Animal Meat By-Products in Pet food. Are they bad?

Animal By-Products are they bad for your pet???

We live in a world of rapid dissemination of information, and one in which biased parties use misinformation to mislead the public for marketing, political, or other malicious reasons.  Recently the internet, and pet food marketing is full of statements that would make us think that pet foods, whose ingredients list animal by-products (listed as beef, pork, or chicken by-product or by-product meal) are inferior and some way bad for our pets.

The truth is that animal by-products basically are produced by very nutritious parts of animals slaughtered for human consumption, that affluent Americans just choose not to eat.  They contain things like pancreas, spleen, kidneys, cleaned stomachs and intestines, which are considered good food by humans in much of the world, and are some of the most nutrient rich sources of food available.  These ingredients may sound "yucky" to Americans that have grown up in a world of skinless boneless chicken breasts but are eaten by people in all other cultures including some right here in the united states.  Think of things like "chittlins", shepherd pie, hagas, and may types of sausages.

Since most Americans are inclined not to eat these anymore (your grandfather did happily), there is an abundance of very highly nutritious product from the slaughter house that would just be wasted, but can be purchased inexpensively by pet food companies to add to your pets food.   Most of the highly reputable companies like Science Diet, Purina, Iams and Royal Canin include these products with meat and other valuable nutrients to create very high quality balanced pet foods.  These companies do considerable research on all their formulations to make sure they provide balanced diets for you pets.

Many false statements are made regarding these products by fad pet food companies like Blue Buffalo, to make you think that their product is better for your pet and charge you more money than the others for it.  Most of these newer companies are just marketing companies and do not even have research departments, and have no scientific basis for their claims.  The reputable companies previously mentioned have very large research and development departments and can back almost all of their claims.

Contrary to what a sales person claimed in the pet store or something you read online, by-products do not contain road-kill, animals that died before slaughter.  Many sources state this as gospel but it is categorically untrue.  The official AAFCO definition, which is the legal document by which pet foods must label their ingredients is as follows: 9.3 Meat by-products is the non rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but not limited to, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially defatted low temperature fatty tissue, and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, horns, teeth and hoofs. It shall be suitable for use in animal food. If it bears name descriptive of its kind, it must correspond thereto. (Proposed 1973, Adopted 1974, Amended 1978)

There is absolutely nothing in this that is harmful, and in almost all cases is actually superior in nutritional value to "meat".  When selecting a pet food please do not rely on fad consumer marketing or the advise of pet store personel whose job it is to increase store revenue by selling you a more expensive product.  Staying with the long term high reputable pet food companies, is more likely to serve you better in the long run and save you money

Dr. Bob Mason

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