Tapioca in Grain Free Pet Food not Made in the USA

Tapioca in Grain Free Pet Food not Made in the USA

Many grain free pet foods on the market today use tapioca as an ingredient, and for very good reason.  Tapioca is used as the starch source to bind together all the other ingredients for the final product consistency and form.  All commercially prepared dry pet foods must contain a form of starch or the final product will be a bunch of crumbs.  Compare this to adding bread crumbs to meatloaf…the bread crumbs are binding the remaining ingredients together so a loaf shape can be formed.

Is Tapioca Healthy?

Yes, the carbohydrate is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and organic compounds. These include a very low level of saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. It is also a rich source of dietary fiber, “good” cholesterol, and protein. Furthermore, tapioca contains members of the vitamin B-complex, including pantothenic acid, folate, and B6, as well as iron, manganese, calcium, copper, and selenium.  Besides, if you’ve ever had tapioca pudding, your taste buds will never forget it…in a good way, of course!  😉

Where does Tapioca Come From?

Tapioca comes from the starch extracted from the cassava root, which is native to Africa and South America.

Is Your Grain Free Pet Food Made in the USA?

With all the buzz and rightful reasons to want to feed a grain free pet food to your dog and cat that is made in the USA, it’s important to check the ingredients on your pet’s food bag.  Many pet food companies claim their grain free formulas are made in the USA; however, if you look close enough at the ingredients and you see tapioca listed, the company you are trusting with your pet’s nutrition may not be completely truthful.  What else could they be hiding?

For a company to claim their grain free dog and cat food formulas are made in the USA, ALL ingredients MUST be USA-sourced ingredients.  Since some tapioca is NOT from the United States, the company cannot say their grain free pet food formulas are Made in the USA.

Call to Action – We Need your Help

Call to ActionTo increase pet consumer awareness, we are in the process of compiling a list of all grain free pet food brands using tapioca as a starch source, stating these formulas are Made in the USA.  If your grain free pet food is made in the USA and tapioca is one of the ingredients, please list the brand name, formula name and where you purchased this pet food in the comments below.

If you’re not using one of these formulas and know the brands that do, please list this in the comments.  It’s important that pet parents know the truth about the food they are feeding their pets.

So What is a Grain Free Pet Food Made in the USA Without Tapioca?

Many companies are using peas and sweet potatoes as the starch source to bind ingredients.  Life’s Abundance is such a company, and since all ingredients are US sourced, we can say that Life’s Abundance Grain Free Dog and Cat Food formulas are truly Made in the USA.  Our ingredients are of the highest quality, prepared in small batches to ensure freshness, guaranteed health-promoting probiotics, holistic veterinarian formulated and from a company NEVER on a RECALL List!

Learn more about these high quality products here:  Life’s Abundance Grain Free Dog Food and Life’s Abundance Grain Free Cat Food.

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28 Responses

  1. kim lindsey says:

    Get Naked Low Calorie Dental chew sticks for dogs.
    They say they are made in the USA and I have been buying them on Amazon. They have tapioca in them.

    Thank you, is there a dental bone you can recommend?

  2. Brenda Jones says:

    BLUE BASICS GRAIN-FREE FORMULA INDOOR MATURE, TURKEY AND POTATO. I’ve been feeding my 2 15 yr old cats this for about 3-4 mos. Both of them used to vomit frequently & I tried many different types of dry food. I tried ones for sensitive stomachs, hairballs, etc. It wasn’t until I tried them on the Blue Grain-Free. Both of my cats have stopped the frequent vomiting. It’s very rare now & when they do, it’s just that they were eating too fast. The ingredients start out:Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Tapioca Starch, Peas, Pea Protein Concentrate, Pea Fiber, Potatoes, & so on. I shop @ Petsmart

    • Bree says:

      Glad your cats are doing well on Blue, but you couldn’t pay me enough money to buy and feed Blue pet products….they’ve been on the recall list one too many times.

