E numbers are often present on dog food labels as well as on labels of our own food. These numbers are codes for food additives that are approved for use by in the European Union. Nowadays you can also find these in other jurisdictions such as, amongst others, Australia and New Zealand. Usage in the US and Canada is still rare, though it’s increasing.
Dog food has to do more than just kill your dog’s hunger and provide nutrients to be nutritious to your pooch. It has to look good, smell good and taste good. And when you open the dog food bag today… it has to retain these qualities for some time to go.
What do you think about food that has a range of E numbers on the label?
Wait fellows allow me to shed some light on the myths of E numbers.
Myth #1: E numbered compounds are toxic for your dog
All compounds can be toxic when you ingest too much; even water can kill you or your dog for that matter. Too much of anything is no good. So an E numbered compound is toxic, just like any other compound, when the concentration is too high. The dosage at which the compound becomes toxic can differ from one species to another.
Let me list a few examples and please note I’m not trying to promote E numbers, I’m merely trying to explain why you don’t have to be afraid of them too much. These compounds are both used in dog food as well as in human food.
- E101 = vitamin B2, used to make the dog food more yellow
- E140 = chlorophyll, which is just the stuff in plants that make them appear green
- E172 = iron oxide, used to make the dog food more reddish
Myth #2: E numbered compounds are chemicals and therefore bad for your dog’s health
Well, what is a chemical? Everything around us consists of molecules that consist of atoms. All organic compounds on earth have C-atoms; such as carbohydrates, fats and amino acids. As these are created in plants and animals we tend to call these natural compounds. And what’s natural is good for your health, right? Wrong! How do venomous spiders and snakes kill? What about the box jellyfish or the more friendly bee poison?
To say that what’s natural is good and what’s chemically synthesized is not is a too simple view. Most vitamin C used in food and supplements is chemically synthesized.
Also did you know that common fresh fruits contain natural toxins? Apple and pear seeds contain amygdalin that can be converted to the deadly hydrogen cyanide. But don’t worry; an accidental swallowing of an occasional seed won’t hurt you a bit (look at myth number 1). But when you have a habit of eating a lot of them if may cause illness. Other healthy stuff that contains toxins are kumura (sweet potato), parsnips, rhubarb and kidney beans. These toxins act as a natural pesticide to ward off insect attacks or protect the plant against microbes.
As always the world is not black and white. Not all chemicals are hazardous and not all hazardous compounds are chemicals. And the dosage and the individual sensitivity determines whether an individual will experience adverse reactions.
The dosage of E numbers used in dog food is regulated so they will not occur at potentially hazardous levels.37