I ran across this information while I was researching something else, but I thought it was important to share this with you. With the recent melamine scare in our pet foods, this should help bring to light what also is in your pet's food.
Most commercial pet food ingredients all start at the rendering plant, where carcasses of various dead animals are rendered into a by-product that is used primarily for animal and pet feed. What goes into this mix? Well, downed farm animals, dead laboratory animals, what's left over after slaughter of meat and hide animals (such as heads, hoofs, bowels, diseased parts, tumors, bones, contaminated meat and the like), road kill, euthanized or dead companion animals (aka pets), restaurant grease and garbage, and pastries and meat past their pull date from grocery stores.
Given that the amount of money spent on the rendering process does not allow for simple processing of the inputs into the plant coupled with the volume being dealt with, things like flea collars, metal tags, plastic bags, pesticide ear tags from cattle, and the Styrofoam and wrappings from bad grocery store meat all get thrown into the grinder. This is also not to mention the quantities of Sodium Phenobarbital in the bodies of euthanized animals and how that survives the rendering process. I can't imagine these things can be good for your pet in any amount.
When you see the upscale "real meat" stamped proudly on the side of your bag of pet food, they are not referring to the happy chunks of meat that are shown on the packaging and in commercials. Real meat, as defined by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), is anything but that.
What you are getting in "real meat" is the "flesh derived from slaughtered mammals and is limited to that part of the striate muscle that is skeletal or that which is found in the tongue, diaphragm, heart, or esophagus; with or without the accompanying and overlying fat and the portions of the skin, sinew, nerve, and blood vessels that normally accompany the flesh." Meat by-products are pretty much what's left that wasn't included in that list. Basically, anything listed as "by-product" or "meal" is generally bottom of the barrel material and probably inedible, at that.
As for what is listed as "lamb" or "chicken", the AAFCO allows the rendering plant to call whatever the dominant amount of animal is in that run. Say, for example, that 20% of a run consisted of lamb parts, 15% chicken parts, 15% beef parts, 15% cat and dog carcasses, 15% grocery store refuse, 10% roadkill and 10% waste kitchen grease, that run can be legitimately called "lamb".
And it will be sold as "lamb" and packaged as such on your pet food ingredient list, even though it contains, as you can see, pretty much everything and the kitchen sink. And I'm not including the excrement and trace bits of plastic and garbage that got ground in there as well.
Finally, not all of this rendered material gets exclusively sold for pet food. It also gets sold as livestock feed used to feed the animals that are raised for human consumption.
Now, before we get into a major cracker grinding session here, let me also point out that rendering plants provide an extremely useful service without which there would be tons of rotting animal carcasses spreading diseases far and wide. So, how do we deal with the issue at hand? The rendering plants reduce the carcass burden and turn it into something less of a public health threat - at least directly. The pet food industry fills the gap of what to do with the rendered product. I can't say I could, in good faith, feed my pets this output since I've read this, but what do you do with all this junk?
Essentially, humans are mostly at fault for the necessity of rendering plants. If we didn't raise farm animals, own pets or buy meat from restaurants and grocery stores, there would be no input into this system. Any roadkill or animals dying on their own could be buried or decompose in the wild. In other words, the volume would be considerably less and more manageable.
So, is the very act that we demand meat and companion animals creating this burden on the other end that, literally, feeds back into the system? Rendered products feed livestock and pets which is turn get rendered into feeding more livestock and pets, ad nauseum. It's easy enough to say that we should demand that our livestock and pet food be human quality feed, but then what do we do with the output of the rendering plants? The only way I can see a solution to this problem is to reduce the inputs.
Does anyone have any other ideas on how to solve this problem? Has this changed your perception of the pet foods you purchase?
Food Pets Die For
Protect Your Pet