    • Blue Buffalo had been in lawsuits for years (they settled, by the way) for adding questionable by-products to their foods and not listing them on their labels, all while touting their foods as by-product free. They lie to consumers and do not safety-check their suppliers. I would recommend switching.

  3. Sara says:

    Natures Instinct Limited Ingredient Formula Dry Cat Food is grain free with tapioca and made in the U.S.A.

  4. Sara says:

    Whoops. I meant Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet – Turkey Meal Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food is one flavor and does contain tapioca. It is made in the USA.

  5. Bethany says:

    I read an entire article about how cassava rooot is dangerous to feed animals, this is just part of the scary article:

    “Furthermore, natural tapioca contains cyanogenic glycosides (specifically linamarin and lotaustralin) which yield hydrocyanic acid upon hydrolysis (as occurs in the stomach). Hydrocyanic acid (hydrogen cyanide) is highly toxic to humans and animals. In fact, hydrogen cyanide is a chemical warfare agent and was used in Germany’s gas chambers and is used for execution today in the U.S. The toxicity is dose dependent and therefore animals or humans fed a steady diet of any food that yields hydrogen cyanide are at risk.
    “Cyanide is an irreversible enzyme inhibitor in cellular respiration pathways. Cyanide ions bind to the iron atom of the enzyme cytochrome c oxidase (also known as aa3) in the fourth complex in mitochondrial membranes. This denatures the enzyme, and the final transport of electrons from cytochrome c oxidase to oxygen cannot be completed. As a result, the electron transport chain is disrupted, meaning that the cell can no longer aerobically produce ATP for energy. In effect, it stops the body from “breathing.”
    The levels that could be reached in a “no grain” tapioca-based pet food could certainly reach dangerous levels. Levels of hydrogen cyanide above 100 parts per million (ppm) in a finished food are considered unacceptable. In a “no grain” formulated pet food, depending upon the type and amount of tapioca used, levels in a typical formula could reach over 1026.3 mg/kg, or 718.85 ppm! The minimal lethal dosage in humans is about 50-60mg. A 60 lb. dog eating an average amount of a “no-grain” tapioca-based pet food could be ingesting 17.6 mg of hydrogen cyanide per day. Considering that this dog is about one third the weight of an average human, on a per weight basis it would be receiving 52.8 mg (3 X 17.6 mg) of hydrogen cyanide, which is within the lethal dose (50-60 mg) range. Even if this calculation is on the high side, lower hydrogen cyanide levels would at the least put the animal at risk of chronic toxicity.”

    How are we ever supposed to find any safe, healthy food for our cats?! The “healthy” natural cat foods contains veggies, fruit, potatoes, fish ( fish causes mercury poisoning)-and none of these things cats are supposed to have. Some even have guar gym (?) which is a huge no-no. Now this root… which is also dangerous. So frustraing! What can we feed them that is grain free, safe and without this root??

    • Jennifer says:

      I have had this same frustration with picking a cat food that is truly healthy for my cats. I have a 6 month old and a 2 month old and I would like to feed them the best thing to give them energy and nutrition and give them a fighting chance for a long life. I battled long and hard with different labels and test runs and ended up with “Nature’s Variety Instinct Ultimate Protein” which seemed to finally be the single best food I could find… Until this tapioca topic came to light. I have seen similar stories to the one you posted here and I’m curious. Did you ever find a better alternative??? I’ve even been tempted to make my own cat food but I’m worried about missing some key nutrients that would result in a deficiency in the long run. Any tips or pointers would welcomed!

      • Bree says:

        Jennifer, thank you for your comments. The ONLY brand I recommend (and feed my Boxers) is Life’s Abundance. You can learn all about this company and pet products here:

        You can message me anytime with questions via my PreciousPets Facebook page:

      • Bethany says:

        Hi Jennifer!

