Would you keep a loaf of bread open in your kitchen or garage for 39 days and then eat it? 39 days is how long the typically purchased bag of kibble dog food remains open before being completely consumed. This lengthy shelf time, combined with often poor storage conditions, leads to the oxidation of fats, nutrient degradation, and infestation by molds, mites, and other food spoilers.
Dry dog foods usually have a one-year “shelf life.” That means the food is “good” for up to one year after the manufacturing date. Many have a “best if used by” date on the package.
However, you must remember that this applies to unopened bags! The shelf-life is based on the premise that the bag is intact, without any holes or tears, so not enough oxygen can migrate into the food in one year to cause significant oxidation, nutrient degradation, or microbial growth problems.
As soon as you open the bag, the spoilage essentially begins. Oxygen, moisture, light, mold spores, storage mites, and other spoilers enter the bag.
Antioxidants are used to forestall oxidation – things like vitamin E and other natural sources – but over time, with continual exposure to oxygen whenever you open the bag (and of course, the bags aren’t perfect oxygen barriers either), the antioxidants are eventually all oxidized (used up) and the fat, beginning with the more fragile omega-3s, start turning rancid.
In a study done in the early 90s by Hermann Esterbauer entitled “Cytotoxicity and genotoxicity of lipid oxidation problems.” published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, he found frequent consumption of oxidized fats may cause cancer and contribute to many chronic health problems.
In addition, the nutrition of the food at the bottom of a bag left open for 39 days will be considerably reduced compared to that of the top of the bag. Many vitamins are susceptible to loss of potency during long-term storage.
And storing open bags of dry dog food for 39 days in warm, humid areas (like busy kitchens, laundry rooms, or garages!) promotes the growth of molds. These molds include Aspergillus flavus mold, with produces Aflatoxin B1, the most potent naturally occurring carcinogenic substance known. People can’t see low mold levels with the naked eye, and most dogs can’t taste it. According to the “Aflatoxicosis in Dogs” study published in the American Journal of Veterinary Research and also according to the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology’s study titled “Mycotoxins: Risks in Plant, Animal, and Human Systems,” mycotoxins kill most dogs slowly by suppressing the immune system and creating long-term health problems in all organs of the body.
Here are simple ways to keep dogs who eat kibble healthier.
- Keep kibble in its original bag, even if you typically use an airtight container. Pouring the food out exposes all the pieces of kibble to air, increasing the oxidation potential.
- Buy smaller bags and look for the most recent manufacturing dates.
- Use the bag as soon as possible – ideally 7-14 days.
- Keep food dry. If it changes color or has a chemical or bad odor, throw it away.
- Don’t buy a damaged bag of food.
- Do not leave food out in a bowl for more than 8 hours. Ideally, avoid free feeding.
As an Animal B.E.S.T. practitioner, you can uniquely teach dog owners this critical information to keep their fur babies healthy and happy for a very long life!
Come and learn Animal B.E.S.T. at Morter Farm on May 5-7. Click here for more information.