It’s always great to see research into pet nutrition and this study does provide some interesting findings but after taking a good look through, it doesn't seem to be nearly as clear cut as presented.
The company really wanted the study to prove that raw foods, without any synthetic supplementation, can definitively provide everything a dog needs throughout his or her life. If they had been able to prove that, it would have been quite something and would have silenced at least some of the criticism raw feeding has been receiving from the veterinary community and some parts of the established ‘processed’ pet food industry.
Unfortunately though, the data didn’t really bear it out so the findings are full of caveats.
The major problem is that for 17 of the 38 nutrients tested for, one or more of the recipes failed to meet the FEDIAF guidelines. These are presumably the most 'complete' recipes the Honey's team could come up with but on the basis of this data, you could just as well argue that the study proves that these recipes do not meet FEDIAF’s criteria for complete foods.
Honey's defence is that the five recipes are intended to be rotated and therefore the diet as a whole meets the complete food criteria over time. A fair point but for me the main insight here is how much planning and how incredibly diverse a menu must be in order to meet FEDIAF's nutrient guidelines. Unfortunately, the headlines alone won't convey this information at all.
The other caveats are largely based on criticising the data that has been used to create the FEDIAF criteria in the first place. This is a worthy criticism - since there is a fundamental lack of good research on pet nutritional requirements, FEDIAF has had to piece together its guidelines from all sorts of non-ideal, often heavily flawed sources over the years. But their self imposed target was to prove that the diet met FEDIAF’s criteria so simply choosing to ignore the criteria and their own goal whenever it was convenient seems fairly counterproductive.
The second part of the study was much more positive, showing that no dogs developed any signs of nutritional deficiency when fed the 5 diets in rotation over a period of 26 weeks. A good result but, as they themselves point out, 26 weeks is really too short a period since some deficiencies can take upward of two years to manifest.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for raw feeding and I personally have no doubt that raw foods, when done right, can provide everything a dog needs without the need for synthetic supplements and I would love to have some concrete, scientific data to prove that this is the case, but I'm not sure that this study is it.