        Yes it’s beyond frustrating! There is always something questionable in pet food. If it’s not one thing then it’s another. You can’t win. I have searched and searched and even the “healthiest, best” food would have something that wasn’t the best. So I have been feeding them Sheba/Fancy feast wet food (they have to have the moisture from wet food everyday) they split a can in the morning and also at dinner. I can’t afford the grain free wet foods right now…so I feed them healthy dry food- right before I go to bed every night…just because they snack and it lasts them through the night then it lasts them all through the day until the night again. But even then it has questionable things in it…but for the most part it is very good food: (Nutri Source) Pure Vita Holistic Pet food Chicken & Pea grain free (cats don’t need peas but gotta pick my battles). You can find it in small pet stores maybe online too. They have other flavors . This one comes in a white bag. And it is one of the least expensive I have found for a healthy cat food…still about $21-$22 but it lasts 5-6 weeks. I hope you find something for your fur babies! 🙂

      • Kara says:

        Hi Jennifer,

        I highly recommend making your own kitty food. Wysong makes the additives to balance the kitty food. It comes in a powder you mix with either cooked or raw food. But, if you make cooked food you MUST add gelatin in order for your kitty to digest it. That is why all wet cat food contains aspic or some sort of oil. Most aspic contains carrageenan which can cause inflammation. So, make sure to buy one without it. I think Knox doesn’t have it.

        Wysong also offers one of the best wet cats foods!
        Ziwi Peak is another wonderful wet food.

        Avoid packet foods as most all contain tapioca!

        Tiki Cat makes a packet food that’s a mouse style w/out tapioca and they also make good wet food.

        Stella and Chewy and other freeze dried raw are an excellent choice as well.

        You’ll be shocked how many expensive pet store foods contain tapioca, carrageenan, guar gum, xanthan gum and other gums that absolutely should be avoided.

        Best of luck!

    • BJ says:

      Have you read this article? http://itchmoforums.com/pet-food-questions-and-researching-foodsingredients/tapioca-in-pet-food-t7743.0.html You can read the entire article…not out of context.

      The key term is “natural Tapioca” which is NOT in human nor pet food….the tapioca used is Commercially processed Tapioca. All the cyanogenic glycosides are removed in the process of deriving tapioca starch from cassava roots, which is described in the above article.

      • Kara says:

        Thank you! I’ll certainly read this! But still, tapioca becomes a simple sugar which can cause other health issues like obesity and type 2 diabetes. I’d forgo the starches as they aren’t a natural part of a cat’s or dog’s diet. Jmho.

    • Kara says:

      Thank you!! I read that same article! Just because something contains vitamins and minerals etc that are normaly good for the body doesn’t necessarily mean the overall item is healthy. Chocolate contains milk which is good for the body in moderation but it also contains a ton of refined sugar. Ok. It’s late and that’s the best snark I can do at this hour. Lol. But seriously tapioca is NO laughing matter.

      Feeding cats and dogs tapioca on a regular basis causes health issues by basically slowly stopping cellular respiration.

      It also converts to a simple sugar which can and usually will lead to diabetes.

      This article tries to make it look like a harmless ingredient but it is certainly NOT! GRAINS are MUCH healthier for our pets! High protein and low grains and fermented vegetables and fruits are BEST.

      PLEASE don’t feed tapioca no matter where it is grown.

      • Glen says:

        When I’ve fed our cats dry food with grains, they’ve always come down with gastritis (excessive belching), which goes away when switching back to grain-free dry food. When feeding them dry food with a high pea content, such as Natural Balance Green Pea and Chicken, we’ve had behavioral issues. Our two Persian-mix cats hid from everyone. Our oldest never left the master bedroom, preferring to stay on the top shelf of the closet. Our middle cat was aggressive and tried to run the household. It wasn’t until we switched to a low-pea dry food that all these behaviors slowly went away. Our closet-cat is now lying beside me on my desk as I type this. It’s now normal for all three to come into the kitchen simultaneously at feeding time, something that I thought I’d never see.

