At Raw K9, we are proud participants in the Never Ever Beef program, meaning that all of the beef used in our products comes from animals that were never ever given any growth promotants, antibiotics, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In this blog post, we take an in-depth look at the Never Ever Beef program and why only choosing dog food made from Never Ever beef is essential for your best friend’s health.
The Never Ever program is a voluntary USDA standard program that was established in 2009 to indicate that a product’s meat is hormone-, GMO-, and antibiotic-free. While it does not address specific husbandry practices or access to pasture, all of the beef we use in our raw dog foods are not only Never Ever, but also 100% grass-fed, pasture-raised, and humanely harvested in the United States.
What Are Growth Promotants?
Growth promotants — sometimes referred to as “growth implants, “growth hormones,” or “steroids” — are hormones that are typically administered through a smell pellet placed under the skin on the back of an animal’s ear or through the animal’s feed. This is done to increase their feed efficiency. Feed efficiency refers to the ability of an animal to better use the nutrients in their food to gain weight. Thus, animals given growth promotants gain weight much more quickly than they would have naturally, allowing them to reach market weight for slaughter at a fast rate.
The two most common types of growth promotants are ractopamine and rbST. Ractopamine is associated with major health problems — including acute toxicity, carcinogenicity, cardiovascular effectives, and behavioral changes — in food-producing animals, as well as the humans and pets who eat their meat. The use of ractopamine is banned or highly regulated in many countries across the world, except for the United States.
Also known as “growth hormone,” rbST is a natural protein hormone that primarily works to increase milk production in cows. The use of rbST in cattle is very controversial, since it increases the risk of mastitis (a potentially fatal mammary gland infection) in dairy cows. It is also controversial for its effects on the humans and pets who eat rbST-fed beef, as some studies show that the hormone can influence the growth of tumors and may be linked to the development of prostate, colorectal, breast, and other cancers.
What Are Livestock Antibiotics?
Antibiotic use in livestock is a widespread practice throughout the United States. Its controversy comes from its ability to promote drug-resistant bacteria (also known as “superbugs”) in humans and animals, which can pose serious, potentially fatal risks for both species. Treating livestock with antibiotics can lead to up to 90% of the medicine being excreted in their meat, thus passing on to whoever eats it. This in turn can lead to resistant bacteria colonizing the gut, causing infections which are not only unpleasant in themselves but also near-impossible to treat if they are serious enough to require antibiotics. While in 2017 the FDA strictly prohibited many antibiotics from being used for growth promotion or feed efficiency purposes, many pet food producers unfortunately continue this practice today.
What Are GMOs?
The term “GMO” refers to any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. In terms of dog food, GMOs refer mostly to genetically modified plants that are used in livestock feed. Most of the GMOs being produced today are used for this purpose. GMOs are primarily created to resist certain pests, diseases, environmental conditions, spoilage, and herbicides. They also may improve the nutrient profile of certain crops.
The use of GMOs has produced ongoing controversy within the agricultural, bioethical, environmental, and consumer rights communities. One well-known risk of genetic modification is its introduction of allergens into animal feed, which can cause severe allergic reactions in humans and pets. GMOs may also cause toxicity — including hepatic, pancreatic, renal, and reproductive effects — in both the livestock being fed the genetically modified crops and the humans and pets who subsequently eat their meat. Lastly, GMOs may promote drug-resistant bacteria, since antibiotic-resistant genes are often used in the genetic engineering process.
At Raw K9, all of our raw beef products are always hormone-, antibiotic-, and GMO-free, because we never sell our customers products that we wouldn’t be happy to feed our own pets. Protect your dog's health with Raw K9.