Raw Pet Food Quality – What Makes Iron Will Raw Better

August 18, 2023

Raw Pet Food Quality – What Makes Iron Will Raw Better

Raw Pet Food Quality - What You Need to Know

Imagine you see the words “chicken and bone” on a raw pet food label. What do you picture?

Do you imagine a beautiful, whole chicken? A mostly stripped chicken carcass? Or something small and meaty like a bone-in chicken thigh or quarter?

raw pet food quality chicken

Does it surprise you to know that all these items can be classified as “chicken and bone” on a product label?

Items chosen by the manufacturer greatly impact the nutritional adequacy of raw food. Each of the above items can be used in raw pet food with great results when care and consideration is taken. If these raw product cuts are arbitrarily thrown together, the results can be disastrous for raw pet food quality.

Creating Bone-in Recipes is an Art Form

If the cut of meat selected contains a significant amount of bone (carcass) it needs to be paired with additional lean muscle meat. Otherwise the bone content and overall calcium content of the product will be too high. Not all manufacturers take this into consideration, and this is why the company you choose matters.

Iron Will Raw is often asked why our chicken products have multiple chicken items listed twice, it is because the first ingredient “Chicken and bone” refers to the raw meaty bone portion and the second ingredient refers to the additional boneless muscle meat added to balance out the bone (calcium) content in the recipe.

You may find yourself asking why this matters. Extra calcium just makes the stool white, right? Wrong! It matters because calcium, in addition to phosphorus, is a key mineral in the formation and maintenance of strong bones. Excessive calcium can cause growth abnormalities in young animals and also prevent proper absorption of other minerals in both adult and young animals.

Not all animals handle excess calcium well and not all life stages can prevent the body from absorbing too much calcium. This is just one example as to why the items used for “chicken and bone” matter, there are others including decreased amount of amino acids (lack of muscle meat means less protein) and fatty acid imbalances.

Raw Pet Food Quality: Ingredients Matter

Do you know what goes into the product you are currently feeding your pet? If not, ask! The answers may surprise you.

raw pet food quality

Meat Sourcing - What is in Your Raw Pet Food?

In the raw pet food community, you will notice that companies often convey that they use ingredients from Federally and/or Provincially inspected facilities to build the consumer's trust in their raw pet food quality. This can be such a great piece of information that gives you confidence in a company! But, did you know there are different forms of meat products that come from these facilities?

Let’s investigate!

In Ontario, Canada, commercial meat processing facilities often have multiple meat products available including meat intended for human consumption, animal food and pet food (which can also be used for research). It is important to note that these 3 types of meat products are not created equally. If a manufacturer claims that they use ingredients from Federally and/or Provincially inspected facilities, but don’t list the actual ingredient, consider looking into this.

Meat For Human Consumption

Meat for human consumption is a meat product that has been inspected and is deemed suitable for human consumption. Meaning that it’s ready to eat. This meat would be found at your local grocer and is often used by high-quality pet food companies.

Meat Products For Pet Food (Food For Companion Animals)

Meat products for pet food (food for companion animals) has been inspected but will not be sent to grocery stores for human consumption. This can either be because the processing facility does not have additional space for further handling (kidney and liver require further processing) OR, the quality of the meat product does not meet certain specifications.

Meat Production For Animal Food

Meat product for animal food* is any part of a carcass that is deemed NOT suitable for human consumption. This meat is also NOT inspected by a meat inspector and is not a meat product that belongs in our pets' food.

When inspected meat is sent from these facilities, there are many rules and procedures that need to be followed. A Certificate of Analysis (CofA) is mandatory for certain products (heart, cheek meat, trimmings, etc). These products MUST be stamped with a number which can be found on the packaging or even on the meat itself (every facility has their own number, given by CFIA or the provincial institution). If the animal has reached a certain age then the meat must be marked with a stamp on the documents and boxes.

All of this information is of high importance for companies like Iron Will Raw who have AND maintain HACCPCanada Certification. This information plays a key role in our product traceability program as we are able to trace all products from raw materials to customer point of sale.

*Animal food is a food that is fed to any animal that is not used as a food animal and is also not a companion animal.

raw pet food quality checklist

We are Committed to Providing Safe, Quality-Assured Raw Pet Food

We're sure you've heard it before "Iron Will Raw is PROUD to be the first HACCP Canada Certified raw pet food manufacturer in Eastern Canada" -- but do you know why this is so important? Maybe a better question would be, do you know that there are no federal or provincial regulations to produce raw pet food in Canada? Yup--none.

