Many co-ops claim to be cheaper than commercially raw foods, but the same quality. We went on a hunt to find out if this is true. Here is what we found… quick summary, they’re more expensive in most cases, and where they are less expensive it is minimal, and the quality is questionable.
Key points on quality:
- NO CLEAR ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS: We found that it was common for answers provided to us to be contradictory depending on who we spoke to in a company.
- WHO OWNS WHAT? Many co-ops are distribution companies, owned by large investment groups, not independent manufacturers with a stake in your pets’ health.
- SAFETY DISCLAIMERS: We found co-op websites with clear, scary disclaimers such as, “Disclaimer: You agree to hold harmless– (Company Name) and accept all risk by executing this purchase.” There are no commercially available raw food companies that defer accountability to pet owners, nor could they if they tried. Commercially available raw food companies must adhere to a variety of regulations that keep your pet and family safe and healthy.
- CO-OPS CAN’T BE REGULATED: Co-op products are not accessible to regulators because they are not in distribution channels. They would never get if something was wrong with the product, even if it could harm your pet. Regulators cannot monitor them to ensure that their nutrient levels are sufficient for the health of your pet or that the products are safe. Because they are a co-op and don’t sell commercially the ONLY regulatory authority over their product has absolutely no ability to regulate them and, after questioning them in depth, the companies we spoke to clearly stated they do not regulate themselves with proper testing protocol As a matter of fact, when asked, the companies we questioned claimed they have never done any testing. They have no clue if their products contain pathogens or at what levels. They have no idea what their nutrients are (Macro/Micro-nutrients). Only some of their products have a Guaranteed Analysis. They generally don’t know their Calcium/Phosphorus Ratios. etc, etc, etc. They do not claim to be a complete diet but recent research has shown that many meat products lack natural amino acids that “should be” present in the meats because the animals are not healthy. There is no way to know if this is the case with them.
- THEY CAN’T CONFIRM QUALITY: Many co-ops claim to be USDA inspected, but so is McDonald’s meat. There are a lot of ways to be mis-lead by this, and other, statements. One raw food co-op claimed they source from Texas because Colorado has so many feedlots. This implies that all Colorado products are made from feed-lot cattle, which is untrue. Additionally, they don’t add that their Texas meats are not grass finished, but GMO corn and soy finished. Additionally, one company we spoke to admitted that Texas and Utah are the only two states where it’s legal to use Rendered Game Meat, which is why they source their Venison from Texas.
- MEATS ARE NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION: One company we spoke to claimed that their meat was USDA inspected and human grade but when asked details they clarified that they purchase their Beef from Auctions for Culled Cattle. What that means is that they are using Dairy Cattle that are not available for human consumptionand are no longer producing milk. Traditionally, dairy cattle are heavily laden with Antibiotics and Hormones. When asked if this company could claim that their “human grade” and “grass fed” meats are antibiotic or hormone free they said no, they can’t say they are. Because they use Auctioned Meats they also cannot claim they are single sourced.
- IMPLIED HEALTHY, BUT NOT REALLY: A Grass fed or humanely raised product is healthier than an animal never given a proper diet. However, in most cases animals are finished on Genetically Modified, unhealthy, chemically laden ingredients. A raw food co-op we spoke to claims to use Grass Fed meats but admitted they are likely given GMO corn and soy and that they would never attempt to make a non-GMO or Organic claim. They do not, obviously, make other claims such as “certified humane,” free of plastics, fair trade, or nutritionally complete either.
- VET ON STAFF: Some companies claim that they have a Veterinarian on staff that uses their products. This, however, has no affiliation with the manufacturing or quality of the food. Most vets know little about nutrition. Further, most co-ops are distributors that have nothing to do with the sourcing or manufacture of the product. So this claim is like saying that McDonald’s is good because a franchise owner is a nutritionist … that doesn’t even relate.
- NO TESTING OR QUALITY VERIFICATION: When we spoke to a local Co-Op (distributor) they clearly and repeatedly stated that if we wanted a comprehensive, clean product that is capable of providing detailed information about their product, we “should not use (their) products.” Commercially available products, however, are heavily regulated and are able to provide proof of regular pathogen testing, nutritional analysis, guarantee analysis verification and much more.
WHAT ABOUT THE PRICES? ISN’T COMMERCIALLY AVAILABLE A LOT MORE MONEY? Here’s a couple of examples for comparison:
Co-Op Beef Blend: 40lbs for $106.25, 100g of food = 155kcals or 48kcals/oz
50lb dog @ 1,000kcals/day (non-fermented) needs 21 ounces/day so 40lbs lasts 30 days = $106.25/mo plus supplements, Add 3oz/day Tripe – 40lbs lasts 213 days = $106.25 + $15.95 =
$122.20/mo plus supplements
Plus you must add digestive enzymes, omega supplements, and phytonutrients to have a comparable product.
Answers Beef Straight: 30lbs for $180, 60 fermented kcals/oz
$140.62/mo and you don’t have to add anything.
So for $18.43 more per month for a 50lb dog you can get the best quality on the market, with no plastics, no questionable ingredients and guaranteed complete and safe diet. However, it costs far more than $18.43/mo to supplement enzymes, omegas and phytonutrients for a 50lb dog.
Co-Op Pork: 40lb – $170.60, 47kcals/oz
50lb dog at 1,000kcals/day (non-fermented) 21 ounces/day, 40lbs lasts 30 days =
Answers Pork: 30lbs – $185, 65kcals/oz,
50lb dog at 750kcals/day (fermented) 12 ounces/day, 30lbs lasts 40 days = $138.75/mo
Answers Pork 30lb bulk is $31.85/mo LESS expensive than the Co-Op Pork 40lb bulk