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The Quality of FirstMate Pet Food Reflects the Care We Take to Source Out the Best Ingredients


June 18, 2020

Not all pet foods are created equal. Even though formulas and ingredient lists may be identical, there is wide variation in the quality of the ingredients used. One of the most important ingredients in a quality pet food is, of course, the protein source. Since fish are such an important part of the FirstMate story, let’s use fish as an example of how we source the best quality proteins for our products.

In our FirstMate and KASIKS dry formulas, we use concentrated protein meals in which most of the moisture and some of the fat has been removed. Our ocean fish meals use a combination of wild-caught herring, anchovies, and sardines primarily caught in the Pacific Ocean off the shores of the Pacific Northwest. The fish meals we use are 70% protein, which provides an excellent source of meat-based protein for pet foods. These fish feed on plankton, which makes them a rich source of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids but low in contaminants such as mercury.

The history of FirstMate is based on aquaculture and this is reflected in an exceptional depth of experience in sourcing and purchasing fish products.  The founding company, Taplow Ventures Ltd, manufactured fish feed for aquaculture. Farm operators noticed that their dogs would eat the fish feed and end up with wonderful shiny coats. In response to requests from the farm owners to make a pet food, FirstMate was born and the first product was based on the high-quality fish meal being used for the aquaculture feed.

It is important to know that not all fish meals are created equal. A fish meal based on catfish, for example, can be relatively cheap and provide poor nutritional value. This is because catfish contains less fat and subsequently lower levels of healthy fatty acids such as omega 3, omega 6, DHA, and EPA. Some fish meals may contain just heads and frames, making it inferior to a fish meal made from whole fish, as used in FirstMate products. A pelagic or ocean fish meal suitable for aquaculture is of much higher nutritional value and is therefore much more expensive. Although unnecessary for pets, FirstMate uses the same high-value meal that is used in our proven aquaculture feed.

Our cannery produces fish formulas using wild-caught Coho salmon from sustainable Alaskan fisheries and tuna from sustainable fisheries in the Pacific Northwest; both of these fish sources are the same used for human consumption. The Alaskan Coho salmon is MSC Certified as a sustainable seafood choice, ensuring that this ingredient is not only a source of healthy fats and antioxidants but is also a good choice for the environment. 

There are many health benefits to consuming fish products, and by sourcing and using the best quality ingredients, FirstMate maximizes the nutritional value available to pets. 

6 responses to “The Quality of FirstMate Pet Food Reflects the Care We Take to Source Out the Best Ingredients”

  1. Nan DiMarco says:

    Good afternoon,

    Our Vet has suggested we switch our Cairn terrier to a grain inclusive diet.
    I am thinking of giving her your fish recipe to try.
    Can you answer the following , before I make my decision.

    1. Do you employ a board certified Veterinary Nutritionist ?
    2.Is a contract manufacturer used to manufacture YOUR dog food ?
    3.What percent of the manufacturing plants used to manufacture your pet foods is owned by the manufacture ?
    Thank you and hope to hear from you soon.

  2. Wendy Vandersteen says:

    Hello Nan, thank you for your interest in our FirstMate pet food for your Cairn terrier. We appreciate you reaching out to us with your questions.

    Our Executive Vice-President is a veterinarian with over 20 years of experience in pet nutrition, and he oversees all of our pet food formulations.

    We manufacture all of our own pet food. Our dry products are manufactured in our Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) inspected and organically certified facility located in Chilliwack, British Columbia. Our canned products are produced in our CFIA inspected, organically certified, human grade cannery located in Port Kells, British Columbia.

    I hope this helps to address your concerns.

    Sincerely,
    Wendy

    Wendy Vandersteen, PhD
    Manager of Research and Development

  3. Margie Coates says:

    I’ve had issues with lumps and tumors in my Rhodesian Ridgebacks. I’ve read that this may be due to GMOs and toxins in their food. It could also be from toxins in water. Are your ingredients GMO free? Thank you

  4. Wendy Vandersteen says:

    Hello Margie,

    Pet health and safety is our top priority when sourcing ingredients for our formulas.

    FirstMate does not use GMO ingredients, but it is important to provide additional context to this question. Close to 80% of the world’s corn and soy are GMO and this is the primary feed for farm animals. Considering that such a large percentage of the feed ingredients for these animals is GMO, it would be very difficult for any company to guarantee that their products are 100% GMO free and that their ingredients have not been exposed to GMO ingredients during their entire life. Rather than simply making the GMO Free claim we aim to ensure our customers are aware of this deeper question. This would differ of course for those protein sources that are not farmed, specifically our fish protein.

    We also want to point out that we do conduct regular testing on our ingredients and finished products for salmonella, enterobacteriacea, total coliform, E.Coli, clostridium perfringens, and pesticides. We routinely test for heavy metals and for mycotoxins including vomitoxin and aflatoxin.

    I hope this helps to address your concerns.

    Sincerely,
    Wendy

    Wendy Vandersteen, PhD
    Manager of Research and Development

  5. Jerry McClintick says:

    Hi. I’ve learned how incredibly difficult it is to find a dog food that you can trust to source their ingredients responsibly and provide a SAFE product. I can count the manufacturers I trust on one hand. That’s first and foremost to me. Can you tell me where you source your ingredients from? Are any of your ingredients sourced from China? Do you make it a point to know where your suppliers source their ingredients from? What else can you tell me about the safety of your food?

    • Matt Wilson says:

      Hello Jerry,

      Pet health and safety are our top priority when sourcing ingredients for our formulas.

      In our dry formulas, we use concentrated protein meals in which most of the moisture and some of the fat have been removed.  Our Pacific Ocean Fish formulas use a combination of wild caught herring, anchovies and sardines. Our Pacific Ocean Fish Meal comes from fish caught in the Pacific Ocean off of our own shores.  On occasion, due to the seasonal nature of the fisheries and product availability, we do source some of our fish meal from Peruvian and Mexican shores.  Our Free Range Lamb formula uses free range lamb from Australia.  This lamb is grass fed without added hormones or antibiotics and is the same lamb as is used for human consumption.  Our Cage Free Chicken formula uses humanely raised chickens from North America and our Cage Free Duck meal is sourced from France.

      The cage free chicken and cage free turkey used in our canned products comes from poultry sourced locally in British Columbia.   This is the same chicken and turkey that is used for human consumption. The salmon that we use in our canned formulas is wild caught Coho salmon from sustainable Alaskan fisheries.  Our tuna also comes from sustainable fisheries in the Pacific Northwest.  The tuna is line caught and you may be happy to know that it is dolphin friendly.  These are the same fish that are used for human consumption.

      The potato used in our products comes primarily from Idaho.  Our oats are sourced from the Canadian Prairies, and our rice comes from California.

      Our vitamins and minerals are sourced primarily from North America, Germany, and France.

      Thanks,

      Wendy Vandersteen, PhD
      Manager of Research and Development

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