Dr. Billinghurst's BARF DIET
Biologically Appropriate Evolutionary Nutrition
The Question of "Complete and Balanced"
As any knowledgeable BARF feeder is aware,
when feeding pet animals, each meal fed is not required to
be complete and balanced. What is required is that the over-all
diet is complete and balanced. In an evolutionary setting,
nutritional balance has always been achieved over time. The
concept that nutritional balance can be achieved over time
is basic to the evolutionary BARF philosophy. And that concept
is fine for a pet owner who is knowledgeable about BARF and
who is making their own pet food. It is also fine for "BARF
knowledgeable" people who buy pre-prepared BARF pet food
- so long as they know what is in the product[s] they are
But what about pet owners who have no real
knowledge of the BARF programme or philosophy? As the idea
of BARF grows and spreads, we are going to see more and more
BARF pet owners feeding or wishing to feed BARF. Most of these
will be pet owners who are used to buying "complete and
balanced" pet food.
is obviously a major part of the answer, however, there will
always be a significant percentage of people that will fall
through the educational gaps. With this in mind, we questioned
whether we wanted our products to be labeled as"complete
and balanced" or "intended for intermittent or supplemental
feeding only" according to the standards and philosophy
of AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials).
To help answer this question we had to explore the meaning
of the AAFCO concept of "complete and balanced"
as it applies to current grain based commercial pet food.
The claim of "complete and balanced"
means that the pet food company making that claim for any
particular food is stating that when a sample of that particular
product was subjected to a chemical analysis, that sample
was found to contain the currently "known to be essential"
nutrients at the currently recommended levels according to
the currently accepted provisions laid down by AAFCO.
This nutritional state of knowledge - as held
by AAFCO - is in a constant state of flux, so that what was
valid yesterday is not necessarily valid today and tomorrow
will be different again. To put AAFCO's definition of "complete
and balanced" in perspective, it is instructive to understand
what their definition does not mean.
The concept of "complete and balanced"
when applied to commercial pet food, does not mean commercial
pet food contains every nutrient that our pets actually require.
"Complete and Balanced" when applied to commercial
pet food does not mean that a pet food contains all the nutrients
our pets need in perfect balance.
two bits of information are not known. In fact they are unknowable,
and there are at least two reasons for this. Firstly, each
individual has unique nutritional requirements, and secondly,
our knowledge of nutrition - to say the very least - is incomplete.
Also, by specifying what must be included, there is the very
real danger of leaving out - needed nutrients - whose necessity
has not as yet been discovered.
Then there is the question of availability.
"Complete and balanced" does not mean that the nutrients
present in any particular sample of pet food would actually
have been assimilated and used had an animal eaten that sample.
It is well known that many of the nutrients in processed foods
are unavailable to the animal eating the food. Complete and
balanced certainly does not mean the product has been tested
for a lifetime and found to produce perfect health - whatever
perfect health means. In addition, the "complete and
balanced" definition does not include any of the protective
nutrients currently under scrutiny by nutritional researchers
In short, AAFCO's nutritional beliefs, statements,
guidelines, regulations, rules, limits, balances, recommendations
or levels are not ultimate, final, perfect, complete or correct
in any sense of any of those words. They are most certainly
no guarantee that the animal eating a food that complies with
those guidelines will have available to it, every nutrient
it needs in perfect balance for perfect health.
In other words, AAFCO guidelines and recommendations
are almost useless, except that they do provide some sort
of limited comfort, that the animal eating a product that
claims to be regulated by those guidelines will probably not
demonstrate in the short term at least, signs of gross nutritional
deficiency, although there is no absolute guarantee of this
either. Unfortunately, the average pet owner who reads that
the product they are buying is "complete and balanced"
is completely unaware of the almost meaningless nature of
Therefore, Dr. Billinghurst's BARF DIET
will not be referred to as being Complete and Balanced
in any absolute sense. The best that can be said is that Dr.
Billinghurst's BARF DIET is nutritionally sound and
nutritionally adequate. This means - in addition to containing
those nutrients which must be present in processed
pet foods, the Dr. Billinghurst's BARF DIET diet also
contains many other essential nutrients. These are the nutrients
found only in whole raw foods. Furthermore, all of these nutrients
are present in their biologically available form. In other
words, this is a diet that goes well beyond the standards
laid down for modern processed pet foods.
Yes, a momentous paradigm shift, but after
all, that is what we are all about. We are about change, movement
and development. New sources of knowledge, new approaches
to nutrition combined with new aims. Aiming to produce food
that is far more nutritionally complete and balanced and therefore
far healthier than current commercial products.