Is Champion Earning Our Trust?

April 2019 – Inaugural Council Meeting

By April Scott, Pet Lover

Champion may have the distinction of being one of the most awarded pet food company in the business, but even so it’s really important to be transparent and there is no better way to do this than inviting outsiders like myself to see everything up close. Our role as Council members is to verify what Champion claims about their food to be true as they work to earn the trust of Pet Lovers around the globe.

After touring Champion’s DogStar Kitchen, here’s what I think every pet owner should know. First, the pet food recipes and company follow a common mission: BAFRINO – which stands for Biologically Appropriate Fresh Regional Ingredients Never Outsourced. After receiving a detailed explanation of this approach, I can honestly say I understand how our pets can thrive on this food. The ingredients speak for themselves. If you look closely at the ingredient list on any Champion package it is evident that real fresh and/or raw meat leads the ingredient list. I’m impressed with their WholePrey recipe that uses the whole animal including muscle, organ meats, edible bones, and cartilage. No by-products or fillers and most importantly, no ingredient splitting.

Andrea Coffman, the other pet lover member of the Transparency Council, and I discuss ingredients and labeling during our tour of Champion’s DogStar Kitchen.

What is ingredient splitting? This is a deceptive practice of subdividing a more abundant yet inferior quality ingredient into smaller portions. This questionable ploy is often used to artificially raise a meat item to a higher position on the ingredients list and lower a substandard inferior one.

Champion recipes in effect mimic exactly what our furry friends would be consuming if they were foraging and hunting food in the wild themselves. Diets that are comprised of significant amounts of fresh/raw meat, poultry, fish, as well as an appropriate amount of fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

As a caring pet owner, a few key things are essential when I look at the ingredient list on the back of any pet food and what resides in these tiny pieces of kibble, but how do we genuinely know what’s in them?

Touring the DogStar Kitchen you really gain an appreciation for all that goes into making kibble – especially when it’s still warm from the oven!

Having Champion open their home to me was an eye-opening experience. They have faithfully put a lot of thought and consideration into their recipes and their manufacturing process. The fact that they know each supplier and work with them to ensure that the farm animals and fish are being treated humanely and ethically is very important to me.

The food they make for our furry friends is cooked low and slow, meaning it is cooked at low temperatures. This process does not produce the same volume of food daily as other pet food companies that cook their food fast and at high temperatures. This maintains the nutritional integrity of the ingredients Champion uses, resulting in lower requirements for synthetic supplementation.

We observed Champion making freeze-dried foods for its Orijen line. They feature 90% meat ingredients, providing the benefits of raw food that utilizes whole prey ingredients. These are prepared using state of the art technology that allows for fresh ingredients to be flash-frozen using nitrogen, a process that gently removes water without compromising the nutritional value of the food or its taste.

Dennis McDonald from McDonald Farm & Fisheries, one of Champion’s regional fish suppliers, took us out on Kentucky Lake to see how they catch and select fresh catfish for one of their Acana formulas.

ALL the ingredients that Champion uses are provided by farmers and fisheries that Champion knows and trusts.

I was impressed by the DogStar Kitchen – a state of the art and award-winning facility that won the Global foods Safety Institute award, the very first ever given for food safety. This award was open to both pet food and human food kitchens. It is rather impressive to top human food facilities. For me the award reflects Champion’s commitment to a rigorous and credible food safety management system. Champion handles all aspects of food preparation in their own kitchen, and yes, they do have third-party testing.

Through this large window, you can see us inside DogStar’s “WINK” hub. “WINK” – the Window INto the Kitchen – is this super high-tech food making & safety monitoring system.

Of special note, Champion spent millions of dollars on their new food research facility with twenty specialists who research ingredients and always strive to improve their biologically appropriate diets. Knowing that cost is not the first consideration in the formulation of their different recipes, made me feel more confident feeding their foods to my pet. I think this is because the staff there truly love pets and want the best food to be available for dogs and cats throughout the world.

About April Scott

April Scott is an avid Pet Lover from Ontario, Canada. Having had a puppy with unknown food sensitivities, April devoted herself to researching and better understanding the connection between quality food ingredients and her dog’s better health and wellbeing.

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