We place special emphasis on minimizing the processing associated with the preparation of our food. Most traditional dog foods are produced in factories where the manufacturing process involves very high temperatures, sometimes reaching 392 degrees Fahrenheit3. These types of high temperature conditions during the processing of pet food can reduce the bioavailability of essential amino acids such as lysine and can result in the production of a group of compounds known as Maillard reaction products or MRPs. Some of the MRPs that have been identified in traditionally manufactured pet foods include: fructoselysine, carboxymethyllysine and hydroxymethylfurfural.
A study published in 2014 in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry evaluated sixty-seven extruded, canned, and pelleted dog and cat foods. The university-based researchers found that canned pet foods contained on average the most fructoselysine, carboxymethyllysine and hydroxymethyfurfural, followed by pelleted and extruded foods. They found that the average daily intake of hydroxymethylfurfural was 122 times higher for dogs and 38 times higher for cats than average intake for adult humans. There is growing evidence in people that consumption of hydroxymethylfurfural has been shown in vivo to be converted into 5-sulfoxymethylfurfural which is considered to be a genotoxic (ability to cause mutations in cells that may lead to the development of cancer) compound in humans. While less is known in veterinary medicine about the genotoxic or carcinogenic potential of hydroxymethylfurfural in dogs, it seems prudent minimize or eliminate this neo-formed contaminant that may prove to be very dangerous. Carboxymethyllysine is also known as an Advanced Glycation End Product (AGE) or glycotoxin. AGEs are an end product of the Maillard reaction and are known to cause oxidative stress and aging changes in humans. It is thought that AGEs are a factor in the aging process and in the development/progression of diseases such as diabetes mellitus, kidney disease, atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease in people.
Another group of worrisome compounds that can be produced under high heat conditions (275-392 degrees Fahrenheit) are heterocyclic amines which are formed from amino acids and creatine found in meat. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Service labeled several heterocyclic amines as likely carcinogens in its 13th Report on Carcinogens. A 2003 study conducted at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory evaluated 25 commercial pet foods for mutagenic activity using a standard test. The researchers found that 24 of the 25 products gave a positive mutagenic response. 14 of the samples were analyzed for heterocyclic amine mutagens/carcinogens and all but one contained 2-amino-3,8-dimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoxaline (MeIQx) and 10 of 14 contained 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP). Based on these results, the researchers hypothesized that there is a connection between dietary heterocyclic amines and cancer in animals consuming these foods. At Humankind®, we have developed a proprietary cooking process where we prepare the food at approximately 170 degrees Fahrenheit. This gentler process should significantly reduce the creation of neo-formed contaminants such as MRPs, AGEs and heterocyclic amines which have been shown in people to have potentially serious health effects.
 Quantitation of Maillard reaction products in commercially available pet foods, van Rooijen C1, Bosch G, van der Poel AF, Wierenga PA, Alexander L, Hendriks WH., J Agric Food Chem. 2014 Sep 3;62(35):888391, doi: 10.1021/jf502064h. Epub 2014 Aug 20.
 13th Report on Carcinogens. "Substances Listed in the Thirteenth Report on Carcinogens" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-05-08.