A Pet Food Manufacturer Speaks Up

Kumpi KatEvy Serpa, the president of a small Colorado pet food maker named Kumpi Pet Foods, wrote us a heartfelt letter about the choices she made when developing her food — researching ingredients, suppliers, and manufacturers.

(This is in no way an endorsement of Kumpi Pet Foods. Please read and compare for yourself.)

Her whole letter is after the jump.

1) Something the general public isn’t aware of is that most pet foods are ‘dial-a-formula’ products. Both in the wet and dry pet food industry manufacturers have a wide variety of formulas for their customer (the pet food company) to choose from. The difference? The ability to mass market and have lots dollars to make the product fly. On the other hand, I first worked with a premiere multi-species nutritionist. Then I did the leg work on talking with a wide variety of private label pet food manufacturers.

2) Industry standards are a strange beast in the pet food world. One top brand of pet food started listing an ingredient on their label that is not in the AAFCO manual. By AAFCO protocol we are to use only the ingredient name they have outlined. In this case, “Dried Beet Pulp” is the AAFCO definition. Yet one company had enough money and marketing savvy to begin placing “Dried Beet Pulp (sugar removed)” on their labels. Needless to say, those of us following the rules received many calls from concerned consumers that our beet pulp had sugar in it, which it does not. It was the same exact ingredient. But the offending company has money and they took a bold stand against AAFCO and it has gone on for years.

3) With the formula I want to produce in hand, “How do you find a manufacturer you can trust?” I asked myself nine years ago. The people I trusted earned it because:

  • They are an APHIS facility (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service):
    That means they are willing to hold themselves accountable to an organization that is part of government regulation. Big plus.
  • They are voluntarily an AIB facility (American Institute of Bakers):
    This is extraordinary. They are willing to have their plant inspected by these folks who will hold them to the standards of a human bakery, whose standards are darn high! Those plants are really big and this showed me that they are doing their house keeping well per contaminants, etc.
  • They source their ingredients from a company that let me take a look:
    I visited the source of their ‘dries’ and even looked at the suppliers of suppliers. No euthanized animals, roadkill, horse meat, etc. I had the opportunity to watch as they tested their ingredients and saw a truck drive away that didn’t meet their standards. It was a bad day for that farmer, but an assurance to me since I got to watch the probing and could see for myself why the grain was disqualified. FYI, they exceeded the standards set by the government in testing to make absolutely sure their initial dries are safe
  • I deal with two companies really and they are ‘heartland’ people:
    This was the deal maker for me. They are located in two very small towns and their economy is very reliant on the integrity of their products. If anyone is aware of how tenuous and fragile this industry is — they are. Also, spending time in town and the plant, you can’t help but see the sense of community pride. Very compelling.
  • They looked me straight in the eye when we talked. Yes, all of them!
    There is a lot to be said for going with your gut when making business decisions. There had been plenty of times before my growth where they treated me just like a big company and dealt with my tiny concerns about kibble size, where to place the time-stamp production mark, holding my food in their bays for me (so I didn’t run the risk of picking up field mice during transit since my food is produced, kept in rodent free bays with rapid deliveries) and on and on. I felt that if they didn’t treat me like a number and dealt with me as an individual they would do the same with my product - and they have. Every plant member, staff member and corporate too.

4) Part of my blessing is that I wasn’t trying to start a pet food company. My other job involved me with dog behavior. That is where my journey started. I watched for years as my ex-students returned with pups, only to tell me their first dog died around 7 - 9 years of age with cancer. Now, you’re talking with a old fart here. When I was a kid you didn’t get nervous about a larger breed like Labs, Goldens or Shepherds until they were around 15 years old! Then when my dog died of cancer when he was only 5-years-old. My conclusion? Fire corporate America and take things into my own hands!

6) Pet food labels. Let’s get one thing straight. The first ingredient is not the ‘base’ of a food. If there has been one thing that has frustrated me, it has been that conception. I actually have a meat/grain comparison chart on my web site to prove my point. Think of is this way:

  • 1st ingredient - 301 pounds (meat)
  • 2nd ingredient - 300 pounds (grain)
  • 3rd ingredient - 300 pounds (grain)
  • 4th ingredient - 300 pounds (grain)

Now tell me that is a meat based food. This is the greatest deception the industry has pulled in my opinion. Too many people are feeding meat flavored cereal and at a high price, not only financially but in the health of their pet as well.

