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  • Hahnbee Choi, Cert. CN

What's Really In The Bag: Iams

Updated: Jul 5, 2022

The "What's Really In The Bag" series is in no way, shape, or form meant to bash any brand or owner if they feed the food being analyzed. This is empowering you with the information needed to make the best decision for you and your pets! While a fresh food diet is always favorable, it is understandable that not everyone can feed 100% raw. But by knowing what you are feeding and continuously doing better, you are taking active steps in the right direction.

The food under analysis is Iams Proactive Health Minichunks with Chicken & Whole Grain Recipe Adult Dry Dog Food. The first 5 ingredients on the label will be featured below.


Chicken, Ground Whole Grain Corn, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Chicken By-Product Meal, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed, Dried Egg Product, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Caramel Color, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Ascorbic Acid, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate (source of Vitamin B1), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement (source of Vitamin B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (source of Vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Potassium Iodide), Potassium Chloride, Carrot, Choline Chloride, Fructooligosaccharides, Calcium Carbonate, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Rosemary Extract.

[1] Chicken

Ingredients show on the ingredient label based on water weight. Since chicken is around 73% water weight, it will become a tiny fraction once processed. There is no specific information on where Iam's sources their chicken. Chicken is the most common food allergen due to the poor quality of conventionally raised chicken. The poor quality diet the chicken is fed transfers to the poor quality of the meat.

[2] Ground Whole Grain Corn

Corn is a cheap cereal grain commonly added as an inexpensive ingredinet. Corn is a prevalent allergen, along with rice, soy, and wheat. Corn is a plant-based protein source, while canines are facultative carnivores and thrive when consuming primarily animal protein sources. Companies like to state that corn does not cause allergies and is easily digestible. Not only does corn have a low biological value, but it is also a haven for contaminants such as mycotoxins (toxic mold), mites, and dust. Iams claims that their blend of carbohydrates allows for "stable blood glucose" needed for energy. Whole grain is not easily digestible. For it to be somewhat absorbable, it will need to be ground up and processed. While this will lead to some nutrient absorption, it will also, in turn, increase the glycemic index making corn (and other cereal grains) an inappropriate source of calories and energy. It is also stated that corn is a "rich source" of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. For this, we will be using the USDA’s National Nutrient Database and a Completion Score, which measures how complete a food is, and the lower the number, the fewer nutrients it contains. Corn scores a roaring 34.

[3] Ground Whole Grain Sorghum

Sorghum is another major cereal grain that has a similar nutrient profile to corn. Iams states that their sorghum "also called milo, is cracked, finely ground, and cooked before it is added to our dry dog foods." Sorghum contains anti-nutrients such as "tannin, cyanogenic glucoside, phytic acid, trypsin inhibitor, and oxalate" [1,2] Due to this, it is associated with low protein digestibility and mineral absorption. While processing conditions can increase the bioavailability of nutrients, such as soaking or sprouting, sorghum is generally categorized as a low nutritional food.

[4] Chicken By-Product Meal

Animal by-products are left of a slaughtered animal after all the parts intended for human consumption are removed. These parts usually included heads, back, feet, liver, kidneys, brain, etc. All parts of the animal that raw feeders are familiar with. Animal by-products tend to be highly controversial since there are benefits to them as they do contain beneficial organs that raw feeders feed. But the problem with the kibble industry is quality. The big problem with animal by-products is that they are mishandled and unsanitary after they are slaughtered. Raw feeders know that it should go directly in the refrigerator or freezer when you're not using meat to prevent spoilage. But unfortunately, in the pet food industry, it tends to sit out in unsanitary trailers, and even if they have gone bad, they are still deemed acceptable to the pet food industry. In addition, dead on arrival animals or 4D (dead, dying, diseased, down) animals are deemed unacceptable for human consumption but are deemed acceptable in the pet food industry.

[5] Dried Plain Beet Pulp

Beet pulp is a controversial ingredient as some deem it beneficial due to its high fiber content. But when used in high amounts, it has low nutritional benefits as it is plant-based and, in the end, is a cheap filler ingredient.

Other Ingredients

  • Flaxseed: A good source of plant omega-3s (Alpha-Linoleic Acid - ALA) but must be grounded for proper absorption.

  • Dried Egg Product: Egg is a fantastic biologically available source of nutrients, but it is seen quite far down the ingredients list.

  • Caramel Color: This color is created by caramelizing carbohydrates to give the food a caramel/brown uniform finish. There have been cases where this has caused cancer in laboratory animals. This is considered "safe" by the FDA, but it is best to avoid any food with coloring agents added. The only reason this is added is for the human aesthetic and contributes nothing to the nutrients.

  • Synthetic Vitamins & Minerals: While synthetics have their place, a food's main source of nutrients should not come from synthetics. They also do not appear to be chelated, which allows for better absorption Non-chelated synthetics can be harder to absorb.

Again, we have another food high in filler carbohydrates and lacks quality animal-based proteins. While Iams may have a large budget for marketing and packaging, the money would best be spent improving the quality of the ingredients.

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