Let’s Talk About By-Products, Shall We?

Did you shudder at the thought of the word ‘by-products,’ in the title? It is a popular ingredient source found in most pet foods? I know some people do, and I’ve often wondered, ‘why?’

What do you believe a by-product is?
In a survey done by Pet MD, states that the majority of respondents believed that animal hair, teeth, and hooves are included in meat by-products, and that is not the case. AAFCO regulations expressly do not permit these body parts to be included in a by-product used in pet food.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) defines meat by-products as:

  • “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 hooves. It shall be suitable for animal food.”
  • Meat by-products are most parts of an animal other than its muscle tissue—including the internal organs and bones.
  • By-products include some animal parts that some Americans eat (such as livers, kidneys and tripe), but also parts that they typically do not eat. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not deem certain by-products safe and nutritious for other animals. Safe by-products such as udders and lungs, edible for human consumption, can be nutritious for other animals.

The nutrients found in common by-products – such as livers or kidneys are well utilized in processing pet food. For the body to make the protein required, a fair amount of amino acids must be present for that end nutrient profile to be created. Muscle meat only has so many nutrients to give.

By-products are nutritious – they are a highly digestible protein source and are a great source of fatty acids that aid in skin and coat health. It is also a great source of vitamins for optimal organ health and a mineral source that can aid in blood pressure regulation and heart and kidney health.

Don’t be scared by the word ‘by-product.’ It is an invaluable source of nutrients that help to optimize the nutritional value of your pet food.

If you have any questions, please give us a call at 905-857-5057.

Written by: Josie, RVT

Pet MD