Jul 14, 2009
William Shakespeare wrote "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet". This quote hit me today as being applicable to our next topic of pet food myths.
I am not sure if I will get more comments on today’s blog than I did on the last one in which we reviewed the myth of corn allergies and corn being bad for pets. Today, we are going to tackle the infamously and unfortunately named “BY PRODUCTS”. (Cue intense music soundtrack). So, to paraphrase William "what's in a name, would by proudcts cause as much disgust by any other name?"
People hate the term “by-products”. It conjures up disgusting and gory images straight out of some low budget horror film. The truth of the matter though is that by products simply refers to the parts of the poultry or meat source that the human food industry is not using. Before we go any further, let’s look at the two definitions of by products from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO):
Meat By-Products: the non-rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is 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.
Poultry By-Products: must consist of non-rendered clean parts of carcasses of slaughtered poultry such as heads, feet, viscera, free from fecal content and foreign matter except in such trace amounts as might occur unavoidably in good factory practice.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I see some pretty nutritious stuff in these definitions. Weren’t you told as a kid that you should eat liver to help you grow?
One of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies (The Highlander) has Christopher Lambert describing haggis to Sean Connery. After Connery questions what haggis is, Lambert replies “sheep’s stomach stuffed with meat and barley”. Connery replies “how revolting” and dumps Lambert into the lake. I bring this up because it is not uncommon in human culture to also partake of these “by-products” yet other cultures may find them less than palatable.
What we have to remember when dealing with our pet’s nutrition is that our aesthetics (what seems tasty or pleasing to us) is in no way associated with how nutritious the ingredient might be.
As I mentioned to a poster in our other forum, pets need NUTRIENTS, not specific ingredients. The most important issue is can the food (and the ingredients within the food) deliver the appropriate type and amounts of amino acids, fatty acids, carbohydrates, etc to the pet in a form that is highly digestible and the pet finds acceptable?
Millions of pets and pet owners have determined, meat and poultry by-products can provide their pets with a great source of protein and they are often as palatable, sometimes more so, than “true” meat sources (i.e. skeletal meat). In other words, it really doesn’t matter what the label says is IN the food, it matters what the animal gets OUT of the food (digestibility and quality of life).
Even if the above arguments don’t convince you, maybe this one will. We know that many cows, pigs, chickens, etc will go to slaughter each year to feed humans. What should be done with all of the “by products” if they aren’t used in pet food? If we don’t use the “by products”, will we need to slaughter even more animals to feed our pets? To me, and this is my opinion, we are better off using as much of each individual animal as we can in order to save waste and other animals’ lives.
So, now it’s your turn…tell me what you think.