Its in the bag,pet food information
Its in the bag,pet food information
The time has come to provide you with a
little more detailed information that may help you to make an informed decision
with respect to the "convenience" of commercial food versus the
"work" involved in preparing your own pet food.
Caution: If you have a weak stomach,
skip this article!
IT'S IN THE BAG
Obviously there are millions and
millions of pounds of pet food sold in bags and cans every year. Did you ever
wonder where they get their "meat" and "fat" from? Do you re
ally think they have their own ranches or farms to raise their own raw
material? Of course not! They look to the many rendering plants across the
nation to provide them with the tonnage they require on a regular basis.
In the previous article (Food for
Thought we did mention the quantity of pets shipped to rendering factories
to be recycled and used in pet food. However I left it to your imag-ination to
visualize what goes on in a rendering facility. Let me provide you with a few
details to assist the imagery!
Firstly let me say that I am glad that
these facilities do exist. Without them our cities would run the risk of
becoming filled with diseased and rotting carcasses. It's a dirty job that
someone has to do. Before World War 11, most slaughter houses looked after their
own rendering. After the war, the rendering of slaughter waste became a separate
specialty. Consequently the rendering plants were no longer subject to most of
the federal inspection regulations associated with meat processing. Thus today
we find that the industry is largely self regulated and out of the "public
To even begin to understand this
industry we must first look at the "raw material" as it is received at
the plant. The slaughterhouse for animal carcasses is one of the main suppliers
of material to the rendering industry. To prevent condemned meat from being
rerouted and used for human consumption, government regulations require that the
meat be "denatured" before being sent to the rendering plant. Nice
word, but what does that mean?
Basically it means that first it must
be contaminated in some way that would make it virtually unusable for human
consumption. Some of the materials used to accomplish this task are: carbolic
acid, creosote, fuel oil, kerosene, citronella, etc. Once this stuff has
literally soaked into the meat, it's then fit to be sent on to the rendering
Another prime source of raw material is
the veterinary community. Not only are dogs and cats received in nice little
green plastic bags, but also raccoons, possums, deer, foxes, snakes, etc., etc.
Of course we can't forget the grocery
industry, that must somehow get rid of the spoiled meat cuts that are no longer
salable and the fat, bones, etc. that we (at home) would consider garbage.
So inside the rendering plant we find
the floor piled high with "raw product" consisting of a mixture of
whole bodies and animal parts, plastic bags, styrofoam packages, metal tags, pet
collars--anything and everything that is considered to be "waste"--but
suitable for recycling.
"Rendering" is the process of
cooking raw animal material to remove the moisture and fat. Let's take a closer
look at how this is actually done.
Inside the plant we find masked men
(because of the stench of rotting carcasses) operating mini-bulldozers, loading
the "raw" material into a 10 foot deep stainless steel pit. At the
bottom of the pit, a giant auger-grinder begins to turn. This converts the mass
material into smaller, more manageable chunks. From there it is transported to
another auger for fine shredding.
Now you have to realize that this is a
business and like any other business, they have to cut costs wherever possible.
Consequently they do not bother to take the time to remove the flea collars from
pets, the pesticide car tags from cattle, the plastic bags, styrofoam packaging,
etc. etc. All is grist for the grinder! Just push it in with the bulldozer.
This mass of goop is then cooked at 280
degrees for one hour. During the cooking process the goop produces a layer of
yellow grease or tallow that rises to the top and is skimmed off. The cooked
meat and bone (along with whatever metal, pesticides, etc.) are sent to a
hammermill press, which squeezes out the remaining moisture and pulverizes the
product into a gritty powder. Once the batch is finished, all that is left is
yellow grease, "meat" and bone meal. This continuous batch cooking
process goes on non-stop, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, grinding out ton
after ton of salable product.
Depending on the dominant ingredient
of a particular run, the product now becomes: beef, chicken, lamb, meat
meal, meat by-products, poultry meal, fish meal, fish oil, yellow grease,
tallow, beef fat, chicken fat, etc.
Never is it labeled, dog meal, cat
meal, skunk meal rat meal, or any of the "other" goodies that get
mixed in with the everyday batches of "raw material".
Although this processing effectively
kills off any beneficial enzymes, it does not get rid of the sodium
phenobarbital in the carcasses of euthanized animals. The potential of other
chemical contaminants to be degraded by the rendering process is also highly
questionable. Perhaps instead of calling them rendering plants it would be more
appropriate to call them "toxic waste" recycling plants.
Need we say who are some of the biggest
customers of the finished product? You got it-the pet food companies. The
primary source of meat and fat in commercial pet food is from this endless
process of rendering.
The scary part is that millions of tons
of this "food enhancer" is also trucked to poultry ranches, cattle
feed lots, dairy and hog farms, fish feed plants, etc. where it is mixed with
other ingredients to feed animals and fish that humans will eat.
By the time the pet food boys get
through adding their own "enhancers" (i.e. preservatives, food dye,
synthetic vitamins,) who really knows what's in the bag?
One of the most common problems I hear
about is food allergies. Breeders switch from one brand to another, from beef to
lamb, from grain to rice, etc. and find themselves frustrated at not being able
to solve the problem. Things may seem to go well for a time and then the same
old thing happens all over again.
Changing to lamb from beef would appear
to be a logical thing to try, but how on earth do you really know just what you
are really getting? Let me give you a hypothetical example of what could he in a
run of "lamb" from the rendering plant and still legally be labeled as
If we were to bulldoze into the pit,
say 25% of lamb parts, mix with 20% beef, 20% chicken, say 15% dogs or cats, and
say a mixture of 20% of various road kill animal carcasses, we can say that the
dominant ingredient of this -run is lamb. (For this example we will ignore the %
of plastic, metal, styrofoam, insecticide, etc.--all to small to affect the
As long as the rendering plant does not
misrepresent the % of protein or fat or calcium, etc., they are legitimately
entitled to sell the run to you favorite pet food manufacturer as
By the way, I should mention that the
fat sold by the rendering industry does not all come from animals. Thanks to the
proliferation of fast food restaurants, nearly half of the "raw
material" is waste kitchen grease and frying oil cleaned out of the traps
on a regular basis (another industry all of its own). Again, the pet food people
rely on this source for the fat that is usually sprayed on the kibble at the end
of the drying process.
Once you understand just what really
goes into producing a commercial pet food, you can't really be surprised to
learn that many of the health problems we see in our companion animals are
directly attributable to a lack of proper nutrition.
When someone asks me "aren't you
afraid of salmonella or contamination in the raw meat you use?", I only
wish I could take them out to a rendering facility and show them just how bad
the commercial goop can be! Never again would they buy a bag or can of pet food
without reauing just what they are really doing. Never again would they have any
fear of using "fresh" meat in place of what the industry laughingly
calls food for pets.
For any of you that have not yet
switched to a raw diet, I would urge you to go back and read "Food for
Thought", in conjunction with this article. By doing this you should have
enough basic information to make a fundamental decision on the type of diet you
choose to use for your animals.
As we move into the 21st century maybe
it's time we turned the clock back a hundred years and got back to some basic