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First of all: Why do we choose to give cats freeze-dried pet food (snacks & staple food)?

Advantages of freeze-dried pet food - more delicious + more nutritious

Freeze-dried pet food can gain a foothold in the market, of course, it is inseparable from cats’ love. Cats are very smart animals. Their keen sense of smell allows them to distinguish whether food is delicious or not. As carnivores, they will distinguish and choose food with more meat and better quality.

A major feature of the freeze-drying process is that it can retain the color and aroma of the original ingredients - the original ingredients are cats’ favorite meat, so after freeze-drying, the characteristics of the meat will be retained: the color of raw meat (white meat, including chicken) White (white, red meat including beef is brown), a slightly fragrant meaty smell, broken and connected meat fibers - these are all cats can distinguish, so good freeze-drying will be loved by cats. . Who doesn’t love good meat?

In addition, the freeze-drying process also has a very important advantage, which is that it can retain the natural nutrients of the ingredients to the greatest extent. Most of the food ingredients currently on the market are processed using high-temperature processes. As we all know, high-temperature processing will cause a certain degree of damage to the nutritional elements of the food itself, especially water-soluble vitamins. Freeze-drying is the process that causes the least nutritional damage to food ingredients - therefore, the nutrients contained in freeze-dried food are not only higher in content, but also more natural and high-quality, which is more beneficial to the health of cats.

These are the two main reasons why freeze-dried pet food is highly regarded.

So, how does the freeze-drying process achieve these two advantages?

The "full name" of freeze-drying is freeze-drying. As the name suggests, freeze-drying consists of two major processes: "freezing" and "drying". Then, to produce high-quality freeze-dried pet food, or the production standards of high-quality freeze-dried pet food, is naturally related to these two major processes:

(1) Freezing stage - rapid freezing. Only with smaller ice crystals can the quality of fresh products be maintained.

The main job at this stage is to freeze all the water (free water and bound water) in the ingredients into ice crystals to prepare for the next stage of sublimation drying (solid ice turns into gaseous water vapor).

This involves an "expert" knowledge on the speed of freezing. In order to achieve rapid freezing, high requirements are placed on the equipment of the production company. The jargon is "rapid heating and cooling". The advantage is that it can quickly form ice crystals from the moisture in the food. Such ice crystals are relatively small, and their texture is similar to that of fresh food. They have little impact on cells, can be kept intact, and have better quality. However, slow freezing can easily cause cell death. Affects the texture of freeze-dried products.

(2) Drying stage - vacuum drying, sufficient low temperature = enough water

Really good freeze-dried food uses a long period of low temperature of at least 24 hours during the vacuum drying process to fully sublimate ice crystals into water vapor. This kind of freeze-dried food can truly retain the natural nutrition of the ingredients to the greatest extent, and the moisture content can be controlled within 5%, and even better, within 3%.

The low enough moisture content makes freeze-dried food easier to store. For foods that need to be left for a long time after being exposed to room temperature air after opening, excessive moisture is a major source of bacterial growth. The extremely low water content of freeze-dried products leaves no place for such bacteria to grow. As long as they are not exposed to or have minimal exposure to moisture in the new air, they can be stored safely for a very long time.

Good freeze-drying has unparalleled advantages, but also because of its high cost, "there is no other problem except that it is expensive", and it has always been at the top of consumption in the market. Some unscrupulous merchants, under the banner of "freeze-drying", actually start to fake the raw materials, using cooked meat or meat powder instead of raw meat, skipping freezing into ice, and directly using high-temperature vacuum drying (liquid water turns into water vapor). The method can replace low-temperature vacuum drying, or reduce costs by compressing vacuum drying time, but still sell freeze-dried food at the high price consumers are aware of and make profits from it.

So how do we tell the authenticity of freeze-dried products? What kind of freeze-drying is [fake freeze-drying]?

Regarding the judgment of freeze-dried products, we divide it into two parts to explain: poor quality freeze-drying vs. fake freeze-drying that is not freeze-drying at all.

1. Poor quality freeze-drying (1): thick tissue, rough structure, bad taste

The freeze-drying on the left side of the picture below is a typical example of slow freezing + short-time high-temperature vacuum drying. You can also clearly see the large "pores" left after the larger ice crystal structure has sublimated, and it is not as compact as the freeze-drying texture on the right. dense.

