Why Does Cat Food Contain Agar-Agar?
Although agar-agar may not immediately bring to mind whole foods like turkey or sweet potatoes, it serves a good purpose in your cat’s diet. As devoted cat owners, we make an effort to keep toxic or superfluous fillers out of the diet. To assist you in making an informed decision about this food ingredient, we will cover the history, use, and safety of agar-agar in cat food in this article.
Red algae of the Gelidium and Gracilaria species are grown in commercial settings to make agar-agar. These species’ cell walls yield agar-agar, which is made of the two polysaccharides agarose and agaropectin. The strong gelling capabilities are provided by agarose. Gracilaria needs an alkaline pretreatment to get rid of sulfates and boost its gel-forming capacity.
Globally, this colloidal polysaccharide is utilized in human and pet food as a gelling agent, stabilizer, and thickening. Agar-agar is deemed safe for consumption as a food additive by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other food regulatory organizations across the world. Additionally, it has uses in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and research.
You have probably eaten agar-agar in some form, whether you are a steak lover or a vegan. Since its discovery in Japan in the 17th century, agar-agar has been utilized for its gelling abilities. In jellies, puddings, cream cheese, yogurt, pie fillings, soft candies, baked goods, and canned meat items, this flavorless and odorless addition is frequently employed. Agar-agar is used in place of animal-derived gelatins since it is vegan, gluten-free, halal, and kosher.
Where Is Agar-Agar Produced?
While Gracilaria, the ideal plant for food-grade agar-agar, is commercially grown in South America, Indonesia, China, the Philippines, and Vietnam, Gelidium is harvested in Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Japan, and Mexico.
In order to make agar, red algae is picked in the summer and then dried, bleached, and cooked. Before packaging, the agar goes through one more round of processing. There are four different types of food-grade agar-agar: strips, bars, flakes, and powders. Although agar-agar is thought to be natural, the Gracilaria species’ alkalinizing pretreatment formally defines it as manufactured.
Human Health Claims
Agar-agar is frequently ingested in powdered form and combined with hot tea or water. It has been promoted as a healthy supplement. This “Kanten diet” is supposed to aid in weight loss in Japan by causing satiety when it bulks up after consumption. It is also used as a laxative, albeit if taken without enough water, it might block the esophagus and bowels.
None of these health claims have been validated by research in the field. A veterinarian can offer a number of safe and natural solutions for constipated cats. There are anecdotal stories of owners effectively administering small doses of agar-agar with water to their cats as a laxative, but these advantages are not verified.
Food for cats with agar-agar
Agar-agar creates a desired gel consistency in canned cat foods, and it’s far less typical to find in brands of dry cat food. Neither negative consequences nor health advantages have been established. Given the anecdotal influence in people, owners might avoid this component for underweight cats or those with easily clogged stools, although there is no proof cats suffer faster satiety. Following consumption of agar-agar in cat chow, bowel blockage in cats has also not been documented.
There is debate over the safety of the food additive carrageenan, which is made from the red seaweed known as Irish moss. Carrageenan and agar-agar are occasionally confused by customers.
Agar-agar is a safe food additive that is used in a variety of products around the world, including canned cat food. Although it is commercially processed, there have been no pet food recalls related to agar-agar, and there are no documented negative effects. Furthermore, no definite health advantages exist. Agar-agar produces a palatable consistency in wet cat foods and replaces non-vegan gelatins.