Ocean Nutrition Spirulina Flakes Ingredients:
Plant meals, spirulina, fish solubles, whole sardine, salmon fillets, lecithin, krill, kelp, brewer's yeast, salmon oil, mineral premix, vitamin premix, brine shrimp embryos, adult brine shrimp, carotenoid pigments, and preservatives.
Ocean Nutrition Spirulina Flakes Ingredients Analysis
The primary ingredient is "Plant Meals". It would be preferable if "plants" was defined as that covers an entire range of life on earth, some more nutritious than others. I suppose it also covers wheat, soy, and corn, which may be why "Plant Meals" is listed as an ingredient instead of good things like "Kelp, Spinach, Peas, carrots, etc.... But lets give Ocean Nutrition the benefit of the doubt and assume "Plant Meal" is comprised of some type of acceptable plant protein. Being listed as a meal means it is in its dry form so its ordering in the ingredient list is accurate. The primary ingredient of this food is, indeed, plant meal.
The second listed ingredient is Spirulina, which is what you would expect from a "Spirulina Flake". Spirulina is sometimes called "The Most Nutritious Food on the Planet". Rich in raw protein and seven major vitamins: A1, B1, B2, B6, B12 (one of the best natural sources for B12, although the bioavailability of its B12 is in dispute by many researchers), C and E. It naturally contains beta-carotene, color enhancing pigments, and a whole range of minerals. In addition, Spirulina has 62% amino acid content and contains all essential fatty acids and eight amino acids required for complete nutrition. It is easily digested due to the fact that Spirulina cells do not have cellulose walls.
Fish Solubles is a less desired ingredient. A by-product of fish canning and fish oil industries. During the processing of fish to recover the oil fraction, a mixture of water and oil is produced. Then after this mixture is centrifuged to remove the oil, the water containing fraction can then be condensed or dried to produce condensed fish solubles (or dried fish solubles.) In this instance, the wet form of the product is used. It is generally introduced as a spraw to the completed flake or pellet.
Whole Sardines is a reference to the use of the "whole fish", not just processing leftovers after the remainder of the fish is processed for human consumption.
Salmon fillets are cuts of salmon meat, absent bones. Likely includes salmon skin as well which is high in astaxanthin, a color enhancing carotenoid. Salmon is high in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.
Brewers Yeast is a by-product of the beer making process, this ingredient contains about 45% protein and is rich in Vitamin B. Its use in fish foods is as either as a protein source or a vitamin supplement. Studies do exist identifying its capacity to improve fish growth rates. When used as a supplement comprising between 2% and 4% of the food, this is an acceptable product. When used as a primary provider of protein comprising 25% or more of the food it is less acceptable as protein digestibility concerns have been documented. Its use in this food does not appear excessive.
At question with this food are the two labels of "Vitamin Premix" and "Preservatives", without listing the contents of the Vitamin Premix or which preservative is used. We'll assume Menadione Sodium Bisulfite (synthetic vitamin K) is contained within the vitamin mix and amongst the preservatives will be ethoxyquin, bha, bht, or all three, as is the case with some Ocean Nutrition Foods. This food does not appear to utilize artificial coloring agents.
Warning: Other listings of this product contain a completely different (and inferior) ingredient list as identified below:
Wheat flour, fish meal, wheat gluten, dried fish solubles, salmon, lecithin, spirulina algae, krill meal, dried kelp, fish oil (preserved with ethoxyquin), brewers dried yeast, brine shrimp, magnesium sulphate hetahydrate, soy bean meal, coconut carbon, vitamins [vitamin AD3, vitamin A, cholecalciferol (source of vitamin D3), alpha tocopheral acetate (source of vitamin E), menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of vitamin K3 activity), thiamine mononitrate (source of vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), pyridoxine hydrochloride (source of Vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), niacin, calcium pantothenate, folic acid, biotin, antioxidant, anticake], caramel powder, artificial color, minerals(Calcium carbonate, Zinc sulphate monohydrate, selenium, manganese sulphate monohydrate, copper sulphate pentahydrate, calcium iodate anhydrous, cobalt carbonate), choline chloride, a-tocopherol acetate, Astaxanthan color, canthaxantin color, inositol, niacin.
The above ingredient list can be considered significantly inferior to the listing discussed in this document, which is the ingredient list on the can of food in my possession and the ingredient list identified on the Ocean Nutrition website.
Oscarfish.Com Rating: 3 Star
There are too many unknowns associated with this food to provide it with the rating it may deserve, which could be as high as a 5 star food. If "Plant Meal" contains quality plant proteins, and if the vitamin premix does not contain Menadione Sodium Bisulfite (synthetic vitamin K), and if the "Presevatives" utilized are not Ethoyxquin, BHA, or BHT, then this is a 5 star food. Just too many "ifs" and "ands" to allow for that high a rating. As such, a 3 star rating is awarded. If "plant meals" can be defined, this rating will be easily increased to a 4 star, even if the remaining "ifs" are unknown or negatively confirmed.
Understanding Oscarfish.Com Ratings:
This review is an attempt to analyze the ingredients, rating them from 1 (worst) to 6 (best) in an effort to judge quality based upon three simple criteria.
- Absence of toxic, potentially toxic, and controversial ingredients
- Aquatic Animal protein and Preferred Plant Proteins as the primary protein sources
- A fully nutritious food to include necessary vitamins and minerals with natural sources of vitamins and minerals being preferred.
These basic concepts apply:
- Any food that utilizes Ethoxyquin, BHA, or BHT as preservatives, cannot rate higher than a 4 star food.
- Use of artificial colors prevents rating higher than a 4 star food.
- Any food that utilizes Menadione Sodium Bisulfite (Synthetic Vitamin K, aka K3) cannot rate higher than a 5 star food.
- Inclusion of the “Whole Fish”, or “Whole Krill” (in meal form or not) is preferred over fish meal or krill meal.
- In order to achieve a 5 or 6 star rating, the quality of the meal must be known.
- In order to achieve a 6 star rating, the “Whole Fish’ (or whole animal) must be used, either in meal form or in sufficient quantities outside of meal form.
- Inclusion of sufficient quantities of preferred plant proteins is a bonus with sufficient Spirulina content being a significant bonus.
- Use of prebiotics or probiotics is a bonus