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Product: Fromm Four-Star Nutritionals Grain Free Salmon Tunalini Recipe Dog Food
Quantity: 4 lb.
Price paid: $0.00! But usually $12.99 via Mr. Chewy, who sponsored this review

Ingredients: Salmon, salmon meal, peas, potatoes, pea flour, dried tomato pomace, tuna, whole dried egg, sardine meal, anchovy meal, chicken liver, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), salmon oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), flaxseed, cheese, monocalcium phosphate, olive oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), carrots, celery, parsley, lettuce, tomatoes, spinach, zucchini, eggplant, chicken cartilage, potassium chloride, salt, chicory root extract, yucca schidigera extract, sodium selenite, folic acid, taurine, Vitamins, Minerals, Probiotics
Guaranteed analysis:

  • Protein 28% Min
  • Fat 16% Min
  • Fiber 3.5% Max
  • Moisture 10% Max
  • Total Microorganisms 100,000,000 CFU/lb Min

Country of manufacture: Wisconsin, USA (source)
Company information: Fromm Family Foods, PO Box 365, Mequon WI, 53092; Phone: 262-242-2200; Fax: 262-242-3571
Web presence: FrommFamily.com, also on Facebook

When Mr. Chewy approached us about another sponsored product review, the timing was just right. News of the widespread Diamond Pet Foods recall affecting numerous brands, including one that we feed as a regular part of our rotation, prompted many pet owners including me to seek other options. One brand that we have sampled in the past, but never used on a full trial, was Fromm.

We liked what we’ve heard about the company. The most eye-catching claim circulating online is that Fromm Family pet foods has never been involved in a recall. If this is true, I would think that the company would proudly trumpet this fact on their webpage — but I see no reference to such claim, though they are thorough and adamant about their commitment to food safety and product testing. When I wrote them asking for verification of their brilliant reputation, a company representative directed me to the FDA website. While Fromm has never been recalled since March 2007 (which is as far back as the searchable online database goes), I cannot confirm the accuracy of this zero-recall claim prior to that.

If true, it’s certainly a bright gold star worth burnishing, as the company has been around since 1904 — over a hundred years! Indeed, they do claim to be the country‘s, and “The world’s first and oldest family-owned & operated premium pet food company.” Apparently they elbowed Spratt‘s Patent, Limited (founded ca. 1860 in the UK and the 1870s in the USA) out of the chronology on a matter of specifics, since the hardtack meat biscuits manufactured by this public company weren’t exactly “premium” fare.*

In contrast, Fromm Family does strive to offer high quality fare. The Four-Star Nutritionals line is based on the idea that variety and protein rotation is beneficial to your pet’s diet, though the basic blend of fruits, vegetables, and grains (in some blends) remain the same so it’s easy to switch between recipes. I like the principle, and the consistent high reviews for their foods from other trusted sources help testify to the overall quality of the brand.

There was only one thing that held me back from trying a full bag before offered by Mr. Chewy — the presence of either chicken or beef in every recipe, even when the name of the food or the description suggests otherwise.

For example, the recipe we chose, Salmon Tunalini, contains chicken liver (tenth ingredient), chicken fat (#11), and chicken cartilage (#26) on its list of ingredients.

Fromm Salmon Tunalini

The Grain-Free Game Bird recipe, which Bowpi has tried in small amounts, leads with duck, turkey, and even quail in the top ten meats. But then the chicken pops up again as chicken meal (#11), chicken fat (#12), fresh chicken (#15), and chicken cartilage (#27). Who knew Ol’ Cluck was a game bird?

The Salmon A La Veg and Whitefish & Potato recipes both look good as well, even if they’re not grain-free. Chicken cartilage still makes an appearance at the #21 and #22 positions, respectively.

And what about Pork and Applesauce? Still rounded out with fresh chicken (#13) and chicken cartilage (#22).

(We’re not going to talk about the Beef Frittata, since we still don’t do beef at the House of Two Bows.)

Reasonably speaking, ingredients located that far down the list shouldn’t be significant, as they are listed by weight. I’m also not as concerned about my dogs reacting to a tiny bit of cartilage. But it irks me to see chicken “snuck in” like this, as this is precisely why it can be so tedious to select kibble for proper elimination diets, like when I was trying to manage Bowdu’s allergies when they were at their worst. I excluded all Fromm Family products because none of their recipes were as “limited” as I would have liked.

That’s why Fromm has never been higher on our list, at least not until now. But if your dog has no problems with chicken, it’s a great brand. In the past couple years, we’ve moved from no chicken at all to no processed chicken (raw okay) to some chicken in commercial recipes in very limited, cautious quantities. Sometimes, it’s still not okay, and sometimes, it’s fine. Luckily, this seems to be one of the times when it’s fine — everything goes in and comes out with no problems whatsoever.

A final note on packaging. It really looks fancy yet functional (impervious to leakage, resealable), no gimmicks or hard sells emblazoned across the product (a pet peeve of mine). Each bag is printed with bold colors, classy fonts, and a simple, elegant design. I also learned that the relatively small kibble size aids in minimizing packaging, probably because the pellets settle easily and pack together closer. Of course, packaging is a far lower priority than the quality of the food itself (so I see no reason to dock them points for the creepy dog-headed humanoids all over their current web designs, as weird as I think it is — to each his own!). But it’s a nice bonus when done right.

Final Grade: A

* Random sidenote, because reviews from the House of Two Bows are nothing if not arbitrary and excessive with tangential details… If Fromm wants to play the semantics game, I’d argue that they can’t really say they’ve been a pet food company since 1904 since they started by providing foods for foxes and minks. “Filled with quality proteins and quality fats, the food was healthy and good for the animals. It made their coats and stoles shinier and more valuable in the marketplace,” reads the company bio as posted on the BMO Harris Bank website. Even at the turn of the century, I don’t think most pet owners weighed the market value of their pets’ pelts (beyond sentimental worth, anyway) as a motivating factor for proper nutrition. It wasn’t until 1949 that Fromm Meal was made widely available to the pet market, and even then the qualified description is that Fromm was one of the first to offer their products in granular form.