Tuesday, November 27, 2012

By - Products

I enjoy reading several online articles, blogs, and Journals and even edit for a Journal.  Recently, one of my favorite authors made me a little crabby as it came to an article she wrote in reference to by-products and organ meats.  I will start by saying I agree with this author 90% of the time; however, this time, I found myself a bit irriated as what she wrote was very misleading.  Of course the defininitions of ingredients themselves are totally misleading which is partly to blame. 

Because I truly hate things taken out of context, I'm sharing the link of her article and the one she referenced.  Dr. Greg Aldrich wrote this one for Petfood Industry: http://www.petfoodindustry.com/Sub_Level_-_News/46921.html
In turn, Dr. Becker wrote this one: http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2012/11/21/organ-meats.aspx

If you read them both, you will definitely understand who their respective audiences are.  Dr. Aldrich writes for the Industry and he has forgotten more information about petfood ingredients than most people know all together.  I consider him the leading expert without doubt when it comes to ingredients and I have saught his expertise numerous times. 

I struggled with Dr. Becker's article because I am very sensitive to the use of "by-products" and also to their bad name.  I have recently been working with a human meat company who is desperately wanting to increase the value of the animal they harvest by better utilizing the "parts" they don't use in the human product they make.  This accounts for approximately 40% of the weight of the animal. Not only do I appreciate that perspective from a financial standpoint, more importantly I appreciate that from a simple resource standpoint.  Our food supply on this planet is not without limit and determining ways to utilize as much of the animals and plants we harvest is absolutely a necessary part of our futures. 

I was taken on a tour of the processing plant about a year ago to see the entire process and the "parts" they were concerned about.  I watched from the time the animals were unloaded to the time everything was chilled and boxed.  Throughout the process, "parts" disappeared on a conveyor belt and I repeatedly asked "where is that going?".  The answer was always the same...to rendering.  These parts included trachea, organs, ears, and bones...all of which I wanted for our carnivores at the zoo. That day I had the plant manager box up samples of those "by-products" and when I delivered the boxes to our cat zoo-keepers, you would have thought it was Christmas morning. 

Since then, our lab analyzed over 27 different "by-products" for their nutrients and created a raw meat diet for zoo carnivores that contains more than 40% of these unwanted by-products.  In our fisrt feeding and digestibility trial with African wildcats, not only was it more palatable than our typical raw meat diet, the protein and fat were better digested.

The part of Dr. Becker's article that made me so crabby was in the below statement regarding rendered proteins. Not all rendered proteins are the same, the process is the same but what consitutes the raw product is very different.  There is a HUGE difference between something labeled as Chicken Meal vs. Chicken By-Product Meal vs. Poultry By-Product Meal vs. Meat and Bone Meal.  Dr. Becker basically lumped them all together as "rendered proteins" and that's not at all accurate and Dr. Aldrich would agree. 

Dr. Becker writes:
"The rendering process involves combining “raw product” sourced from meat slaughtering and processing plants; dead animals from farms, ranches, feedlots, marketing barns, animal shelters, and other facilities; and fats, grease, and other food waste from restaurants and stores.
The “raw product” mixture is cooked at high temperatures, the moisture is removed, and then it’s pulverized into a powdery material known as meat and bone meal. Along the way, most of the grease is skimmed away, and excess hair and large bone chips are removed from the powder. So while a given mix of rendered protein may contain organ meats (that were much more nutritious before being exposed to extremely high heat and other processing methods), it’s just as likely to contain bits and pieces of nasty items like beaks, feathers, feet, hooves, hair, tumors, and who knows what else."

She is absolutely correct if she is describing Meat and Bone Meal but certainly not meat by-products.

Here is the AAFCO definition of Meat By-Products = non-rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered animals. It includes, but is not limited to lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, fatty tissue, stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, horns, feathers, hooves, teeth. "Meals" are the rendered versions of the above.

If you take that a step further for respective species such as beef by-products or chicken by-products then you narrow that definition more to just that species. 

In my opinion there is absolutely no room in my pet's diets for Meat and Bone Meal or any other meal for that matter where I cannot identify the species I'm feeding.  However, I have no issue with feeding "by-products" or "by-product meals" as long as I can identify the species from which they came. 

If you are interested in hearing Dr. Aldrich speak directly about ingredients, I encourage you to attend a free Webinar that he will be giving this Thursday, November 29, at 7 PM.  You can join me next Thursday for a free webinar on raw meat diets.  http://www.extension.org/pages/66260/free-canine-nutrition-webinars

Monday, November 12, 2012

Puppies and puppy foods

I have to admit that the transition to faculty at Iowa State University and teaching a course right off the bat have taken a toll on keeping up with blogging.  It's definitely enjoyable but I don't believe my students find diet formulation nearly as fun and entertaining as I do. 

To add to the drama in my life, in late September, I offered to foster a smooth coat border collie puppy from a rescue in MN. Middle of last month, I finally admitted that I was in love with the little worm and we told him he could stay with us forever.  His name is Ace.