This is why we're so proud of our HACCP Certification---quality and safety is so important to us that we voluntarily uphold this certification, the same certification that is required to produce food for human consumption in Canada.

This commitment to you and your pets' raw pet food quality is why we’re so proud to be the first raw pet food manufacturer in Eastern Canada to receive HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) Certification. HACCPCanada Certification can only be achieved by maintaining the highest standards in food safety, quality, traceability and accountability.

The manufacturing of safe raw pet food goes beyond the ingredients. Every step of the manufacturing process is critical in maintaining a safe product – being able to trace raw materials from receiving to storage then through production to delivery. This is imperative and not all manufacturers can do this.

It’s no longer enough for pet food manufacturers to claim their food is safe; today’s manufacturers MUST back up these statements. Iron Will Raw maintains HACCPCanada Certification and documentation to prove it!

What Goes into Maintaining Our HACCPCANADA Certification?

Constant testing and documentation -- lots of it!

Checklists and documentation are key when it comes to raw food safety and for 3rd party audits of our facility This documentation verifies that Iron Will Raw has done exactly what we say – on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. By documenting – checklists, programs, validations, and verifications – Iron Will Raw is able to review programs to ensure the most effective safety procedures are being employed at all times. In fact, our documentation undergoes a 3rd party quarterly audit in order to maintain our HACCPCanada certification.

After we follow through with our procedures, we check them again. For example, we perform and log ATP swab testing* at our facility twice a week to confirm that our sanitization program is effective. By following such strict procedures, we are 100% accountable for our products. This is the biggest difference between companies who claim to follow HACCP guidelines and ones that actually do. We have to do what we claim because a 3rd party checks on us. Other manufacturers can make the claim and not follow through because they are not held accountable by a 3rd party.

Ingredient Monitoring is Key to Raw Pet Food Quality

When it comes to making our raw pet food the highest quality, we monitor each ingredient that enters the Iron Will Raw facility. Our team checks and documents the ingredients throughout each step of the production process to ensure that our rigorous standards for both safety and quality are met. We also retain a sample from EVERY batch of Iron Will Raw food that is produced for ongoing testing and quality control.

Here are a few things we track while producing Iron Will Raw Pet Food:

raw pet food quality checklist

What Does Our Traceability Mean for Our Customers?

Traceability gives us the ability to track every aspect of the manufacturing and distribution of a product. It allows us to track and trace each component that comprises a product, from the supplier, through the manufacturing process and, eventually to the final customer.

This is why it is so important for a company to have and maintain HACCPCanada certification and not just operate on their principles alone. Should a product ever be cause for concern, a thorough HACCP Plan details a timely process for how to notify customers and retailers to rectify any issues.

If you have any questions about our HACCPCanada certification facility or species-correct raw food, please contact us on Facebook, Instagram, or through our website by clicking here.

dog waiting for bowl of quality raw pet food

The Cost of Feeding a Raw Diet 

At Iron Will Raw, we manufacture products we believe in and are willing to feed to our own pets at home. This means actively choosing cuts of meat that maintain a high standard of  raw pet food quality to ensure a balanced level of lean muscle meat to fat & bone. 

Pet parents often want to feed a raw pet food diet as cost effectively as possible which is understandable. The idea that a higher cost equals a higher quality is a concept widely accepted in the kibble industry but doesn’t always apply when considering raw pet food. This generalization can drive a raw pet food feeder towards brands that may not adhere to strict quality control processes and safe handling practices.  

As a result, pet parents switch their pet's diet from kibble to raw assuming they're making a healthier choice. Not realizing they've potentially transitioned to a lower quality food which can result in potential health problems later on. Remember that raw feeding does not have to be all or nothing. If choosing only raw isn’t practical, you may want to mix in kibble or dehydrated food. Choosing to use a high-quality kibble as your pet's meal base and using raw as a meal topper is a great option — Do the best you can when you can. For more information, visit our blog.

When deciding on a raw pet food brand, the final product should not cost less than the listed ingredients on the label. If a raw pet food manufacturer is able to produce a properly balanced final product for less than the cost of its individual components found in the grocery store, it may be time to ask yourself how this is possible. Are they using high-fat cuts of meat to reduce cost? Are they using cuts of meat with high bone content? Or perhaps they are using whatever cuts of meat are on sale at the time.   

Here at Iron Will Raw, raw pet food quality and safety are our top priorities. We will never sacrifice either to play the price-point game – it’s not who we are. We make a product that we are proud to stand behind.

We invite you to give our products a try! We know you'll see the difference. 

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