Spray-Dried Plasma: The Clever Trick Pet Food Makers Use to Make Canned Food "Chewy"

Canned Pet Food ComponentsSpray-dried plasma (SDP) is very commonly used by pet food manufacturers as a binder in wet foods. SDP has higher gelling, water retention and emulsion properties than other binders.

More recently, pet food manufacturers have recognized that SDP also has the capacity to absorb quality differences from one batch of meat by-products raw material to the next.

According to PetFoodIndustry.com:

The animal by-products suppliers should consider the recommendation of using SDP in wet petfood recipes to avoid daily natural variations in their ingredient raw materials and also to avoid differences in product performance between fresh and frozen meat ingredients for wet petfood. Petfood producers should also consider the addition of a binder like SDP that could be regarded as a "safety belt" to warranty similar quality of their canned petfood on a regular basis.

Dr. Becker's Comments:

Hmm …

My first reaction to the idea that spray-dried plasma can 'absorb quality differences' in the raw ingredients used in canned pet food isn't a happy one.

Let's take a look at the study discussed in the above article.

Comparing Carcasses

The study used two different quality poultry carcasses from a supplier in Spain.

One was considered a high to medium quality carcass (called the CH carcass) and the other was considered medium to low quality (CL). The higher quality carcass (CH) had better texture and more moisture than the lower quality carcass (CL).

Both quality carcasses were used to make three batches of ingredients:

  • A control batch with no binder
  • Batch with spray-dried plasma as the binder
  • Batch with wheat gluten as the binder

As it's fairly easy to see from this chart, the spray-dried plasma binder (AP820 in the chart) improved the texture profile analysis (TPA) of both quality carcasses. The improvement was dramatic for certain measures, for example, chewiness.

Not only that, the spray-dried binder also appears to have brought the TPA scores of the lower quality carcass (CL) into very close alignment with the TPA scores of the better quality carcass (CH).

So what is Spray-Dried Plasma, Exactly?

According to the European Protein Animal Association:

"… spray dried plasma and blood derivatives come from healthy animals that have passed veterinary inspection."

"Apart from that, they are heat-treated products derived from multiple animal donors and this means that extensive dilution has taken place. Then a proven heat-treatment with two main effects, heat inactivation and drying, has been applied to the blood derivatives to inactivate pathogen microorganism (viruses and bacteria). Therefore it is safe."

According to a study published in the Animal Feed Science and Technology journal, spray-dried animal plasma (SDAP) "… is a concentrate of proteins with the property of producing a very stable and compact gel when submitted to high temperatures."

The study concluded that spray-dried animal plasma can replace other binders or gelling agents at the same cost, and help "… in the reduction of exudation from the meat block and maintaining or increasing the texture of the final canned petfood."

The study went on to say cats, in particular, preferred the taste of canned food with SDP to food containing wheat gluten as a binder.

A pet food company using porcine plasma in their formulas says this about it:

" … animal plasma is a highly palatable food (spray dried blood with red cells removed) composed of high levels of important albumin and globulin proteins."

"… animal plasma is an important natural food ingredient which supplies natural sources of iron, sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, numerous vitamins, and over 18 amino acids. These nutrients found naturally in animal blood plasma play a huge role in creating a safer and more natural diet and help decrease the need for adding potentially toxic chemically synthesized supplements coming predominantly from China."

My Thoughts on Spray-Dried Plasma in Canned Pet Food

On the one hand, SDP or SDAP is probably more biologically appropriate for dogs and cats than other types of binders and gelling agents made from wheat gluten or other starches.

It is spray-dried plasma derived from animal blood, and carnivores in the wild routinely consume the blood of prey animals. I imagine worst case, SDP has no or neutral nutritional value when added to canned pet food.

What I don't recommend, though, is feeding your dog or kitty a brand of canned pet food containing poor-quality raw ingredients.

What hopefully caught your eye about the Petfoodindustry.com article was the term 'meat by-products.'

As I often discuss in my videos and write about in my newsletter, I highly recommend you bypass any pet food formula that lists non-specific meat as an ingredient, as well as any formula containing by-products.

Meat by-products, especially those not specified as a certain kind of meat (chicken, beef, turkey, etc.) frequently contain dicey ingredients ground into the mix during processing like beaks, feathers, feet, hooves, hair, entrails – even tumors. So even if a spray-dried plasma binder improves the texture of that garbage and makes it more palatable, do you really want to feed it to your beloved pet?

Of course you don't.

Your goal should be to feed your canine or feline companion a high quality, species-appropriate diet that doesn't require or include an additive like spray-dried plasma.

+ Sources and References