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

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