Could the food you serve your companion be stale, or even (heaven forbid) rancid?
Have you ever stopped to think about the impact of improper food storage on your companion’s health? Today’s high quality dog and cat foods have greater nutrient density, higher fat content and fewer preservatives than ever before, and must be stored appropriately, especially in warm weather, to avoid losing nutritional value or going rancid. ‘Best By’ dates are typically one year from the day the food was made, but this refers to unopened bags only. Once opened, a different freshness clock kicks in, and this is where many people go wrong. Natural preservatives like mixed tocopherols (Vit E) and citric acid (Vit C) have replaced toxic chemical preservatives, but their stabilizing abilities aren’t as strong. Too often we hear stories of cats or dogs refusing to eat the bottom of the bag. Chances are they’re detecting an ‘off’ odor our own noses can’t yet perceive. Here are some tips to maintain the quality of dry food after opening the bag:
Store in a cool, dry place.
Heat, light and humidity are the enemies of freshness and nutrition. Don’t store food outdoors or next to hot appliances. To protect fragile nutrients, keep tightly sealed against moisture and insects by pushing the excess air out and resealing the bag or securing with a bag clip.
Store in the original bag.
Most pet food bags are designed with one-way valves or micro-perforations to allow air and moisture to escape, preventing oxidation and mold, and are the best way to store in our opinion. Transferring to a closed airtight container may ‘sweat’ the food, causing it to go bad. Another compelling reason to keep the bag is for the batch and date codes, in case your companion becomes sick and you need to know what he was eating, or in the event of a future recall.
If you use an additional container, wash out residue between bags.
One way to go is putting the entire bag inside another container, but be aware that old rancid fats can stick to the inside and contaminate any new food it comes into contact with.
Buy food to last no more than 4 to 6 weeks at a time.
Once you open the bag, that is Day One. Buying in volume or taking advantage of sales is of no benefit to your animal if the food will lose potency before it’s been consumed. Depending on temperature and humidity, your pet food will start oxidizing and losing nutrient content. You can freeze or refrigerate kibble in sealed ziplock bags to extend shelf life, up to 6 months for freezing.