I don't know when they started adding this ingredient to their treats; clearly, I've been lazy about following my own advice to always read labels for any foods or treats. I focused on this the other day when a website visitor emailed me to let me know that when she looked at the Halo treats she's heard me rave about, she noticed carrageenan on the ingredient label. Deep mournful sigh. I'm grateful to her for the heads up, and I'm reminded formulations can change often. Blink and next thing you know your favorite food or treat contains some additive that not only adds no nutritional value but is linked with causing or aggravating intestinal disorders.
Ironically, only last month, I wrote a little missive about why carrageenan may be worth trying to avoid in one of my "L'il Bites" - a super spiffy new feature on this site, by the way, so check it out!
Feel free to read it if you like, but the Cliff's Notes version is that this is a highly controversial food additive (a "texture enhancer") directly associated in scores of peer-reviewed medical studies as an agent that induces gastrointestinal inflammation - and has been identified as a possible carcinogen to boot.
I'm disappointed in Halo on this one - though they're definitely not a lone wolf in adding this ingredient to a food product. It's all over the darn place in pet food and human food.
Wilson and Sidney-Beans' days of enjoying those treats are behind them. The good news? There are still healthy treat choices out there. I just stocked up today at my favorite store, Petsage, on a bunch of Bravo's Bonus Bites - and a taste test here gave them four dew-claws up.
Cheers and hoorays and bravos for Bravo.
And a wag of my finger at Halo. Pains me to do that, as they're generally a pretty cool company: they've done some great stuff promoting animal welfare and rescue just for starters. And I'm grateful that Halo treats helped to transition scores of cats from dry food to wet or homemade food.
But when it comes to nutrition for the cats, I'm just not willing to compromise when I don't have to - and when I have a choice. I wrote them today to ask what on earth they were thinking by using this very questionable, and, arguably harmful, ingredient to what was a fantastically popular and otherwise great choice for a cat treat. We'll see what they say. I'm an optimist at heart - and like to think that good people looking squarely at facts will come to a reasonable conclusion.
- I only hope they don't offer the weak (and since discredited) defense that other food manufacturers are using - about how only "degraded" carrageenan is a problem: the latest science shows that both degraded and undegraded carraggeenan "inevitably co-exist in food products." (References: here, see bottom of page 2 and top of page 3; and here.)
Too risky for my taste, carrageenan. An abundance of caution seems a sensible approach when it comes to additives to foods, especially those like carrageenan which add no nutritional value. I don't know what their calculus or rationale was for adding this to their product - but I cast my vote against anything that might put our critters at risk with no discernible benefit to outweigh the possible dangers to their long-term health.
Perhaps Halo improved the texture of their product with carrageenan. But they've lost two previously enthusiastic cat customers for now - at least until the carrageenan is gone.