Most pet lovers are convinced that the “healthy,” “natural,” “premium,” and “recommended by” labels on pet food must mean that the food inside the bag is good for their pets. Think about it. Are you feeding your pets the same dry grain-based diets day in and day out?
Pet food manufacturers place images of fresh-cut chicken breast, fish, fruits and vegetables and wholesome grains on their packages, yet this is rarely what is actually inside the bag.
Let’s examine pet food ingredients.
Byproducts: Byproducts are left over wastes from human food production. Byproducts come in two forms: named and un-named. Examples of named byproducts include “chicken byproducts” and “pork byproducts”.
As defined by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), the organization that creates guidelines for livestock feed and pet food, “chicken byproduct meal consists of the ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered chicken, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidably in good processing practice.”
Animal fat: Un-named “animal fat”, as defined by the AAFCO is “is obtained from the tissues of mammals and/or poultry in the commercial processes of rendering or extracting. It consists predominantly of glyceride esters of fatty acids and contains no additions of free fatty acids.
Meat meal: As defined by AAFCO, “meat meal consists of the rendered product from mammal tissues, exclusive of blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices.”
Meat and bone meal: The rendered product from mammal tissues, including bone, exclusive of blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents, except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices.
At the rendering plant, slaughterhouse material, restaurant and supermarket refuse, deadstock, roadkill, and euthanized companion animals are dumped into huge containers.
I’m not kidding. Whole carcasses of diseased animals, cats and dogs from shelters, zoo animals, roadkill and expired meat from grocery store shelves all end up in the grinder. A machine slowly grinds the entire mess. After it is chipped or shredded, it is cooked at high temperatures for 20 minutes to one hour. The grease or tallow rises to the top, where it is removed from the mixture. This is the source of animal fat in most pet foods. The remaining material, the raw, is then put into a press where the moisture is squeezed out. We now have meat and bone meal.
Corn, corn meal, or corn gluten meal: Pet food manufacturers know that pets, like their owners, adore the sweet taste of corn. Corn is one of the cheapest crops to buy and therefore an attractive ingredient for pet food.
The gluten in corn is used as an inferior protein source in pet foods. Corn protein in itself is not a complete protein source and must be balanced with animal proteins to create a usable amino acid profile for pets.
Unfortunately, corn is often abused as the single most abundant ingredient in many pet foods, contributing to the many diseases linked to high carbohydrate diets, including obesity, chronic inflammation, diabetes and cancer.
The quality of the corn is also a problem as many pet foods use low-quality corn containing toxins including mycotoxins and mould which cause damage to a pet’s liver and kidneys.
Wheat: Wheat is another ingredient found in abundance in many pet foods. This is another starchy crop that should be avoided. Wheat gluten is also used as an inexpensive protein source in pet foods.
Soy: Along with corn and wheat, soy is one of the most common allergens in companion animals. Carnivores were never meant to eat soy; it is commonly used in pet food as an inexpensive substitute for meat protein.
Powdered cellulose, dried beet pulp: Nothing more than 100% filler. Powdered cellulose is purified, mechanically disintegrated cellulose prepared by processing alpha cellulose obtained as a pulp from fibrous plant material.
Dried beet pulp is the left over residue from the extraction of sugar in the production of table sugar.
Chemical preservatives are added to this so-called pet food. That is supposed to make it edible for pets. Scary, isn’t it? That’s why I always make home-cooked meals for my barn cats to supplement when mice are not always plentiful.
Maynard van der Galien has been writing columns for 30 years.