7) The ‘C’ word - corn. Talk about an ingredient that has received such bad press by blatant ignorance. I am attaching a study that was done on broad spectrum grain. Corn is only a little over 1% less digestible than one form of rice and far more digestible than another. Over 60% of the naturally occurring fat in corn is the powerful anti-oxidant Omega 6 (aka linoleic acid). That plays a large part in why my customers’ dogs have beautiful coats — a healthy, saturated hair follicle doesn’t break off easily. Remember it ain’t raw corn in that dog food, it’s corn meal.

8) I see the comment that ‘corn’ is a bad source of protein. Well duh. That’s like being anti-honey because you can’t wash your hair with it. What people get confused about is that many companies use corn gluten meal (different animal from corn meal) for a protein source in their foods. It bugs me when I see it on a cat food label since it keeps the protein high and the ash content down, but doesn’t deliver the essential amino acids that meat does.

My advice to the consumer: nutrition is science. To the pet food industry: shame on you for following consumer trends and making products that are easy to market. You should be setting the standards and not chasing after dollars.

My nutritionist made a sobering comment to me when I first starting working with him. He told me, that in the current market, with the current perception of the pet food consumer that I had two choices.

I could look like the best dog food or be the best dog food.

Well, you know which route I took.

Public thanks to the canine units of The New York State Canine Handling Unit, The Metropolitan Transit Authority of New York City and The United Nations Ambassador Security Detail for trusting me all these years.


Evy Serpa can be reached at kumpi@earthlink.net.

Attached Kumpi Corn Breakdown (Word Document)

20 Responses to “A Pet Food Manufacturer Speaks Up”

  1. Robert Davis says:

    You will never go wrong if you feed Kumpi to your dog or cat …

    I have 3 dogs and 5 cats and of all the “premium brands” out there…..
    Kumpi is the only one they have all taken to and done well with.

    My cats were on ProPlan Adult and did okay - but their coats were just
    not shiny and they were lacking energy. So I tried the ProPlan Senior
    thinking they needed more protein…well all they did was vomit. So I
    decided it was time to try Kumpi cat food. I’m glad I did. The kibble
    is small (which is good for my adult and senior cats), it smells
    great, and they stopped throwing up. Their fur is soft again and they
    just seem happier and more active in my house.

    I’ve also tried Nutro for cats in the past before ProPlan…but my senior cats couldn’t handle it after a few months - the vomitting started. And Iams/Eukenuba is out of the question - with all the horrid dog and cat experiments they do for their food - well I just can’t feed that kind of horror and cruelty to my pets ( http://www.iamscruelty.com ).

    I can tell you know - I have spent hours reading labels at Petsmart and Petco…hoping to find the right product. Well, the right product (the one I trust and see positive results with) is Kumpi.

    My adult and senior dogs do great on Kumpi - their skin is perfect and
    they have a ton of energy. I did use Purina OM for my oldest senior
    dog to lose weight - and that worked as promised…but I wanted him back
    on regular, high quality food. I didn’t like that the OM had so much
    fiber. Although he lost weight, I just felt he wasn’t absorbing enough
    of the nutrition and for a senior he needs the right balance.

    My most Senior Dog, Lobo takes meds for Arthritis…but after being on Kumpi for just 2 weeks he was walking better, his stool didn’t smell bad, and I’ve reduced his medication and been able to get him to exercise more. His happy days have also increased! He is 12 years 3 months old. And he is doing really good - and I live in Minnesota where it gets real COLD. I’m hoping to have my friend around much longer than the pet food industry says is an average life for a senior German Shepherd/Malamute mix.

    Get some Kumpi today!!!!! If you buy cheap - you are going to get
    cheap and w/some brands you may overpay for cheap! But with Kumpi you
    buy quality! Remember - your companion animals are what they eat.

  2. Tracy says:

    This was very informative and I learned alot about pet food. I had no idea! I will definitely be looking into Kumpi more extensively.
    It’s refreshing to read that there is someone out there who really cares about the health of our pets and not just the bottom line of $$$$$.

  3. Christina says:

    Hugely informative and well-researched post. Props to Kumpi! But while Evy touches on pet food standards in her post, I want to share some info on pet food regulations. I dont know how much people know about the legal regulations in place for pet food, but after doing some research and listening to the FDA press conference last Friday, I learned that the pet food industry is incredibly well regulated, and that this recall, while serious, is not reflective of an industry problem.