        Our oldest has developed a chronic bladder infection that is likely triggered by excessive water intake due to an upset stomach. I just purchased a small bag of dry food that lists chicken first and tapioca second to see if this will help solve the issue. After reading up on cats and tapioca, and considering the endless issues we’ve had with rice and peas, I’ve pretty much concluded that nothing good comes from feeding cats dry food.

    • Tryn says:

      Honestly, the only way to have complete control over your pet’s food is to make you own. There are very simple, inexpensive recipes you can obtain from pet nutritionists, as well as groups you can join. Unfortunately, when you leave your pet’s nutrition in the hands of another, you are always taking a risk. The bigger and more profit-oriented a company is, the bigger the risk and the more likely the food is built to generate profits – not optimal nutrition. There are courses you can take online for simple nutrition basics regarding companion animal food, and you might find them most helpful!

  6. Tracy says:

    Grain Free American Journey Cat Food chicken and the salmon varieties have tapioca starch listed as the 3rd ingredients. They also make a grain free dog food that I believe also has tapioca starch in it. And yes it says manufactured in the USA but it does also say from domestic and imported ingredients. I’ve been feeding this to my 2 cats now for about 6 mo. They both used to vomit after eating a lot of times but since being on American Journey grain free the vomiting hardly ever happens but once in a great while. Not sure how I feel now though since finding out that some of the ingredients are imported. That’s a scary thought.

  7. Marie Ferguson says:

    This information is incorrect. Cassava aka Tapioca is grown in the United States!! It has been for over 100 years.. Where you received your data is unknown, however, with even a tad bit of research you would see that Cassava is grown in the states and is available in mass quantity to pet food companies. The data provider obviously didn’t understand how to research wholesale produce growers (not the easiest task, but not too difficult either).
    I even live across the street from a cassava farm in south Florida. It is gorgeous and more cassava than you can shake a stick at!
    Here is one of the growers in South Florida http://www.ctyfarms.com/ They grow only organic, non-gmo cassava. J&C Tropicals are large produce growers in south Florida. They also produce cassava on their farms in Florida. There are a number of producers in south Florida, both small and large operations. The demand for US grown cassava is here, but for these growers it always has been. More and more farmers are jumping on the bandwagon to get in on the boom. Cassava is super easy to grow but it hates the cold. Which is why south Florida is the ideal place. We don’t have winters, 70 is freezing for me.

    Please don’t throw these companies under the bus because of bad information. Contact the pet food company and request the name of their cassava supplier. It is pretty simple and those I have spoken to give it up right away. Once they know I am not a competitor.

    Please update your information to reflect the truth and have people contact the manufacturer to simply ask. Don’t be negative when speaking to them, no need for that. You will find they are generally very helpful and happy to provide you with any information you are seeking.


    • Kara says:

      The author didn’t say that it is not grown in the US but rather that some companies may claim their foods are made entirely in the US but actually obtain their raw materials for tapioca from outside of the US and if it means that much to the consumer that they ought to double check. No tossing anyone under the bus. Just trying to help consumers to remember that labels on food, especially pet food, are tricky. While I appreciate where you’re coming from maybe read the article once again.

  8. Barbara says:

    I rotate several different brands of grain free dog food. There may be no perfect one, thus by rotating, my dogs receive constant change and besides that get to change from one taste to another. Would you like to always eat the same thing?

    • Tryn says:

      Perfect! If your dog is destined to eat kibble, varying the kibble no less than every three months is a great way to help prevent micronutrient deficiencies. Also consider adding fresh, whole food supplements to your dog’s diet. Every little bit helps! ^_^

  9. Lisa says:

    Wholehearted by Petco Grainfree
    Chicken and Pea

  10. Brenda says:

    Dr Tims Kinesis grain free dog food also contains Tapioca, i didnt realize that it was actually a sugar.

