Food for thought

Food for thought

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You may not like raw food, but Karen Campbell says your dog does.

Campbell is the President and Co-Owner at Totally Raw Pet Food, which was named the 2019 Small Business of the Year at the Halifax Business Awards.

The business is a small one that’s scaling up with a new state-of-the-art raw food facility in Burnside.

Canadian Tire has recently partnered with Totally Raw and their treats can be found in over 400 Canadian Tire stores across Canada. Totally Raw is also distributed throughout the Maritimes, Quebec, Ontario and are now developing a foothold in Western Canada. Totally Raw is an important employer with over 20 employees.

Campbell says she’s never understood those who question whether raw food is the best nutrition for cats and dogs. Raw food is what cat and dogs evolved eating. Processed food/kibble is a relatively recent invention and raw is what our companion animals have thrived on for thousands of years.

“Raw feeding provides dogs and cats their natural, evolutionary diet. People understand the importance of fresh, unprocessed food in their own diet. It is no different for our pets. Just like people, our pets thrive eating a natural, unprocessed diet,” she said.

Like handling raw meat

Campbell says the company takes the guesswork out of raw feeding for pet owners. “You pop it out of the package, thaw it and feed it — patties are about 80 per cent of our business.”

Totally Raw patties are a balance of meat, bone and organs. “A rabbit, for example, makes up a percentage of meat, bone and organ and we try and recreate that as much as possible. We turn that ratio into a meat patty that looks just like one from the grocery store,” she says.

No one food is perfect. Just like in human nutrition, Campbell says dogs thrive on a variety of foods. Campbell recommends at least three proteins rotated throughout the week.

Campbell says while some owners are initially uncomfortable feeding raw, it is actually quite simple. Handle raw pet food in the same way as raw proteins brought into the household for human consumption. Use common sense cleaning procedures and don’t cross contaminate.

Campbell also says kibble should be handled with the same precautions. Kibble recalls are not uncommon and the same common sense hygiene practices should be used regardless of the type of pet food being fed.

Expansions planned

“The nomination for Small Business of the Year was not expected. Winning was tremendously thrilling. A very special moment. Our whole team was present,” she says.

Totally Raw began in 2003 and currently there are three retail locations, one in Halifax, Dartmouth and another in Moncton. The company is also opening a new store in downtown Halifax, set to open before Dec. 1.

Campbell says by far the biggest development for the company is the new state-of-the-art raw pet food plant located in Burnside. The new facility opening October 2019, will allow for separation of product production. The new wet plant for food production and the Akerley dry plant for dehydration and supplement production.

Campbell says this expansion is a big move for the business and is working with a consultant to achieve Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) status. Once this is achieved, Totally Raw will be the only raw certified pet food facility in the Maritimes.

“One of the problems with the pet food industry as a whole is that it’s self-regulating. We are going above and beyond and voluntarily regulating ourselves to ensure we’re providing the best and safest food possible though HACCP certification,” she says. ν

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