    For example… Pet foods are one of the most highly regulated food products on store shelves. They are required by law to provide on their labels more information than most human foods. One of the main FDA guys said last Friday that that regulation of pet foods is the same as human foods!

    There are two federal agencies regulating pet food (USDA and the FDA) and other regulations going on on the state level. So while this recall is at the front of everyone’s minds, it’s important for us to stay calm and remember that the vast majority of pet foods (99%) are safe.

  4. Angie Jamison says:

    Westie Rescue of Missouri is proud to feed their rescues Kumpi. We have seen wonderful results in Westies with skin, tummy and ear issues. We recommend this food highly! Many foster homes are now feeding Kumpi as a result - I am a firm believer in this food, even feeding my four dogs (2 Westies, 2 Yorkies) Kumpi. They are healthy, happy and thankfully not harmed by the recent nightmare in the pet food industry!

    I learned first hand the horror of feeding just TWO pouches of Nutro to my youngest Yorkie as a ‘treat’ in December when he turned 1 year old…. he suffered shocking seizures that caused me to fear he may not make it through the next. My vet investigated everything, but could not find the cause to would send a healthy Yorkie of just a year into violent, foaming at the mouth seizures! I told him nothing had changed and that I fed him the Nutro as a treat, but at that time we didn’t know… we didn’t know. However, I did not offer him any futher ‘treats’ of the pouches since we decided to just feed him the Kumpi to see if we could narrow the trigger to the seizures, but they stopped! He has not had another siezure since I stopped feeding the pouches…. then the word came out that the Nutro was causing seizures and death! I had always trusted Nutro, and sadly can no longer do so at the sake of my pets. Thanks goodness I only had two pouches to feed him. He is healthy and happy today - and fed ONLY Kumpi!

    Thanks to Kumpi, we can sleep easier knowing OUR dogs are SAFE! Thank you, Evy!! THANK YOU and PAW HUGS for being hands on and assuring your customers you are there for us!!
    Angie Jamison
    Westie Rescue of Missouri

  5. eric albert says:

    Frankie has been eating Kumpi for a few years and has never looked or felt better. I know buying and usint Kumpi is the right thing to do.

  6. eric albert says:

    I meant “using”

  7. Sarah Simpson says:

    I can’t wait to read more about Kumpi and to find out if it is offered at all Petsmart or Petco stores, or if not, where I can find it.
    We work with rescue dogs who often in pretty bad shape and I am really concerned about finding a good food for them. I have also had some negative results from high-profile senior foods, and have stopped using them.
    More info would be great, along with suggestions where Kumpi might be found in Kansas.

  8. Didi says:

    Pet Food is NOT well regulated.
    Pet Food companies voluntarily agree to participate in AAFCO labeling. AAFCO labeling requires listing in order of weight of ingredients and requires certain ingredient definitions. Do you know that pet food can contain blood, feces, feathers, tumors from dead animals of any species and this does NOT appear on the label? Do you know that if suppliers of ingredients add chemicals, pesticides and medications that does not have to appear on the labels??
    AAFCO is founded and run by pet food companies. It has no regulatory powers and does not investigate. USDA will investigate a complaint about pet food IF the pet owner has PROOF that the pet food caused a problems AND a sample.

  9. 42 says:

    I’ve tried so many different foods for Crackers teh big orange kitteh and I am sooo tired of cleaning up his puke because the one food that does not make him puke is the original IAMS stuff. He even pukes tuna, and the one time I tried frozen (thawed, natch) raw food he didn’t eat for the whole week of that experiment, and that stuff is just nasty.

    But I am going to try this stuff anyway because I hate hate hate supporting P&G and their testing abbatoirs. God I hate the idea of having my cat food delivered, it’s so blowthedotoutyourass.com … but WTF, it beats cleaning up cat hurl and spot-cleaning the carpets.

  10. Robert F Davis says:

    To Sara

    Kumpi can be bought online and in some store locations (not in Petco or Petsmarts). Contact Evy for more information. I buy mine online and Fedex has no problem getting my food to me.

    You can e-mail her at kumpi@earthlink.net or give her a call at 303.693.6533. Her websites are http://www.kumpi.com or http://www.kumpikat.com. Give her a call….I just talked to her last night for like 90 minutes…she is very accessible and is always happy to talk to people about pet health and nutrition.

