The pet food industry sums up what people think about advertising when they’re feeling especially cynical.
It’s shady, sketchy and more than a little dishonest.
Descriptions are twisted and turned. Words are left out. Others are honed to a fine edge, perfect to stick in your eye.
Does it have to be this hard?
No, it doesn’t. But this is big business, very big business. It’s estimated that last year alone, in just the United States, we spent more than $23 BILLION on pet food. So no wonder the stakes are so high when it comes to competition. Even the tiniest increase in market share can deliver hundreds of thousands of dollars to a company’s bottom line.
And it’s why pet food makers take short cuts, use the cheapest possible ingredients and hate to follow rules and regulations. They just don’t want us to know what’s in pet food.
FAIL: What’s in this food?
Unless your Morkie is a vegetarian, you’d expect to find meat in his food. But not so fast… When it comes to the source of protein, there are several things to remember.
- There’s “meat”
- There’s meat by-products, and
- There’s “meat meal”
“Meat” is the muscle that is stripped off a slaughtered animal, which can include what’s attached, such as fat, skin, sinew, nerve and blood vessels.
If a pet food says “meat” instead of the specific source of meat like beef, lamb or chicken, then beware. You don’t know where the meat has come from. It can be from animals that didn’t make it to the slaughterhouse and died on the way (The infamous 4-D meats, dead, dying, diseased and disabled.) It can be road kill. It can be other dogs, picked up after they’ve been euthanized at the pound or shelter.
Bottom line, look for the specific source of meat.
By-products are the polite word for sh*t you wouldn’t consider eating or feeding to your pet. Chicken by-products for example, include beaks, feet, the head, bones, intestines and even some feathers that stick to the rotting by-products.
Again, if the source of meat by-products isn’t name, the nightmare doubles. It’s disgusting parts from unknown or mystery animals. At least beef by-products, for example, come from cattle despite being parts your don’t think can be food.
Bottom line, avoid by products. And especially avoid meat by-products, versus a named protein by-product.
Author Ann N. Martin describes a rendering plant in her book, Food Pets Die For. By-products and waste from the slaughterhouse pile up on the factory floor. Maggots thrive in the barrels of dead dogs and cats, snakes, roadkill, deer, foxes, spoiled grocery store meats still in their foam packaging and more.
This stuff is then picked up by front end loader and dumped into a huge vat, where it’s boiled and boiled — or rendered — down into a concentrated sludge of horrifying goop. At the same time, a grinder rips into the mess, popping bones and joins, and tearing skin apart. After cooking and grinding, the mess is spun by centrifugal fore to remove the fat. It’s measured and added back in to the food as “animal fat.” Again, not identified by type of animal. Because how could it be?
Finally the rendered material is dried to a highly concentrated protein powder.
Bottom line, if a meat meal is made from an identified source of protein, such as beef, it does offer more protein, although it’s from pretty unappetizing parts of the animal. But “meat meal” or even worse, “meat by-product meal” means you can’t get a worse food to feed your Morkie.
Look for a specific type of meat in your Morkie’s food. Period. Chicken meat, beef meat, lamb meat and so on.