Primal Beef Formula Nuggets are manufactured by Primal Pet Food Incorporated. The company was founded by Matt Koss after finding that his dog, Luna, had an improved appetite and energy when she started eating a raw diet. Primal Pet Food Incorporated products are manufactured in the United States. The product line includes chews, treats, meal toppers, and complete meals made with raw ingredients.

Food Storage and Preparation

The Beef Formula Nuggets are freeze-dried and can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to 18 months after production. To prepare a meal, the nuggets are mixed with water and left to soak. Hydrated nuggets can be refrigerated for up to 5 days before feeding. Because Primal Beef Formula Nuggets contain raw meat, proper hygiene must be observed when preparing and serving. It is best to serve in a stainless steel bowl which can be easily sanitized after use. All surfaces that come into contact with the product must be properly disinfected using hot, soapy water. Primal Pet Foods Inc. offers tips for meal preparation and clean-up on their website.

Ingredients

Primal Beef Formula Nuggets are made with beef offal, organic produce, and supplements. 

The beef ingredients are sourced from the United States and New Zealand and come from cattle that are raised without the use of antibiotics or hormones. These animals are raised to the ethical standards outlined by Primal Pet Food Incorporated. This includes the requirement for grass to be fed as much as possible and for cattle to have access to the outdoors.

Protein

The main source of protein in this recipe is beef. The beef cuts used are the heart and the liver. Beef is a high-quality protein for dogs, but it’s also a common allergen. The manufacturer uses only antibiotic-free meat, which is becoming popular in the human and pet sectors. Research does not yet suggest that there are any differences in the nutrition profiles or the bacterial load between meat that has been raised with antibiotics compared to those that have not. 

The manufacturer also uses beef raised without the use of hormones. In the U.S., hormones are sometimes used in livestock production as a growth promoter. The use of hormones for livestock follows guidelines set out by the Committee of Veterinary Drugs, The World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives, and the FDA. These organizations also approve acceptable daily intake levels for hormone residues in meat and meat products. The consumption of beef raised without hormones will not make a difference to the nutritional profile of the food, and there is no evidence that it is a danger to our pets.

Fat

The diet’s main fat source is fish oils. Fish oils are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. This essential fatty acid has been linked to disease prevention in many species. In dogs, fish oil supplementation in the diet was associated with more comfortable weight-bearing in osteoarthritic dogs. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been suggested to have a role in improving the immune function of senior dogs. Other main sources of fat in the food include beef, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds.

Carbohydrates

This diet is described as ‘grain-free.’  It’s worth noting that dogs can digest grains, the only reason a grain-free diet would be required for your dog is in the presence of an adverse food reaction to all grains. Plant-based food reactions are rare in dogs, and it is unlikely that your dog will be allergic to all grains. 

Fruits and Vegetables

Whole vegetables provide a great source of dietary fiber. This fiber promotes gut health and is a helpful addition to your dog’s diet. The main fruits and vegetables included are carrots, squash, kale, apples, and broccoli.

This diet is made without lentils and legumes. These are currently being investigated as a potential link in what appears to be nutritionally-induced dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. A definitive association between DCM and these ingredients has not yet been found but there is ongoing research in this area. True adverse food reactions to either lentils or legumes are also uncommon in dogs.

Primal Pet Foods also draws attention to the fact their diet is made without soy. Soy is a legume that can be a very healthful ingredient with a good mix of amino acids. Except in rare cases of allergy, there’s no evidence that removing soy from a diet makes a diet healthier. The ultimate quality of a diet cannot be determined by the absence or presence of one ingredient alone!

Other ingredients

The Vitamin E and Zinc sulfate supplements in this blend come from sunflower seed oil and fermented dried yeast, respectively. An alfalfa supplement and kelp supplements have also been added. These are likely to act as a source of fiber to help maintain gut health. One other ingredient you may not recognize is montmorillonite clay. This is a natural powder that absorbs water, so it’s likely to be added as an anti-caking agent or to help prevent diarrhea.

Health Benefits

Firstly, it’s important to note that Primal Beef Formula Nuggets are formulated to AAFCO guidelines for all life stages. This means that the beef nuggets have been formulated to meet the nutritional requirements of adulthood, pregnancy, and growth. This also includes suitability for large-breed puppies (puppies that will have an adult body size of 70 lbs or more). This food provides all the nutrients your dog will need at any age. However, this also means that it will not be tailored to closely match the specific needs of certain dogs. For example, some minerals may be provided in excess of what an adult dog would need.

Primal Beef Formula Nuggets are formulated according to AAFCO guidelines, and they also claim to have completed an all life stages feeding trial in 2012. 

“Natural”

According to AAFCO, a ‘natural’ ingredient is a product that is unprocessed or undergoes processing without the use of synthetic chemicals. ‘Natural’ ingredients will not necessarily be of better quality or contain more nutrients. In the case of Primal Beef Formula Nuggets, ingredients are added to the food in an unprocessed state before freeze-drying. 

Quality Control

One concern when it comes to raw feeding is the presence of bacterial contamination, so systems should be in place to manage this risk. The facilities of Primal Pet Food incorporated adhere to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and the manufacturing process has a Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP) program in place.

Ingredients are sourced from USDA-inspected facilities and/or facilities regulated by the FDA.

Every batch of finished product is laboratory-tested by a third party to confirm that common foodborne pathogens are not present. Only when the batch of food is confirmed to be negative for Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7 and Listeria is it released for shipment.

Organic

The fruits and vegetables used in Primal Beef Formula Nuggets are organic. This means that they were grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and are not genetically modified. They must also meet the specifications of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Organic Program (NOP). There are no known benefits for the use of organic produce in pet food versus regular produce. They will not necessarily be healthier or safer for your dog and are likely to cost more as organic crops tend to have lower yields. However, this does show that Primal Pet Foods has high standards for their ingredients.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Good quality control measures are in place to reduce the burden of foodborne bacteria you would normally find in raw meat products
  • Freeze-drying allows the raw product to be kept fresh without refrigeration
  • The diet meets the guidelines of the AAFCO

Cons

  • Unclear of formulation by a Ph.D. nutritionist or a board-certified veterinary nutritionist
  • Diet is formulated for all life stages and will not be tailored to meet the specific needs of a growing animal or adult animal
  • Diet contains raw meat so special care must be taken when serving and cleaning up meals

Information as of 3/31/22