    Best Regards,


  11. garyn says:

    What concerns me is that the second ingredient in the adult dog food is “meat and bone meal.” This is a red alert to me. I am not trying to offend but if it was an identifiable product it would be identified…such as chicken, turkey, beef, buffalo etc. When the term “meat” is used it can be anything and any part including road kill and rendered animals. I am not suggesting that you use this in your product, I really don’t know, but I can’t help but wonder why you are labeling the ingredient so ambiguously. I was looking for a new food for my mother-in-law but not a product that uses “meat meal”. And why not use whole eggs instead of egg product which is the leftover by-products of the egg. And why use corn at all in food for a carnivore.

  12. Michael says:

    Evy is amazing!! With the whole recall, we decided to find a food for our dog that can be trusted. Not from a company that clearly has money and profits over a quality product. After a lot of searching, we found Kumpi (and Evy!) - Please, everyone. If you care about your pet, and truly want the best food, do your research, and check out http://www.kumpi.com - and send an E-mailt o Evy, and you’ll get a REAL reply from the President of the company. How many other companies would do this? How many other companies will also help you out personally with questions you have about their food? Kumpi discloses everything and the information is pricless. We ordered our first bag last night, and we’re looking forward to seeing if all the testimonials and stories are true. I pray they are, but I have no reason to believe they aren’t. :) Thanks Evy!!!!

  13. Leslie says:

    I rescued my corgi-mix, Bitey, from a shelter when he was six weeks old. From the very beginning I wanted to make sure he had the best food available so I fed Science Diet for years. A few years ago I attended a law enforcement canine exhibition with a friend who works for the sheriff’s office. Kumpi was there with an information table and free samples of their food. I took them home and my dog who has never been a big eater loved them. I’m not a person who jumps into anything without leaning all I can. I researched Kumpi online, I compared the ingredients to his Science Diet, and I talked to my vet. In the end I decided that switching to Kumpi was a no brainer. Bitey has never had any significant health issues so I can’t comment on any remarkable recoveries but since the switch I have noticed significant changes. His coat is luxurious and he now sheds much less. His teeth are in great shape and he goes twice as long between cleanings. The very best thing is that my 11 year-old best friend is amazingly active, lively, and healthy! In the past three years, even as he gets older chronologically, he has regained his youth! I will never feed any food other than Kumpi!

  14. Joeline Webber says:

    I WISH I could try the Kumpi foods but I can’t. Quite oppostie to what has been said in various places by Evy some breeds are known to be sensitive to corn and my breed, the Schipperke, is one of them. Evy is right about the nutritional value of ground corn but in our case it just won’t work. We, and other Schip people arrived at this by the trial and error method of introducing food ingredients one at a time and corn proved to be the problem in our *allergy* situation. Breeds ARE different..

  15. Annette says:

    I looked at the ingredients. While she does seem concerned about nutrition, I don’t like any food that lists corn as the first ingredient. Nor do I like “meat meal”. Since they don’t specify what meat, it can be anything.
    I appreciate her concern and research, but I think there are better foods out there.

  16. Lisa says:

    What an amazing product! My oldest Kitty Jaguar has suffered from skin allergies and issues his whole life needing medicine every other day.
    He’s been on KumpiKat for alomst a month and NO MORE issues! The Vet was amazed and so was I. He is so healthy, looks great & happy.
    My Dog is also eating Kumpi. She loves it & is back to her healthly weight and active as ever. I wish I found Evy years ago!

    THANK YOU !!!!

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  18. Michael says:

    Annette — perhaps she changed the labeling for concerns like yours, but here’s the ingredient list, and all of the meats are clearly identified:


    Also, there is a link about “Cornphobia” and why it’s not a bad ingredient (unless your pet is allergic to it).

    We’ve been using Kumpi for over a year now, and it’s definitely been everything we expected it to be. Please support Evy. She’s an amazing person, businessperson, and someone who cares about our pets.

  19. cal says:

    So…she puts corn meal in the food but says gluten meal is better. why is she critisizing food manufactures for going after dollars when her food is also very expensive?

  20. Jason says:

    I would love to try Kumpi, but I barely spend as much money on my own meals in one week as one bag of this would cost! I have hounds and would like to feed a good “NATURAL, PURE, Small town, Heartland Person that looked me in the eye” quality feed, but I guess it’s only for those with more money than sense with 1-2 little dogs that lie around all day waiting for their next 4# bag of edible gold…cats, free - $ 800, man’s best friend $ 100-10000, KUMPI-’PRICELESS’!!!

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