Educated pet owners tend to get cold chills when the words rendered ingredients are spoken in reference to dog food or cat food. However, not all rendered pet food ingredients are risky, worthy of cold chills.
The Rendering Industry, for those that are aware of its existence, tends to make a person squeamish when you think about it. Known as ‘the Original Recyclers’, the Rendering Industry takes in just about every disgusting leftover of human food processing and recycles ‘it’ into sellable goods including some pet food ingredients. In March of 2008, TruthaboutPetFood published a first hand experience of one rendering facility; it was a horrific insider look into animal rendering (http://www.truthaboutpetfood.com/articles/290/1/Pet-Food-Ingredients-By-Product-Meal-Meat-and-Bone-Meal-Animal-Fatwhats-in-there/Page1.html). However, what many pet owners don’t realize, the pet food ingredient ‘chicken meal’, known to provide a higher percentage of protein than many animal protein ingredients, is also ‘rendered’. While some rendering facilities ‘recycle’ otherwise useless trash into sellable goods, other rendering facilities (typically associated with slaughter facilities) turn human grade/quality meats into pet food ingredient meat meals.
The definition of render is “to reduce, convert, or melt down by heating.” It comes from ‘Old French rendere, to give back’. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/render The logic behind rendering chicken meat is to remove the moisture. All meats contain a high amount of moisture, averaging 60%. Pet food ingredients are listed in order of pre-cooking weight; heaviest to lightest. Taking into consideration the added weight of moisture in meat, the pet food ingredient chicken meal provides more protein by weight than does the ingredient chicken. As example, a pound of chicken meal provides a great deal more protein percentage than does a pound of chicken (60% of that pound of chicken is only moisture – not protein).
AAFCO defines poultry meal as: “Poultry meal is the dry rendered product from a combination of clean flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from the parts of whole carcasses of poultry or a combination thereof, exclusive of feathers, heads, feet, and entrails. It shall be suitable for use in animal food. If it bears a name descriptive of its kind, it must correspond thereto.” The last sentence refers to different types of poultry meals, such as chicken meal, duck meal, and so on.
Chicken meal is rendered, cooked, to remove moisture. Chicken meal can, by ingredient definition, include bone, skin, and internal organs; or it can consist of cooked muscle meat only. However, either way, it is rendered.
Rendered pet food ingredients are NOT all risk ingredients. The rendering process could be a way to sell a slurry of disgusting, diseased animals and animal parts; or it could be a way to provide a pet food ingredient that is high in quality and protein.
The old saying, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’, most certainly fits with pet food and with rendering. Don’t judge a pet food by its label and advertising, call the manufacturer and ask the tough questions (country of origin of ingredients, and grade or quality of ingredients for starters). Furthermore, don’t determine that all rendered products are potential risks. After all, the motherly ‘cure all’ chicken soup, is also rendered.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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