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Now Fresh is a Canadian company that was established in 2007 as a family operation in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, but there are no further details about its founders or if they are still involved. The company appears to be based in Chilliwack, BC.
Now Fresh comes under the Petcurean umbrella of pet food products that also include GO! SOLUTIONS™ and GATHER™ for dogs and cats. These pet foods are sold in Canada, the United States, and more than 35 countries internationally.
It’s unclear whether the foods are manufactured in-house or by a third party manufacturer.
Now Fresh produces 2 lines of dog food. The dry line has 13 recipes and is considered a high risk dog food. The wet line has 5 recipes and is considered a moderate risk dog food. It scores better due to less processing and lower carbohydrates but there are still other concerns.
The company provides very little transparency about quality or sourcing of ingredients beyond generalizations. In fact, on the Petcurean website there is a 2022 sustainability report as the parent company works toward achieving carbon neutrality. It would be valuable to have in-depth information like this about the Now Fresh’s ingredients, sourcing and manufacturing process.
Now Fresh advocates for minimally processed dog foods but there are no details describing its processing protocol. The website states foods are extruded “at temperatures which are lower than typical baking” but this is a broad statement without any specific details. It’s therefore assumed that the dry foods are an extruded kibble, which is ultra-processed with several stages of heating, leading to a reduction of nutrients and enzymes.
Now Fresh uses gluten-free ingredients but its dry foods still have a high carbohydrate load, averaging more than 37% as calculated, from ingredients that include tapioca, potatoes, peas and sweet potatoes. Dogs have no nutritional requirement for carbohydrates but they are used for energy, texture and taste. Starch is also required for extrusion in dry foods. Excessive carbohydrate is an indicator of food quality as it can be used to reduce manufacturing cost. Foods that are high in carbohydrate can raise insulin and cause obesity. Some studies also show that dogs fed a high carbohydrate content have changes to their gut bacteria.
The company states its proteins are from fresh meats like turkey, salmon and duck, eggs and legumes, and yet amino acids are added to all dry recipes to balance these foods to nutritional standards. The company states that most dogs do well on a diet ranging from 22 to 26% protein, which coincidentally is what their dry foods contain. In contrast, its wet foods have average protein levels of 46% which is more in line with what a wet dog food should have. Average carbohydrates are 14% as calculated on a dry matter basis, which is acceptable for wet dog foods.
The fruits and vegetables used in Now Fresh recipes come from the human food chain. While that’s good to see, the actual amounts used in the recipes appear to be low so synthetic vitamins and minerals are needed to meet AAFCO nutritional standards. When vitamins come from whole food sources, they include the full spectrum of cofactors, which makes them safe and bioavailable. While a couple of added vitamins are acceptable, five or more implies the food is of poor nutritional value.
The Now Fresh website states within dog food descriptions that it believes in fresh, whole foods. However, when looking at all the ingredient lists, they include an extensive list of synthetic additives including glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate for joint health. New Zealand mussels are used as a source of chondroitin and omega-3 fatty acids, however it’s listed 64th, or lower, on several of the recipe ingredient lists. This means it’s present in very small amounts and unlikely to provide much nutritional benefit.
Additionally, Now Fresh includes sodium tripolyphosphate and states it’s to prevent tartar buildup. This is a chemical additive that’s also used in detergents and soaps. Most gel, liquid, tablet and powdered laundry and dishwasher detergents contain STPP. As a food, it is generally regarded as safe by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), but large ingested amounts of the product can be toxic.
Dog food ingredients are listed on the label in order of weight, so starches like potatoes, potato flour, peas and pea fiber are within the top 5 or 6 ingredients. However, the 20 superfoods they promote on the website, namely fruits and vegetables, appear below the added minerals so they’re included in very small amounts. Foods like pumpkin, squash, bananas, blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, pomegranate, papayas, broccoli and cottage cheese, are listed in descending order and they are just above salt, so they don’t qualify as “glam ingredients” (healthy sounding ingredients that are listed below the salt, and thus contribute little or no nutritional value for your dog). But their low position on the ingredient list also suggests the levels aren’t enough to get full benefit of their superfood status.
All of the dry recipes include ingredients known for high pesticide or herbicide residues and GMO crops. Crops that are spray-dried with Roundup contain more glyphosate/herbicide residue than other crops, even genetically modified ones. Glyphosate is an antibiotic that can kill beneficial gut bacteria and has been linked to cancer and other diseases. There are limited safety studies on genetically modified and Roundup Ready crops, although they are lacking in nutrients compared to non-GMO foods. GMO crops also strip nutrients from soils, require increased pesticide risk and may be involved in bee die-off.
It’s unfortunate that only the 5 wet recipes use GMO-free ingredients. However, crops like potatoes are still subjected to herbicides and pesticides. By choosing organic fruits, vegetables and other crops, the company would eliminate the risks of GMO and herbicides/pesticides in all of its dog foods.
The dry foods contain probiotics with guaranteed colony forming units (CFU) of 90 million, which is on the low side..
Now Fresh is a Canadian company with pet food products made in the USA and Canada. It states meats and produce are fit for human consumption. They state they use pasture-raised lamb and grass-fed venison sourced from Australia and New Zealand, but these are marketing terms that have no legal meaning under pet food standards and the company offers no certifications to confirm otherwise. The website also describes the requirements for organic standards in Canada and the Marine Stewardship Council but there is no indication that either of these certifications apply to Now Fresh ingredients.
The average score of Now Fresh dog foods and each sub-brand are listed below. Click on any line to view the individual foods and scores.
With a score of 2.5/10, Now Fresh Dry is considered a high risk dog food based on our criteria. There are 13 recipes that average 26% protein and 37% carbohydrate as calculated. These recipes rate low in ingredient quality for the high carbohydrates as well as excessive added vitamins and minerals, plus some amino acids. Recipes also include pro-inflammatory seed oil. On the ingredient safety side, these foods are ultra-processed, with high heat that destroys nutrients. They have high pesticide foods and GMO crops listed in their top 5 ingredients. They also include natural flavor. Now Fresh doesn’t provide the omega-6:omega-3 ratio, which is a concern since AAFCO allows a very inflammatory ratio of 30:1.
With a score of 6.8/10, Now Fresh Wet dog food is considered a moderate risk dog food based on our criteria. There are 5 cooked recipes that average 46% protein and 14% carbohydrate as calculated on a dry matter basis. Two recipes have higher carbohydrates than expected in a wet food. These recipes have excessive added vitamins and minerals, plus inflammatory seed oil. On the ingredient safety side, cooked foods are moderately processed, which destroys nutrients. They also have high pesticide crops in the top 5 ingredients. Now Fresh doesn’t provide the omega-6:omega-3 ratio, which is a concern since AAFCO allows a very inflammatory ratio of 30:1.
Now Fresh has had no recalls.