Rachael Ray is known for being a television personality and celebrity chef. Not only does she host her own lifestyle program “Rachael Ray,” but she also hosts three other Food Network series. In addition to having her own line of cooking supplies and a number of cookbooks, she now has her own brand of dog food called Nutrish. The tag line for her line of pet foods is “Real Recipes. Real Ingredients. Real Good.” On the website for Rachael Ray Nutrish Chicken/Vegetable Dog Food, “U.S. farm-raised chicken” is listed as the number one ingredient. This dog food formula is also marketed as being free from poultry by-product meals, fillers, wheat, and wheat gluten. It is said to contain natural fiber sources from wholesome grains and veggies with no artificial flavors or preservatives. An in-depth evaluation of the ingredients list for this product, however, tells a different story. While chicken is indeed the number one ingredient, there are several questionable ingredients listed below. Before you purchase this brand of dog food, you would be wise to consider the ingredients used to make this dog food and how they impact the total nutritional value of the product.
Chicken, Chicken Meal, Ground Rice, Soybean Meal, Whole Grain Corn, Poultry Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Brown Rice, Natural Chicken Flavor, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Dicalcium Phosphate, Dehydrated Alfalfa, Corn Gluten Meal, Dried Peas, Dried Carrots, Olive Oil, Iron Oxide (color), Zinc Sulfate, Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Ferrous Sulfate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Selenite, Biotin, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (A Source of Vitamin K Activity), Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Sulfate, Folic Acid
Explanation of Top 5 Ingredients
The top 5 ingredients included in Rachael Ray Nutrish Chicken/Vegetable Dog Food are: chicken, chicken meal, ground rice, soybean meal, and whole grain corn. Below you will find a brief explanation of each of these ingredients:
Chicken – The top health claim made by this Rachael Ray Nutrish Chicken/Vegetable Dog Food is that it uses “U.S. farm-raised chicken” as the number one ingredient. It is true that this ingredient is listed first on the ingredients list, but there is something you should consider about this ingredient. Fresh chicken contains up to 80% water so, once the food is rendered (cooked), its protein content by volume will be much lower than the original content.
Chicken Meal – The saving grace of this formula (since there is much less chicken protein after cooking than the ingredients list would lead you to believe) is that chicken meal is listed second. Do not let the word “meal” fool you into thinking this is some kind of by-product. Chicken meal is actually chicken meat that has been cooked down to a moisture content around 10%. This means that it contains up to 300% more protein than fresh chicken – this also makes it a very valuable addition to this pet food formula. The fact that this ingredient is listed second is another benefit, though the remaining three ingredients in the top 5 for this formula are not so beneficial.
Ground Rice – This ingredient is another name for rice flour and it can be made from either white or brown rice – the ingredient list for Rachael Ray Nutrish Chicken/Vegetable Dog Food doesn’t specific which it is. Though rice flour is gluten-free, it provides little nutritional value for your dog aside from calories for energy and some dietary fiber. It is slightly troubling to see another form of rice – brown rice – listed further down on the ingredients list.
Soybean Meal – Soybean meal is the by-product resulting from soybean oil production and its primary use is in farm animal feed. Though soybean meal is gluten- and grain-free, it is generally not considered to be a valuable addition to dog food formulas. Soybean meal does contain about 48% protein, but it is less biologically value than any animal-based source of protein. Commercial pet food manufacturers often use ingredients like this to increase the protein content of their products without actually adding more meat.
Whole Grain Corn – There is little argument that corn is never a valuable addition to pet food formulas. Not only is it incredibly common as a food allergen, but it provides very little nutritional value for your pet. Even though this is “whole grain” corn, it is not a healthy whole grain for your dog. Aside from providing some energy in the form of calories, this ingredient doesn’t do much for your dog. The fact that this ingredient is listed within the top 5 ingredients for this Rachael Ray Nutrish Chicken/Vegetable Dog Food results in a deduction of points.
Other Notable Ingredients
Aside from the top five ingredients, there are several other notable ingredients found in Rachael Ray Nutrish Chicken/Vegetable Dog Food. Some of these ingredients include: poultry fat, dried beet pulp, brown rice, dehydrated alfalfa, corn gluten meal, dried peas, and olive oil. Poultry fat is a mixture of good and bad. It is typically obtained during the rendering (cooking) process and it is rich in linoleic acid, a type of omega-6 fatty acid that is essential for dogs. Because it is called poultry fat, however (instead of chicken fat), it is likely to be from low-quality sources. As such, this ingredient can only be considered of moderate nutritional value for your dog. Olive oil is a moderately valuable addition to this formula because it contains oleic acid, a type of monounsaturated fat. Though this ingredient is not bad for your dog, an animal-based oil like fish oil would be more biologically valuable.
Dried beet pulp is another controversial ingredient and it is widely considered to be an inexpensive filler ingredient. This ingredient is the by-product of sugar beet processing and it is high in fiber. Dogs only require a moderate amount of dietary fiber in their diets, however, and there are several other high-fiber ingredients listed including brown rice and dried peas. Brown rice is a complex carbohydrate and, as long as it is cooked, it is fairly easy for your dog to digest. Again, however, this ingredient provides little nutritional value for your dog aside from its energy in the form of calories.
Dehydrated alfalfa, corn gluten meal, and dried peas are also plant-based protein sources. Alfalfa contains about 18% protein, corn gluten meal contains about 60% protein, and dried peas have about 27% protein. Though these ingredients are high in protein, they are less biologically valuable for dogs than any animal-based source of protein. All three of these ingredients are likely added to increase the protein content of this Rachael Ray Nutrish Chicken/Vegetable Dog Food without adding any extra meat. The fact that there are three ingredients like this (in addition to the soybean meal) is very troubling.
For the most part, this Rachael Ray Nutrish Chicken/Vegetable Dog Food can only be said to provide average nutritional value for your dog – and that is being generous. The only redeeming qualities of this dog food formula are the inclusion of fresh chicken and chicken meal as the top two ingredients. This formula loses points, however, for listing two starchy ingredients and a plant-based protein as the other inclusions in the top 5 ingredients. It is also troubling to see so many plant-based proteins like dehydrated alfalfa, corn gluten meal, and dried peas which are likely only used to increase the protein content of this formula. These ingredients do provide some protein but, again, it is much less biologically valuable to your dog than any animal-based protein source would be. The inclusion of several ingredients which can be considered “fillers” also results in a loss of points for this formula.
This Rachael Ray Nutrish Chicken/Vegetable Dog Food receives a paw rating of 2.5 out of 5. Though it does contain two high-quality sources of animal protein listed first and second on the ingredients list, several of the other ingredients are nothing more than fillers. It is also troubling that so many plant-based proteins are used to increase the protein content of this formula without adding any extra meat. For a food celebrity like Rachael Ray who devotes her life to feeding people, one might expect her to take the nutrition of animals a little more seriously.