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The Maillard reaction and pet food processing: effects on nutritive value and pet health

  • Charlotte van Rooijen (a1), Guido Bosch (a1), Antonius F. B. van der Poel (a1), Peter A. Wierenga (a2), Lucille Alexander (a3) and Wouter H. Hendriks (a1) (a4)...


The Maillard reaction, which can occur during heat processing of pet foods or ingredients, is known to reduce the bioavailability of essential amino acids such as lysine due to the formation of early and advanced Maillard reaction products (MRP) that are unavailable for utilisation by the body. Determination of the difference between total and reactive lysine by chemical methods provides an indication of the amount of early MRP present in foods, feeds and ingredients. Previous research reported that the difference between total and reactive lysine in pet foods can be up to 61·8 %, and foods for growing dogs may be at risk of supplying less lysine than the animal may require. The endogenous analogues of advanced MRP, advanced glycation endproducts, have been associated with age-related diseases in humans, such as diabetes and impaired renal function. It is unknown to what extent advanced MRP are present in pet foods, and if dietary MRP can be associated with the development of diseases such as diabetes and impaired renal function in pet animals. Avoidance of ingredients with high levels of MRP and processing conditions known to favour the Maillard reaction may be useful strategies to prevent the formation of MRP in manufactured pet food. Future work should further focus on understanding the effects of ingredient choice and processing conditions on the formation of early and advanced MRP, and possible effects on animal health.

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Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Dr Guido Bosch, fax +31 317 484260, email


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