As we all know, cat owners are very picky about food. The texture, hardness, density, temperature, etc. of the food will all affect whether they feel comfortable eating. If the moment his tongue touches the particles, he feels they are rough and uncomfortable, and he will stop eating. To parents, it seems that the cat does not like to eat.

2. Poor quality freeze-drying (2): extremely high water content and extremely high bacterial count

Freeze-drying without high-temperature processes can indeed preserve the original natural nutrients of ingredients to the greatest extent. However, if the production factory cuts corners and the drying time is not long enough, the freeze-dried product will have a higher moisture content, ultimately leading to bacteria and Microorganisms exceed the standard.

The quality of such freeze-dried food is very poor, and the judgment method is also very simple: if it feels soft, moist, or even a little wet to the touch, it basically means that the moisture content is too high, and the number of bacteria and microorganisms in the product There will be no protection. This situation is common in the best-selling mixed freeze-drying barrels on major platforms, as well as various simply packaged freeze-dried foods: after opening it, take it out and pinch or break it, and you will feel that the thing is very soft and the water content is not low at all - —The bacterial and microbial content of such products will not be low, and eating them will have a great impact on the health of pets, especially cats with relatively weak gastrointestinal systems.

3. Fake freeze-drying: direct high-temperature drying, the nutrition of the food is completely destroyed and the taste is easy to change.

High-temperature drying is one of the most commonly used food processing methods. It can quickly remove moisture from food materials (in comparison, freeze-drying removes water very slowly), and it will also denature and lose nutrients in food materials. The most intuitive feeling is fragrance, but this fragrance is very short-lived. Because the food is destroyed by high temperatures, it easily deteriorates, causing fat oxidation and rancidity, resulting in a havoc flavor. Not only does it affect palatability, but it also has a greater risk of causing cancer.

The taste of good freeze-dried raw meat will be a little fishy smell of meat - not the same fragrance and fragrance as grilled or fried meat; moreover, this natural meat flavor will last for a long time Fragrant. Of course, our smart masters also prefer such natural fragrance.

This kind of "fake freeze-drying" only has the gimmick of freeze-drying, and completely misses the true connotation of freeze-dried food - locking in the natural nutrition of the ingredients, completely retaining the color, aroma and excellent shelf life of the ingredients. So why spend the price of freeze-dried food to buy barbecue jerky?

Then someone may ask, how can freeze-dried food be sterilized without a high-temperature process?

It’s easy to say but difficult to do – there are two main sterilization procedures for freeze-dried food.

First, freeze drying, which starts with [freeze]. Freezing below -35°C for more than 3 hours is enough to cause most of the microorganisms in the food to enter a dormant state or even die. In a good factory, all raw materials, especially meat, will be stored in a special freezer for storing raw materials - an environment with a temperature below 60 degrees Celsius - for more than 48 hours, which is enough to freeze cells and allow microorganisms to lose their Activity (death).

The next most comprehensive sterilization method is [irradiation]. The most commonly heard sterilization methods are "high temperature sterilization", "pasteurization", etc. The former uses high temperatures exceeding 100°C for sterilization. We can basically achieve this effect in our daily cooking and cooking, but this is not in line with the freeze-drying production process and effect - high temperature will cause damage to micronutrients such as vitamins. "Pasteurization" is often used to sterilize milk. The use temperature is lower than 82°C. The relative temperature is lower and the damage to nutrients is reduced. However, this usually only kills some microorganisms, so the shelf life of milk is short.

[Irradiation sterilization] is currently the most comprehensive sterilization technology. It can kill almost all active substances while retaining the characteristics of the food to the greatest extent. Therefore, good freeze-drying factories now add professional irradiation sterilization processes to ensure the safety of freeze-dried food.

Can it be fed to cats and dogs if it has not been irradiated? The answer is yes, but only within the shelf life. The shelf life of low-temperature sterilization is relatively short. Basically, it is not recommended to consume it from half a month to more than one month (refer to the shelf life of milk).

In short, real freeze-drying and good freeze-drying are not easy to achieve. It requires professional machinery and equipment and professional technicians to perform professional operations.

Similarly, the benefits of real freeze-drying and good freeze-drying cannot be replaced by other foods. If you are willing to give your cats and dogs good freeze-dried food, you must carefully choose high-quality products.

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