now – than non HPP. Maybe I’m wrong, I have a lot to learn about raw still, however, I’m going against the grain (no pun intended, lol) feeding raw to my herpes cat since my vet discouraged this. He’s doing very well, stools are looking better already.

    I also think that in order for more pet caregivers to be open to raw feeding, as there are still so many myths regarding safety that need to be debunked, HPP raw is but one step towards feeding a better diet. If the average consumer has some reassurance regarding safety of raw, they may be more open to feeding this kind of diet and then who knows – as they learn more about raw and HPP, go on to feeding non HPP foods.

    It’s a slow process educating people about raw and HPP may be a stepping stone toward the goal of feeding our furry friends a more species appropriate diet.

  • InkedMarie

    ok, thats what I thought but I wasn’t comprehending about S&Cs patented process

  • Hound Dog Mom

    I personally wouldn’t use an HPP food.

  • InkedMarie

    So, are you in favor of HPP in s & c?

  • Hound Dog Mom

    I believe S&C kind of pioneered the HPP movement with raw pet food – they have a patented process.

  • InkedMarie

    I was surprised to read that Stella & Chewys have used HPP since 2007

  • Hound Dog Mom

    New article concerning commercial raw dog food on Dr. Becker’s website. The future of commercial raw food is isn’t looking too good. I really think HPP is going to be becoming standard practice (unfortunately).

    http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2013/08/02/pet-food-safety-plan.aspx?e_cid=20130802_PetsNL_art_1&utm_source=petnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20130802

  • Shawna

    Yep, absolutely agree :)…

  • Cindy

    Shawna, I don’t mind buying food from other countries, I’m a fan of NZ Lamb or I love organic bananas! I have an issue when a company is doing it to safe money while the products are available here in the US unless they are better. I think we have some responsibility to be ‘green’ and should buy as much locally as possible, plus there are other reasons as well.

    Anyhow, yea, I know you have talked about Answers before, and by reading up about it I had a good feeling about it; their chicken, beef are organic, pork not. I really like them and think they are fine people behind. They sell it in sacramento CA in some pet stores, I will go get the food.

    I used to feed Northwest Naturals Lamb. They are owned my Morasch Meats in Portland OR. They also produce the food for Primal. It is a human dog food company and I also have purchased their human food as well in Portland and their meats are decent.What I like about this food is the nuggets are smaller than the Primal and they are much cheaper; to me it is the same food, not organic but I believe the meat is the same. In fact primal uses only kidney and liver in their lamb version, and they are like double the price, while NW Nat. uses real meat with mixture of other organs etc. which is more pricey for them. So to me primal is overpriced and they have to charge more as someone else is making their food. However I also have loved Primal too and would buy them if they would not use HPP. My dogs happen to like the Northwest better and the sizes of the nuggets are smaller, perfect size for my dogs, so it is easier to feed than Primal.

    What is also goot is K9 natural, the lamb version is high on fat but the other versions are better. My dogs love this food. I used to be able to order it via a pet store for $ 45 for 10 #.
    You know I had emailed NW naturals but so far have not gotten an answer.
    So I don’t like that and I think it is better to stick with a company that doesn’t do this HPP thing at all, excited how Answers will be. I won’t buy anymore the products they have HPP in them, what is the point, the point is that you want to feed your dog something natural, this way it looses good bacteria and changes the protein, not good.

  • Shawna

    Morning Cindy,

    I too like Answers.. I had an hour long conversation over a year ago with their VP Jacqueline Hill. She is amazingly intelligent when it comes to food (human and dog). Like me, she follows Weston Price. We communicate every once in a while still.. I use their raw goat milk frequently but I have one dog allergic to beef bone and another intolerant of chicken and I haven’t found anyone locally that carries the pork – sooooo….

    I used to use Primal quail, venison, pheasant, rabbit and it seems one other regularly but the venison and rabbit are pricey (in my opinion) and the others are now HPP. I still rotate the rabbit and venison in off and on though.

    I also use Darwins organic/grass finished buffalo and duck (also not subjected to HPP). But, it seems two of my dogs may be having an issue with the duck and I can’t afford buffalo only. They are supposedly coming out with a new protein. I am anxously awaiting.
    I’ve also used Bravo meat only and grinds in the past but news just came out that they are starting HPP :(.
    Gonna have to see if I can get the Answer’s pork and continue the Darwins but the majority will likely be home made..
    Since most of the food I and my grandbabies eat (organic veggies and fruits) come from places other than the US, I don’t get too bent out of shape about the dogs food either. I buy local produce whenever I can (during the spring & summer) but in late fall and winter, or certain products, I have to purchase whereever Whole Foods and Trader Joes gets their foods from.

