You might be thinking this name does not even sound like an ingredient. So then what is it? Agar-Agar is a processed substance made from seaweed, specifically purple or red seaweed. It has a long history and was discovered in Japan in the 1600s. This item is known for its widespread use, however, most of its production occurs in Japan.
What is Agar?
Before the final product is formed, the seaweed is processed on an industrial scale in factories and goes through various processes, including boiling and washing. The most frequent form of Agar-Agar manufactured is in the form of a powdery powder comparable to flour. This powder is then dehydrated with water to provide a gelatin-like material.
After this processed ingredient is formed it is used by numerous industries throughout the world to combine or include in various packaged foods or biological applications.
Agar-Agar can be used in human foods such as sweets such as puddings, jellies, and custards. It can also be used as a vegetarian alternative to gelatin.
Agar-Agar is also used as a culture medium for microbiological studies, which is an intriguing use. While the forms have evolved over time, Agar-Agar use to be the most popular and commonly used ingredient for these culture purposes.
Finally, and most importantly it can be included in pet food or recipes.
Also, despite the fact that it is produced from seaweed, after processing agar-agar is an extremely neutral product with very little smell or taste. This is one of the reasons it is so popular for mixing with human and pet foods.
Can you use Agar-Agar for pet foods?
Agar-Agar is frequently found in pet food recipes, specifically wet/canned pet foods. It is primarily used for its thickening, binding, and gelling qualities in pet foods.
Regardless of how it sounds, it is an important ingredient for creating canned or wet pet food. And is crucial to achieving consistency in texture and appearance.
If this ingredient is not present during the manufacturing of wet pet food, the ingredients may separate, resulting in food that is less palatable or unpleasant.
Several of these components, including Agar-Agar, are used in pet food. Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum, Carrageenan, and starches like Potato Starch and Tapioca Starch are some of the most popular examples.
Agar-Agar is not the most common of these binding agents, but it is a well-known choice employed by many pet food companies.
Is Agar-Agar bad for pet foods?
Firstly the federal health authorities in most developed countries have approved the use of Agar-Agar in pet food. And secondly, the amount of Agar-Agar present in most pet foods is quite low. These two facts indicate that Agar-Agar is harmless for pet food and can be used.
However, not all animals react positively to it and some may experience mild side effects or symptoms.
The most common of them are stomach upsets or other digestion issues like diarrhea. The reason for this is that Agar-Agar is mostly fiber in its dried form.
This is quite similar to the minor side effects of other binding, gelling or thickening agents including Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum, and Carrageenan.
The problem is that it can be difficult to determine if the problem is caused by the Agar-Agar or another ingredient in the recipe.
So after knowing what kind of ingredient Agar-agar is we can conclude the following. Most ingredients in human and pet foods cause similar side effects and allergic reactions. But so far, Agar-Agar appears to be a safer option than some of the alternatives. Most ingredient suppliers follow the pet food product safety alliance so there is nothing to worry about when purchasing ingredients.