Ace is my pal and has been our side kick at the recent agility trials.  Of course he has found these outings to be a blast and has developed some fantastic new agility friends.  In one of the romps last weekend, the conversation of puppy foods popped up.  This always is one of those areas that I believe likely to be the most frustrating for new puppy owners.  Not only are new owners bombarded with hundreds of diets, but they also are swarmed with opinions of well meaning breeders, friends, and other owners. 

With any growing animal, many factors play a role in the optimal development of that animal into a healthy, thriving adult, including diet and nutrition, genetics, structure, and overall health.  Often I find that many of the opinions that get translated to puppy owners come from people that fail to account for all the factors that affect our puppy's development.  Instead, nutrition and diet nearly always get blamed.  So, I decided to do some comparisons of foods this week. 

I chose 6 foods: Canidae (for all life stages), Orijen Puppy, Orijen Large Breed Puppy, Wellness Large Breed Puppy, Wellness Puppy, and Taste of the Wild Puppy.  In addition, I chose to use Ace as a model but also looked up some weights from my Toy Fox Terrier girls when they were 14 - 16 weeks old, and also selected to include a large breed puppy example. 

The first thing we have to address is energy requirements of our puppies and that is why I selected to use 3 very different puppies.  The energy requirement of a puppy over 14 weeks of age is set by some fancy mathematical equations that go way beyond inclusion in this blog. I made my students deal with the math this week and I don't think they liked me for it.  Long story short, we have to consider our puppy's current body weight and their estimated body weight as an adult. Based on these, I calculated the requirements for energy at 275, 1,000 and 1,400 Kcal daily for the Toy Fox Terrier, Ace, and the Large Breed Puppy (LBP), respectively. 

Now the fun begins.  All of the nutrient requirements that are established for dogs and puppies are relative to their individual energy requirements.  So, I can't just look at the amount in the book or on the bag and assume it's OK. I actually have to determine how much the puppy is actually going to need of that particular food and then calculate the amount of each nutrient supplied from it.

Once I met each puppy's requirement for energy, I looked at Calcium and Phosphorus.  This is where things get kind of ugly.  When we hear conversations such as "too much protein", or "too many calories" in regard to puppy foods, it's typically misunderstood why that is an issue.  Very calorically dense foods, require less intake...that makes sense...now multiply that lower intake by the nutrient content of the food and suddenly we are getting less nutrient.  This isn't as big an issue for the toy puppy that reaches adult body weight much quicker, as it is for the large breed puppy that takes longer to mature. That seems very reasonable until you consider the high quality products most of us are purchasing and then things get totally confusing because suddenly, protein is excessive in all of them.

The Canidae product supplied 33% more protein than the puppies needed but it fell short by 3 and 12%, respectively for Calcium and Phosphorus.  

Now, the 2 Orijen Products: the Large Breed Puppy product supplied over 155% of the LBP's protein requirement and more than 60% and 53% of the Calcium and Phosphorus requirements, respectively.  This holds true also for the other 2 puppies.  The Orijen Regular Puppy food is better but still supplies 120, 28 and 25% of the puppy's requirements for Protein, Calcium and Phosphorus, respectively.  Obviously, protein in these types of foods is not going to be an issue.  Oversupplementation is the issue.

The Wellness Large Breed puppy was only 67% over on Protein and 13.5% for both Calcium and Phosphorus.  I liked this a good deal because they were both balanced very well and not horribly excessive.  The Regular Wellness Puppy was similar in Protein, but was only 5% over on Calcium and Phosphorus for the LBP example. 

Lastly, Taste of the Wild Puppy was 75% over on Protein and 28% over on Calcium and 10% over on Phosphorus. 

What does all this mean? Well, first let's factor in how much of each food we'd have to feed our Large Breed puppy to meet those energy requirements: 353, 430, 350, 415, 385 and 400 grams per day of Canidae, Orijen LB, Orijen Puppy, Wellness LB, Wellness Puppy and TOW Puppy with daily costs of $0.96, $2.28, $1.87, $1.78, $1.52, and $1.58, respectively.  I am not saying at all that cost is the most important thing, the point is, the most expensive diets here both supply excessive amounts of nutrients and while I love Orijen for adult agility dogs, I would not feed either of those products to any of the puppy examples. 

Although Ace gets a raw diet that I formulate, he also gets Wellness Puppy and Taste of the Wild Puppy, which from these examples are definitely my favorite 2 choices from my selections for all 3 puppy types.  I would feed the Wellness LB product to any of the puppy examples, including the Toy; however, it's more expensive per day and I actually have to feed more of it to reach their energy requirements.

Obviously every food is different, and the energy requirements of every puppy are different.  Petfood companies are challenged with trying to find a happy medium to supply nutrients in a palatable, high quality product.  I have a handy little spreadsheet to calculate these numbers for me.  If you are feeding a puppy and want an estimate of their nutrient requirements along with how your selected food or foods stack up against your individual puppy's requirements, don't hesitate to contact me. 

Ace has been busy while I've blogged.   Enjoy them...they grow up too darn fast!!!!!