The lengths some pet food companies will go to camouflage a pet food ingredient; if it wasn’t so ridiculous, it would be funny.
There are several pet food ingredients that if you knew exactly what they were, it would probably send you running. It’s sort of like what people say about bologna, ‘if you knew what went into it…’ – times ten. The bigger problem is that only a handful of individuals (rendering industry employees) really know what goes into popular pet food ingredients such as by-product meal, meat and bone meal, beef and bone meal, animal fat, and animal digest; and they’re not talking.
The rendering industry turns the nastiest garbage into sellable products; pet food is one of the biggest purchasers. Since the deadly 2007 deadly pet food recall, many pet owners have learned to read the ingredient list on their pet foods and treats and to avoid less than high quality ingredients. In response to increased public awareness, some pet food companies are camouflaging less than optimal ingredients by adding descriptive terms. If their tricks weren’t so ridiculous, they would be funny.
The FDA website provides a report titled ‘Report on the risk from pentobarbital in dog food’. Briefly, in the late 1990’s the FDA, under pressure from practicing veterinarians, tested dog foods (no cat foods were tested) to determine if they contained pentobarbital (the drug used to euthanize animals). Their findings were that many popular dog foods do indeed contain pentobarbital, thus these popular pet foods contain some type of euthanized animal. The FDA determined that the common pet food ingredients ‘Meat and Bone Meal’, ‘Beef and Bone Meal’, ‘Animal Fat’, and ‘Animal Digest’ appeared to be the link to the presence of pentobarbital.
You’d think that after the FDA report was published in 2002, every pet food manufacturer that used these ingredients would change their formulations utilizing a seemingly safer ingredient or at the very least provide pet owners with certified laboratory tests on their websites proving that their pentobarbital suspect ingredients are clean of the lethal drug. You’d think that, but that’s not the case.
Instead, many pet food manufacturers, many of the top selling brands in the U.S., continue to use meat and bone meal, beef and bone meal, animal fat, and/or animal digest in their pet foods and treats; choosing to ignore the FDA research and as well choosing not to provide their customers with any ingredient safety information.
However, one popular dog food manufacturer has decided to add pleasant descriptive language on their ingredient list following one of the FDA recognized pentobarbital suspect ingredient animal digest.
On the label of one variety of dog food, the ingredient list states “animal digest (source of chicken flavor)”. On another variety of dog food, the ingredient list states “animal digest (source of grilled flavor)”. It’s difficult to imagine that a diseased euthanized animal, ground up into tiny pieces, thrown into a large vat and cooked with other euthanized diseased animals could be a source of any flavor – never the less to provide multiple flavors like ‘chicken’ and ‘grilled flavor’.
We have to assume that since large corporations don’t do anything without substantial consumer research, they learned that consumers felt the words ‘animal digest’ alone sounded a bit offensive. We can guess that consumer research told them “animal digest (source of chicken flavor)” and “animal digest (source of grilled flavor)” sounded much more appealing. We also have to assume that this pet food company feels that as long as these descriptive terms sell dog food, who cares if it’s stretching the truth and who care’s if this ingredient might contain a euthanized animal.
So if you notice on your pet food or pet treat label ‘chicken flavor’ or ‘grilled flavor’, you might want to check the ingredient list to see if it contains anything on the FDA list of pentobarbital suspect ingredients. The ‘mystery meat’ flavoring might not be what you want to feed your dog or cat.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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