Challenges of pet nutrition the focus of international symposium

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The Waltham International Nutritional Sciences Symposium wrapped up three days of sessions Sept. 18 in Cambridge, England.

The 30-year-old forum brought together some 250 researchers from around the world to discuss advances in fundamental and applied pet nutrition, pet food safety, and weight management.

Participants were offered scores of presentations on subjects such as the effects of diet on intestinal bacteria, the potential for enhancing a cat's immune system by dietary supplements, the association between vitamin D and certain tumors in Labrador Retrievers, and the problems that diets consisting of bones and raw foods can present for dogs.

Two themed sessions were offered. The first explored the challenges in developing nutritional guidelines for pets. Topics included methods for setting recommended daily allowances and identifying tolerable upper limits for dietary elements; the difference between what can be measured in the laboratory and how that translates into the real world; and who is actually involved in putting together nutritional guidelines and who pays for developing them.

The second session set out issues related to food safety in the pet food industry, analyzing such concerns as how to manage the supply chain and prevent contamination, the growing demand for more robust pet food safety guidelines, and the difficulties associated with introducing novel ingredients and production processes.

More than 60 poster presentations outlining research conducted by academic institutions and the industry were also available during the forum.