  • Cindy

    Shawna, I read up on the HPP issue. Answers dog food is great, they don’t use HPP either. They also signed

    ‘the pledge’ among THK and others:

    http://www.petsumerreport.com/HonestKitchen.pdf

    I don’t want to sound like a broken record but there THK state in detail which product they get from where; it is shocking.

    The pledge further states that Answers uses great ingredients merley from the USA and Primal is merley organic, it appears their venison and lamb is HPP free still.

    It is too bad that so much pressure is coming from the FDA that these companies alter now the frozen foods, very discouraging.

  • Cindy

    Shawna, are you still using these frozen foods with Hpp? This is so frustrating what they are doing. It looks like Primal is having their venison and lamb not made that way but Primal is made my Morash meats/ Northwest naturals. It is very discouraging to use any of their products now at all. My dogs don’t like Darwin’s they LOVE NW natural lamb the most.

  • Foster

    Any one know if Steve’s raw uses hpp?

  • Michelle

    Are they more easily digested than Kibble? Sure.

    Are they more nutritional than kibble? Most likely.
    Do we have any idea of the long-term consequences of using them are? Not a chance.

    As a society, we keep introducing things to make the world better with no concept of the long-term effects, and then lo and behold, discover that they’re toxic or cause other issues, etc. Just go back to nature – what is the dog’s body designed to do? Eat raw, unadulterated, bacteria-infested meat.

  • patvl246

    Hi Betsy, I wasn’t able to get a picture, but I’m sure someone we get one to me. I’ll upload it ASAP

  • Betsy Greer

    Oh, funny! Did you get a picture of them together? I’d love to see that!

  • patvl246

    Nah, he loves little dogs. We went to a fund raiser today for an animal shelter, and he makes a new friend, a “yorkie”. There were so many people snapping pictures of the two of them together. So funny

  • patvl246

    Thanks Patty, I’ll check them out

  • Pattyvaughn

    Your Moose would swallow her in one gulp.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Here are two links. The first is a LOT of info about feeding large breed puppies. The second is raw recipes, HDMs recipes are balanced for large breed puppies.

    http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/forums/topic/large-and-giant-breed-puppy-nutrition/

    http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/forums/topic/post-your-recipes/

  • patvl246

    My “Moose” would let her have it too

  • patvl246

    Thanks Patty, I’m trying to find some of her information

  • Johnene Martens

    Yes Thank You!

  • Pattyvaughn

    So then I did a good thing this morning when I ate watermelon with dirty hands. I was boosting my immune system.
    I totally believe we are hurting our children when we try to place them in a sterile world. It is very rare that my kids get sick and when they are, they never get whatever as bad as the other kids. We’ve always enjoyed things as a family that involved getting dirty. And I can’t say I’ve ever bought hand sanitizer. We’re definitely not afraid of what life throws at you.

  • Shawna

    I agree completely!! This is a concern that has been discussed in holistic communities for some time now.

    They have a name for what you are thinking — the hygene hypothesis.

    “In medicine, the hygiene hypothesis states that a lack of early childhood exposure to infectious agents, symbiotic microorganisms (e.g., gut flora or probiotics), and parasites increases susceptibility to allergic diseases by suppressing natural development of the immune system. It is hypothesized that the TH1 polarized response is not induced early in life leaving the body more susceptible to developing TH2 induced disease.[1] The rise of autoimmune diseases and acute lymphoblastic leukemia in young people in the developed world has also been linked to the hygiene hypothesis.[2][3]” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hygiene_hypothesis

  • Pattyvaughn

    I absolutely agree with you there. I want to feed my dog real raw food, the good, the bad, and the ugly. That is the whole reason I started feeding raw in the first place.

  • Shawna

    LOL, Our 4 pounder is no push over but she wouldn’t “take on” a larger dog for the shear thrill of it. However our deceased little 3 pound Chi definitely would have!!!! She was hell on wheels for sure!!! She would have tried to steal a bone from that Mastiff no holds barred!! :)

  • losul

    Interesting. Antibacterial soaps and cleaners had become mainstream and completely ordinary in the past few years. they definitely have their place, but i think, they have discovered that mainstream, everyday, ordinary use of these have created many more problems than not. I don’t see all the everday antibacterials, especially soaps, in the stores anymore. Another concern besides pathogen resistance, is that if we all live in too sterile a world, and don’t get exposed, we lose the ability to defend ourselves against such pathogens, with more drastic consequences when we are inevitably exposed. JMO.

