What preservatives are in cat food?

I have noticed that the cat food I buy never goes off. It just dries out and goes a darker colour. There is no mold on it, nothing. This seems abnormal but may not be. However, it used to go off and the authors of the Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook state that wet cat food should be removed after about half an hour because it goes off so fast. I vary what I buy. I thought I’d check out the additives in Felix – As Good As It Looks, which are:

  • Fe(E1)
  • I(E2)
  • Cu(E4)
  • Mn(E5)
  • Zn(E6)
  • E499

These are not preservatives but I’ll discuss them nonetheless. You can tell that these are metals because Fe is iron, Cu is copper, Mn is manganese and Zn is zinc in chemical symbols.

I found it difficult to discover what these additives are. Initial research indicates that the list of items above are:

  • E1 Iron (mono-hydrate iron sulphate)
  • E2 Iodine (anhydride calcium iodate)
  • E4 Copper (pentahydrate copper sulphate)
  • E5 Manganese (manganese oxide)
  • E6 Zinc (zinc sulfate monohydrate, chelates)

Mono-hydrate iron sulphate

Once again it is difficult to find what connection this chemical has to cat food. It is used in many chemical process unconnected with food. It is poisonous if ingested as a powder. However it is used in animal feeds as it can stimulate the growth of animal’s body.

Anhydride calcium iodate (calcium iodate anhydrous)

This is a source if iodine in cat food. The amount if iodine in cat food is poorly regulated and varies significantly (in the US). Too much or too little and swings from one to the other can cause thyroid disorders in cats (hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism).

Copper sulphate

This is a copper supplement in pet food. It is AAFCO approved in the US. Copper sulphate is also used for all kinds chemical processes and the amount in food has to be regulated carefully.

Manganese Oxide

For bone development and enhances the immune system.

Zinc Sulphate

Used to supply zinc in animal feeds.

E499

This is “cassia gum”. It is a thickener and gelling agent.

As stated, none of these additives are preservatives. There are no preservatives listed on the cat food label on the UK cat food I buy. In the US they have to be listed (am I correct?). Preservatives can be harmful.

In the UK, feed for livestock must list all the ingredients in descending order by weight. Labelling requirements for pet food is less strict. The regulations are governed by the European Union.

Conclusion? You’ll have to contact the manufacturer to find out what preservatives are used in cat food because they certainly are not listed on the label. One preservative mentioned on the internet (but not the box) is “ethoxyquin”. This is a nasty chemical. I would like to know if it is in the cat food I buy.

The PFMA (http://pfma.org.uk) states on their website:

If preservatives, antioxidants or colourants have been added to the product their presence may be declared on the label.

This confirms what I have stated above. The word “may” is used so listing preservatives is not obligatory.

I have the impression that preservatives can be dangerous so I telephoned Purina. I spoke to a helpful lady who was not able to tell me there and then what preservatives were in the cat food that I had bought. I requested a list of preservatives and the amounts. She said she’d email the information asap once she had spoken to one of her colleagues. She recommended that the cat food was not available for eating after about 30 minutes to one hour after opening the packet (pouch or can).

I’ll update this article once I have received the information. This should happen in several hours.

Update at 12 noon, three hours after my phone call – no email yet. I had hoped for one almost immediately because to be frank the woman should have known the answer to my question immediately.

Update: I received this email recently 8th Nov in the evening:

Dear Mr Broad

Thanks for contacting the PetCare Team earlier today. I am sorry is has taken a little while to get back to you.

I have spoken to the factory and I can confirm that we do not use preservatives in this product because it is thermally processed in hermetically sealed pouches, which means they are not necessary.

Once opened, of course, this means they must be treated as fresh meat and stored accordingly.

Please feel free to contact me again if there is anything else I can help with.

Best regards,

Karina Rix
Pet Care Advisor

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Comments

What preservatives are in cat food? — 10 Comments

  1. Interesting – I really want to know more about this. I am scared of giving my cats big brand name food for so many years because I think they will get cancer from all the sh*t that is in it. I think that its more like cat junk food – full of junk basically and of course they find it yummy – just like a kid wants to eat 10 mars bars. I don’t trust these foods over longer time periods. But I don’t have much of a practical choice – I don’t have relatively easy access to any other type of food. They dominate the market with their junk food. Purina is part of Nestle – one of the few awfully embarassing and bad things Switzerland has put in this world.

    • At the moment mine are eating Felix because its the nicest seeming food. Whiskas and Kittecat seem awful and stinky and generally disgusting but I am sure Felix is too just in another way.

    • I am in exactly the same position. I am still waiting for an email from Purina as to what preservatives are in their cat food. I’ll report back asap. I’ll phone them this again afternoon if I don’t get an email. From what I know of preservatives in pet food they are potentially dangerous. It is a question of the amount but over a long period small amounts can cause health problems – a compounded problem.

  2. Micheal thank you for doing this it’s very worrying as my cats like Felix best and I do turn a blind eye that it’s made by a cruel firm and feel awful that I do but our cats needs have to come first.

  3. ‘She recommended that the cat food was not available for eating after about 30 minutes to one hour after opening the packet (pouch or can)’

    This a very worrying for many cat caretakers, including us, does it include folding the sachet over or re covering the can to finish later, or just the food on the cats plate?
    I hope you get some more information soon Michael.

    • It did not fill me with confidence either. As it happens I told her that Charlie prefers wet cat food when it is about five hours old! That stopped her in her tracks.

      I chased her for the information about preservatives and she told she is still waiting for the information from one of the technical staff.

      I am still waiting at 6:42 pm.

  4. My cats have felix too they seem to prefer it, now I,m a bit worried but what are the choices. My Tiggy who passed recently had an overactive thyroid but she was 14 and had a heart condition too which was what killed her in the end !!

    • Hi Valerie, I am still waiting on Purina to tell me what the preservatives are. They are not very keen to tell me it seems.

      As for hyperthyroidism that could be caused by the iodine in cat food but no one knows. Not even the vets. I find that state of affairs unsatisfactory.

      I’ll do some more work on this for other cat foods tomorrow and hopefully I will have heard from Purina by then.

  5. Hi this is an update. I received the email from Purina. This is it:

    Dear Mr Broad

    Thanks for contacting the PetCare Team earlier today. I am sorry is has taken a little while to get back to you.

    I have spoken to the factory and I can confirm that we do not use preservatives in this product because it is thermally processed in hermetically sealed pouches, which means they are not necessary.

    Once opened, of course, this means they must be treated as fresh meat and stored accordingly.

    Please feel free to contact me again if there is anything else I can help with.

    Best regards,

    Karina Rix
    Pet Care Advisor

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