The best of today was a sit down with AAFCO President Chad Linton and a face to face with an AAFCO member from Texas. One good, one not so good.
Ok…I was guilty. I had determined long before I stepped in the first AAFCO meeting that all AAFCO people didn’t have the best interest of pets in mind. I lumped them all into one category. My bad. What I’ve learned over the past couple of days is that many of these folks really care about doing a good job for the citizens and pet owners they represent. Many, but not all and sometimes but not all the time.
Tuesday afternoon was the Ingredient Definitions Committee meeting. At the beginning of each Committee meeting an AAFCO Representative introduces all AAFCO members of the committee and the advisory panel to the committee. My ears perked up when I heard that a representative of the Rendering Industry sat on this advisory panel.
Numerous discussions on numerous animal feed ingredients went by and then they began the discussion of a potential animal food ingredient named “Rendered Food Processing Waste”. AAFCO Representative Neil Lanning was on speaker phone (not in attendance) sharing with the audience the amount of grocery waste Walmart has. He shared that ‘they have lots of left over pizzas and Hot Pockets’. All of this talk of expired grocery food was to enable a animal food ingredient to take in this waste, render it, then sell it to animal food/pet food. That’s when the representative of the rendering industry spoke up and said ‘but we need to do something with that name’. He meant the name of the potential animal food/pet food ingredient; he meant ‘Rendered Food Processing Waste’ probably wouldn’t sell a lot of cat or dog food.
That’s when Neil Lanning, AAFCO Member (the one on the speaker phone), spoke up. He said – and I’m fairly confident this is a word for word quote – “We’ll have to come up with a term that the consumer will buy or a renderer won’t be able to sell it.”
That statement made me a little ill; it was clearly in the best interest of industry NOT the consumer. It was announced that if anyone wished to talk further on the name of this potential ingredient to please see Ali Kashina. As soon as this segment was over I made a bee-line to Mr. Kashina. He was very gracious and promised to discuss this with me on Wednesday (this was the very last meeting of the day on Tuesday).
I hadn’t been in the door one minute on Wednesday and here comes Ali Kashina (I thought it was great he found me – he followed through as promised). He handed me the business card of someone he felt I should speak with and provided me the direct phone number of Neil Lanning. The card was from Roger Hoestenbach, AAFCO representative from Texas. Ali also took me over and provided a personal introduction to Mr. Hoestenbach.
So…we talked about “Rendered Food Processing Waste”. Roger Hoestenbach quickly made a point he was a pet owner too. He and his wife have worked for years with Bloodhound rescue groups and they currently have numerous rescued Bloodhounds. But, he also kept trying to convince me that 4 D meats (dead, diseased, dying, and disabled) do not go into pet foods. I asked how he would know this and he told me it was from 30 years of inspecting plants. He said the pet food companies have too much to lose to buy garbage ingredients. He said they can afford to buy the very best and they do.
I wasn’t buying his story. He was gracious, but it was like he didn’t believe there really was FDA compliance policies that say ‘that stuff’. I assured him there was and I’d be glad to send him the policies. At that point he said we’d have to agree to disagree (two days in a row I’ve heard that agree to disagree line).
In a lunch conversation with AAFCO President Chad Linton (full details of this later), Chad stated the potential ingredient ‘Rendered Food Processing Waste’ name was not changed so far. It remains as is for now.
My thoughts that were shared with several today – if industry has nothing to hide, then why lump expired pizza and expired Hot Pockets into a kinder gentler pet food ingredient name? If industry has nothing to hide, then why not allow grade of ingredients? Allow Pet Owners to walk into any pet store and quickly see who uses USDA Grade A meat and who doesn’t.
Needless to say, no one went scurrying off ready to change the rules because of any of my statements. However, I do believe many of them listened, really listened. I don’t believe the committee meetings tomorrow are much for me to attend, instead I hope to catch up on things on my desk and write out more from my notes for all. I’ll post these soon.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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