  • KarlaG

    Primal uses HPP in its poultry formulas (chicken, duck, pheasant, quail, turkey & sardine) but NOT in its meat formulas (beef, lamb, rabbit, venison). I buy less of the poultry formulas for this reason. If HPP becomes the only option, we’ll be doing more home-cooking in my household!

  • losul

    Patty, you and Shawna, both bring up some very good points. It’s very good that HPP has several choices for those purposes. I just don’t like the idea that I might needlessly lose the choice to feed mine untampered and actually truly raw.

  • Pattyvaughn

    No, I’ve just got a mental picture of the littlest one trying to lord it over a 225 lbs Mastiff, I’m definitely only thinking size. TeeHee!
    I do know someone who has a 74 lbs BC, but the usual is about 40 lbs, which is what both of mine are.
    I think if I fed all raw that mine all together would only eat about 2 1/4 lbs. That would be 93 lbs of dog.

  • Shawna

    Hey, wait a dal garn minute, :) all mine combined would be equal to a 70 pound dog :)… And due to their higher metabolisms they might eat as much as a 80 or 90 pound dog!! :) Sheesh :) LOL

    Edit — when you factor in Audrey’s nutraceuticals, I mainly feed organic/grass finished, the enzymes and probiotics, glandulars etc I probably spend just as much as someone feeding one giant breed dog — if that was what you were meaning?

  • Pattyvaughn

    Yup! Course now I’m thinking about how all 8 of yours barely make a Border Collie, and you’re trying to compare them to a 225 lbs mastiff!?!

  • patvl246

    Thanks Shawna, I’ll check it out. Always looking for ways to save

  • Shawna

    Great minds think alike!!!!! Hee hee hee :)

  • Shawna

    YIKES!!! I have eight dogs but all of them combined don’t even come close to the size of your pup!! YIKES

    If interested, read some of Hound Dog Mom’s posts and her comments in the forum as well. She has three hound dogs (obviously :) that she feeds raw to. She has some very cost effective ways of sourcing foods for them. She also has some fantastic recipes in the forum if you are at all interested in supplementing a commercial diet with homemade..

  • Pattyvaughn

    Have you checked out the info over on the forum about raw feeding? Hound Dog Mom has 3 huge Bloodhounds and has learned how to raw feed without breaking the bank.

  • Shawna

    So what raw meaty bones would you recommend for my toy breed dogs — ones that would give them enough variety of course? I have a 4 pound Chi, two 5 pound Poms and goes up to a 14 pound Papillon.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Did you see 376NYC’s post?

  • Shawna

    I agree with you losul!! I’ll home prepare before I use a product that has been subjected to HPP.. I do think we are eventually going to be pushed into it and I won’t buy in to that agenda!!!! (pun intended :)

  • patvl246

    Thanks for answering my question Shawna, I stopped buying the product from that company and found one selling strictly raw, but so expensive to feed a 225 lb Mastiff. Thanks again

  • Shawna

    Very good point!!!!! I never really thought about that but it is a very valid argument.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Ask and you shall receive! Thanks!!

  • Shawna

    Thanks for posting this!!!!

  • Shawna

    I agree that it technically isn’t raw. Also, some dehydrated foods, like the Honest Kitchen, use a small amount of heat in the dehydration process and thus are cooked. Their veggies/fruits are dehydrated with air only (or at least so little heat as to not destroy enzymes).
    I think freeze dried is the processed food closest to raw.
    But, it is worth noting that some dehydrated and freeze dried products have also been subjected to HPP. Stella & Chewys and NV’s products are as an example.

  • Pattyvaughn

    I’m sure that is a factor in the difference in texture. And the worst thing about resistance and recontamination issues is that it’s usually the bad bacteria that recontaminates or becomes resistant, not the good ones, so there is not much to compete with the bad.

  • Shawna

    HPP is believed to denature proteins so it could lead to easier digestion however some feel that the body doesn’t utilize denatured proteins in the same manner as they do whole proteins… So which is better? If the gut is making adequate hydrochloric acid (which natural water content of raw helps) protein digestion shouldn’t be an issue. For older dogs that may be inefficient at producing hydrochloric acid, foods like apple cider vinegar can be added to mimic hcl.

    I do think HPP products have a better nutritional value than kibble. This is demonstrated by the HPP raw not requiring added synthetic vitamins to meet AAFCO minimums in my opinion.

