Use of Grain Sorghum as the Primary Ingredient in Premium Extruded Foods Designed for Cats

Grain sorghum is an underutilized crop, especially for value-added applications such as foods for humans and pets. One important reason for underutilization of sorghum in human food and pet food alike are prevalent ‘misconceptions’ and lack of scientific data on the nutritional quality and also acceptability (or palatability) of sorghum-based products. This study aims to generate such scientific data with regard to use of sorghum in pet food products. Pet food production is a multibillion dollar industry in the U.S. with continuous growth for the past 10 years. Pet food sales are estimated to reach $21.26 billion during 2013. There is potential for use of grain sorghum in pet food products as a less expensive alternative to other cereal ingredients such as corn and rice. Sorghum can also provide nutritional benefits related to slower digestibility of starch or lower glycemic response, which can aid in premium products targeted towards obese, diabetic and geriatric (or old) pets. The drawbacks of sorghum related to poor digestibility of protein and bitter taste due to tannins can be addressed by using a high-energy and dry processing method such as extrusion. This project was designed for validating the above hypotheses in relation to use of sorghum in dry expanded cat food. The overall objective of the proposed project is to develop nutritionally balanced and highly palatable premium pet food products for cats with grain sorghum as the primary cereal ingredient and carbohydrate source. These premium pet foods will be targeted towards obese cats where the resistant and low glycemic nature of sorghum starch would be especially attractive, while utilizing a balanced formulation and the special ‘dry processing’ characteristic of extrusion to provide adequate and bio-available amino acid profile and palatability.

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