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I am in the process of writing pet food reviews, and I keep running across "natural flavor"... I've never really paid much attention to it before, but it sounds a bit.. evasive to me. I've contacted both Natural Balance and Earthborn Holistics regarding it, was assured by NB that it does NOT contain MSG but contents are proprietary, and was forwarded the FDA definition by Earthborn:

"The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, essence or protein hydrolysis, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional."

Ok, so this leads me to my next question, which I've forwarded to Natural Balance and Earthborn:

If I understand this correctly, natural flavor can be the product of basically any natural ingredient (the contents of which are proprietary to the company), then in theory, natural flavoring may contain proteins from specific sources which could potentially trigger a reaction in allergic animals? For example, a dog with a beef allergy is fed a food without beef on the label and with natural flavor- however, he may develop a problem if the natural flavoring happened to be rendered from beef products.

Is this a legitimate possibility? If so, how can customers with sensitive animals be sure that they are not inadvertently feeding a product containing the offending ingredient if that ingredient may be included under the proprietary blanket of natural flavor?

Any thoughts? I know there are a lot of educated and passionate dog owners here, and I'd love to get some opinions and information if you've got them. :)
 

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"natural flavor" is almost always a fermentation of organs like chicken liver and the intestinal tract.

it is dried and very very palatable. It is dried rotten guts.

You can compare it to fermented dried bean paste, yummy yummy

I suppose it is possible that is causes a reaction. Chicken fat could have chicken protein in it so many allergy formulas use a vegetable oil.

The Earthborn people have a really effective secret sauce because all the foods, Sportmix, Pro Pac & Earthborn are extremely palatable, smells like Porcini mushrooms to me. Dr. Tim's uses fermented chicken liver and his food is super palatable.
 

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I have an email into the FDA, because manufacturers haven't been able to give me a concrete answer. However, I am also fairly certain that "natural flavor" will almost always contain MSG- "free glutamic acid" as an "impure" byproduct of the fermentation/hydrolysis process. :/
 

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Go look in your pantry. Unless you do all your shopping in the fresh produce aisle, most of what you eat includes "natural flavor" too.

LOL, does that make it any better? This is why my pantry is basically empty except for tuna and crackers :/
 

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LOL, does that make it any better? This is why my pantry is basically empty except for tuna and crackers :/
No, it's just funny to me. The other day I was at Pet Supplies Plus with a good friend of mine. We got into a lively discussion about whether beet pulp is a quality source of fiber or a cheap filler, and whether dogs who do fine on grain should be fed grain-free foods. Our bill at the pet store was well over $100 for high-quality, organic foods for our dogs. Then we stopped for frappucchinos at Starbucks. She and I had a good laugh about it.
 

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I cannot speak for other companies but I know that Life's Abundance contains "natural flavors" which the formulator developed herself. In this case it is derived from beef almost like a beef stock. No, it does not contain MSG etc in this case. The important thing would be to know the exact AAFCO definition for "natural flavors" and understand what can fit into that as this is *always* why things are called what they are called on a guaranteed analysis. It is these definitions that manufacturers must follow and the definitions can be odd or not all inclusive at times. For example Life's Abundance also contains "egg product." People have various ideas of what that is (usually negative) but it can vary greatly. In LA it is whole eggs, dried, devoid of the shell. It is the lack of the shell that causes it to become a "product." In other cases it is indeed "bad" eggs from chicken farms that are dried etc. The problem is that many of the terms used by the AAFCO can apply to such various levels of quality. It is difficult for the casual consumer to understand and causes much debate.

As for the OPs question...you are left calling/contacting the manufacturer and accepting their answer as to what their particular "natural flavor" is.

Hey also, if you are interested in a private conversation I did approx 4 years of research on Beet pulp lol I learned *a lot* and found it and the topic of fiber sources and uses very interesting. If you would like to bounce some thoughts off each other please PM me :)

Cherri
 
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