If there is an ingredient in pet food today that seems to get an immediate negative reaction- it has to be corn. Ever wonder why that is? When I was growing up nobody ever said, “oh honey you better ask your Mom before you eat that” when I reached for an ear of corn on the cob!
Let’s examine the truths and myths about corn and give you a clearer picture of when and if corn is acceptable for your pets.
Corn is the most genetically modified food there is. To transform a plant into a GMO plant, the gene that produces a genetic trait of interest is identified and separated from the rest of the genetic material from a donor organism. If you need a better understanding of GMO’s reference a post we did https://happytailsfromhusse.com/2015/11/25/genetically-engineered-food-and-our-pets/
Corn has many variations of modification. In the US we have “Roundup Ready Corn”, “Liberty Link Corn” and “BT Corn”. All of these are approved in the US by the FDA, but many people avoid eating GMO crops. If you feed you pet food produced in the United States and it is not certified GMO Free or Organic it is almost certain it contains Genetically Modified ingredients, and if it contains corn it is most certainly GMO corn.
Crops in the US are commonly treated with Glyphosate as a pesticide. This is a chemical that has been banned in many countries around the world. The World Health Organization has stated it is “probably carcinogenic to humans”.
If you do not feed a GMO free or Organic pet food, then choose one that does not contain corn (or other grains grown in the US).
CORN AS A FILLER
Corn is cheap. Many lower cost food producers will use corn as a primary ingredient as a lower cost alternative to high quality animal protein. Corn is not a protein. A balanced diet for a dog or cat (just like humans) means having a portion of your diet protein and carbs. Dogs and cats need the primary ingredient in their diet to be high quality protein. Protein with the highest biologic value (this is the scale that identifies the nutritional value of protein) will be protein derived from animal meat (chicken, fish etc.). While there is some protein in corn or wheat it is not enough or the quality of protein you would look to as a primary source.
Assuming you feed a GMO free or Organic pet food then you still want corn to be added to the food in a reasonable portion. It should not be the first ingredient. While all pet foods will disclose the percentage of protein the food contains, not all foods will disclose the percentage of that protein that is derived from animal protein (Husse does disclose this). This is an excellent way to understand where the protein in the food is coming from.
CORN CAUSES ALLERGIES
There is no real evidence that corn is more likely to provoke allergic reaction than other carbohydrates such as wheat, rice or potatoes. All these carbs must be cooked to become digestible for animals. Again, many people and animals report having allergic reactions to pesticides or GMO crops, so all these carbs need to be identified as certified GMO free or Organic.
So, to answer “Is corn bad?”. Simple answer is no…BUT unfortunately the quality of the corn in the U.S. is not the greatest. Maybe today I would get permission from my Mom before eating that corn on the cob! Additionally, pet food companies have mis-used this ingredient because it is cheap. If the corn is high quality and used in an appropriate portion it is an acceptable carbohydrate.