  11. FerretOwnerSince1988 says:

    Concern about Tapioca as a binder is so alarmist and unfounded. Go to research, not articles from competitive pet food companies.


    • Tryn says:

      The study you are citing is only a comparison of different carbohydrate sources and their effects on glucose blood sugar levels and stimulation on cats, looking at a total of six different diets. This has no bearing on the safety of different forms of tapioca, what it may do long term to cellular and organ function, or how it effects other companion animals. I appreciate your trying to be objective, and to utilize government studies, but you need to know and understand what you’re reading and looking at or it’s not going to help you make informed decisions. Please bear in mind that nutritional science is one of the most volatile and poorly standardized branch of science, and studies done on companion animals are severely lacking. As with many starches, tapioca doesn’t provide a lot of vitamins, although it does provide some B vitamins and essential fatty acids. Tapioca has a good mix of minerals, including iron and calcium. Like tapioca, potatoes are a good source of iron. Potatoes are also a good source of vitamin C and fiber. Both tapioca and potatoes contain little fat or protein, and should not be considered as a source for either when choosing a food for your pup. The GI score of Tapioca is, verifiably, quite high, between 60-90 depending on how it’s processed. Any large spike in blood sugar is unhealthy, and it’s especially unhealthy in carnivores like dogs and cats, over long periods of time lead to nutritionally based diseases, such as diabetes. Each and every ingredient and micro and macro nutrients within are complex, and require looking at potentially hundreds of studies and cases before a decision can be made. Therefore, the best course of action to take is to always consider your pet’s biology, and what they are built to eat and thrive on. Obligate carnivores, such as our domestic cats, thrive on a diet mainly of meat, organ, and bone. Starch plays absolutely no role in their dietary requirements. And while dogs have evolved the ability to digest starch – far better than their wolf ancestors (it was determined they have somewhere between 4 – 20 markers for the gene that produces amylase), it does not in any way mean that they “thrive” on a starch-rich diet. Not even humans, who are far better at digesting starches and carbs than dogs, thrive on such a diet. I encourage you to keep learning, keep researching, and never stop doubting! But most of all, don’t be afraid to be skeptical of your own beliefs. Once you are sure you *know* something, you stop looking and stop learning <3

      • FerretOwnerSince1988 says:

        My degree is in Animal Nutrition. Research is what I do.

        • Tryn says:

          Could have fooled me *shrug* I’m actually interested in Pet Nutrition, have been working in the field for 6 + years, received several certifications in pet nutrition, and I have the dedication and know-how to provide better, more current nutritional consultations than the vast majority of veterinarians. If your chosen vocation is in nutritional science, and you actually care about good research and current data, you wouldn’t refer to one, barely relatable study and call it good. One’s job as a nutritionist is never done – you can never stop learning, and you can’t be so proud that you are unable to admit when you were wrong about something. Whenever I learn of new data that conflicts with previous data, I accept that I may have been wrong. Period. That is how science works – you come to conclusions based on the information available. You don’t seek information to bolster a belief you already have. Tapioca is a Carbohydrate and is a low quality, high glycemic, unnecessary ingredient in pet food, used more for the binding of ingredients in extruded kibble, and studies have shown that pet ingesting high GL foods, as expected, would maintain high Glucose levels, leading to obesity and Diabetes Mellitus. Recommending high sugar foods to pet owners is irresponsible and the only ones who benefit from such recommendations are the pet food manufacturers themselves.

  12. FerretOwnerSince1988 says:

    And yet you are doing the exact thing you accuse, refusing to believe a research study cited, and concluding that I am recommending a food from one comment, as well as being dismissive and even rude right off the cuff.
    Nowhere did I make any recommendations, I merely offered a study that conflicted with your conclusion that tapioca in a food makes it “high sugar.” Tapioca starch is a reasonable alternative to some grains as a binder in kibble. None are perfect.

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