  • patvl246

    My question is slightly off topic, where does dehydrated fit in. Is it still raw? I was buying raw green tripe and chicken from a company that went to strictly dehydrated. I feel it’s no longer raw. Any thoughts, thanks in advance

  • Shawna

    Thing is, as Dr. Mike notes, recontamination is a possibility. If not, no kibble should ever be contaminated.

    I’ve also read that pathogens are becoming resistant to HPP.. Fantastic!!!!!!
    http://aem.asm.org/content/78/9/3234.full

    In the above article they discuss extremely high pressure but the higher the pressure the more “heat” is created from the pressure. So foods subjected to too high a pressure really could be “cooked”. I have to wonder if this is a possible cause of the Nature’s Variety HPP raw products being such a different texture than say the Primal products (Primal makes a point of mentioning they use less pressure).

  • 376NYC

    6 raw diet commercial brands use HPP so far: Nature’s Variety, Bravo, Primal, Northwest Naturals, Stewarts, Stella and Chewys.

  • Pattyvaughn

    I think the ones that are doing it have it pretty prominent on their websites. They are trying to put a positive spin on it. And for people who don’t know any better and are concerned about bacteria, it could be a selling point. I think Dr Mike has a lot on his hands with the current projects, so I doubt that we would see a list like this soon unless another poster put it together, but it is a great idea.

  • Johnene Martens

    Would be nice if dog food advisor could create a list of these companies who are all ready doing this. Is there such a list out there somewhere? Or is this something you would have to call and ask before purchasing certain products? or is this something so new that it’s kinda a hidden secret? Was just curious!

  • Pattyvaughn

    I really think HPP has a place in the dog food world. It is better than kibble and many immune compromised dogs should not be raw fed do to the bacteria. I think HPP is a great way to allow those dogs to get better nutrition without further risking their health. The problem is if regulatory agencies try to force all raw food manufacturers to go HPP, which is how it is starting to look.

  • Brian Henry

    I think the real question here is whether or not the hpp raw foods are more easily digested than cooked kibble. And do they have a better nutritional value than kibble? I use Stella and Chewys which utilizes hpp and I have seen very ill dogs bounce back to health when put on these diets.

  • HealthyDogs

    There are many ways to cook. IMO HPP is a cooking process, just not through heat. In the culinary world, you can “cook” through heat, acid, pressure (sous vide).
    So it probably, like most things, depends on what your priorities and risk/reward level is. If you are looking for a moist, less processed food, HPP is probably okay. However if you are looking for Raw, I personally don’t see in the dogs fed HPP the same results as non HPP foods.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Obviously, you know something, but apparently not as much as you think you do.

  • Kenneth

    Theres no such as thing really as ‘homemade raw’. Only raw meaty bones and organ stuff that you dont ‘home prepare’ other then just package it and freeze it thaw it feed it. Thats it! To much buying into hype of homemade raw. Its another way the socalled raw advocates spreading homemade raw add this and this and this much and oh lord dont makle a mistakje coz you will kill your pet nosense. And then they want your credit card to get you to buy that enzyme supplement or that probiotic one. WQhen you just need to feed rmbs and the like on the grass and soil and add green tripe so on. Like the Billinghuirst band wagon. Oh just buy my BARF patty and she’ll be okay mate. Just package the raw meaty bones and the like in bags and keep in the freezer and thaw it when wantin g to feed it or feed it frozen like on hot days and walla all is done. To much lies going around.

  • Kenneth

    Theres no such as thing really as ‘homemade raw’. Only raw meaty bones and organ stuff that you dont ‘home prepare’ other then just package it and freeze it thaw it feed it. Thats it! To much buying into hype of homemade raw. Its another way the socalled raw advocates spreading homemade raw add this and this and this much and oh lord dont makle a mistakje coz you will kill your pet nosense. And then they want your credit card to get you to buy that enzyme supplement or that probiotic one. WQhen you just need to feed rmbs and the like on the grass and soil and add green tripe so on. Like the Billinghuirst band wagon. Oh just buy my BARF patty and she’ll be okay mate. Just package the raw meaty bones and the like in bags and keep in the freezer and thaw it when wantin g to feed it or feed it frozen like on hot days and walla all is done. To much lies going around.

  • losul

    To me, Raw means not only, uncooked, but also not refined, not processed, and not treated in any way. So NO HPP processed is most definitely not raw and I want nothing to do with it. If all commercial raw food manufacturers go this route of selling “unraw” meats forcefully or not, then I will be forced to completely go the route of “uncommercial” dog foods.