Look at the rice in your pantry. Each grain looks perfect, right?
It might surprise you to learn that’s because all the small, broken pieces have been removed. Those broken pieces of rice are called brewers rice.
Brewers rice refers to white rice that has become damaged during the manufacturing process and broken into smaller pieces. These tiny pieces of rice are sifted out and sold as a separate product – brewers rice.
Because these broken pieces of rice are not pleasant to look at, rice brands don’t sell them to humans.
Instead, brewers rice is sold to pet food companies and beer brewers. In fact, that’s where brewers rice gets its name from. Brewers rice is traditionally used as an ingredient for brewing beer, and is commonly found in gluten-free beers.1
The AAFCO has recognized brewers rice as a dog food ingredient since 1960.
Brewers rice is made up of white rice only. Brown rice
Is brewers rice an inferior ingredient?
While doing your research online, you may have stumbled across the myth that brewers rice is an inferior ingredient – there are plenty of sites make this claim.2
However, for this to be true, then white rice itself would also need to be considered an inferior ingredient – as brewers rice is just white rice, but smaller pieces.
Another myth is that brewers rice is floor sweepings, and contains dust. However, this would make it ineligible to be used as a beer brewing ingredient for humans.
Part of the reason for the misunderstanding may be that brewers rice isn’t typically eaten by humans here in America. However, this isn’t unusual in Asian countries where broken rice pieces are are sold as a cheaper alternative to the white rice you recognize.
Brewers rice may be cheaper than regular rice, its not a poor quality ingredient. From a nutritional perspective, it’s basically the same.
It might surprise you to learn that brewers rice may be a preferable ingredient to white rice. All those pieces of broken white rice from the manufacturing process would otherwise be wasted.
Like with many dog food ingredients, it matters more about how brewers rice is used, and the intentions behind its addition as an ingredient.
Brewers rice contains all the pros and cons of regular rice.
Benefits of brewers rice
Rice is a good source of carbohydrate and is easily digested.
Brewers rice also contains trace amounts of potassium, protein, Iron, Vitamin B6, Magnesium. and calcium.
White rice and brewers rice are also common ingredients dog food for sensitive stomachs and is often present in vet-prescribed formulas. Because it’s bland and easy to digest, it’s less likely to cause an upset stomach or diarrhea.
Are there any concerns about using brewers rice in dog food?
Just like brewers rice shares the same benefits as white rice, it also shares the same concerns.
Firstly, you can have too much of a good thing. Brewers rice can be used as a cheap way to add bulk to dog food. Unfortunately, brewers rice is often used as a filler ingredient – to add bulk to dog food.
Ideally, unless it’s a prescription diet, you wouldn’t want to see brewers rice listed in the first few ingredients.
Especially when you consider that brewers rice contains arsenic – a toxic element that is naturally present in rice.
When the FDA tested over 1,300 samples of rice and rice related products for arsenic.3
Based on the findings, the FDA found that the arsenic levels were safe for toddlers, older children and adults – alongside a well-balanced diet.
However, unlike humans, dog’s often eat the same dog food day after day, year after year. Not exactly a balanced diet.
A more recent study explores this concept further…
The study focused on feeding dogs a rice based diet for an extended period of time. To do this, they used dog foods that contained rice as the first or second ingredient.4
At the end of the study, dogs fed the rice-based dog food showed significantly higher levels of arsenic in their hair samples than dogs that were fed food without rice.
This suggests that eating dog food containing large amounts of brewers rice for an extended period could result in dangerous levels of arsenic building up.
The recommendation from the study is to vary your dogs food regularly, swapping out dog foods for ones with different ingredients on an ongoing basis – this is known as dietary rotation, however veterinarians are split on the benefits.5Additional resourcesAssociation of American Feed Control Officials. 2021 Official Publication. Association of American Feed Control Officials Inc., 2021.