What’s really in pet food?

May 24, 2007 | By | 1 Reply More

Interesting article from Salon.com.  The bottom line is that you’re not going to find a lot of the kind of meat you’d buy for your own consumption at a grocery store.   Yes, there is a reason that you can get a huge bag of dog food for not a lot of money:

Traditionally, much of the protein in pet food comes from animal byproducts. The pet food industry nicely parallels the human agricultural industry, providing a convenient way for food producers to use up the spleens and bones and chicken feet that American consumers don’t have the palate for. Even diseased and dying animals are allowed in pet food, as long as they’re processed in such a way to destroy any microorganisms, Syverson says. All of those myriad pieces and parts end up as appetizing ingredients like “poultry byproduct meal,” “meat-and-bone meal,” and “animal digests.”

Pet food is also a handy way for meat processors to get rid of brains and spines from cows and sheep — the parts with a high risk of housing prions, the rogue proteins that cause bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease. While such parts are banned from human foods and from animal feed intended for cows and other ruminants, they’re A-OK for the family pet . . .

The good news for pets and owners is that animal byproducts in pet food may not be as gruesome as feared. For years the pet food industry has been, well, dogged by persistent rumors that meat from horses and from euthanized cats and dogs finds its way into pet food. “They do not use horse meat,” Ekedahl says, and “as a condition of membership, [Pet Food Institute members] affirm that none of their rendered material will contain cats and dogs. The public just wouldn’t stand for it.”

So we’re probably not feeding cats and dogs to our cats and dogs. Of course, a quick glance at the ingredient lists of that Dog Chow (and most other major brands) reveals that much of the protein doesn’t come from animals at all. “Glutens and soybeans and rice protein concentrate — those are cheap substitutes for real meat,” Hofve says.

It’s not as bad as I thought, but it reminds me of those gruesome songs some of us sang as kids.

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About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. grumpypilgrim says:

    This post reminds me of the apocalyptic movie from the 1970s, "Soylent Green."

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