Ask Dr. Anna: common misconceptions about meat by-products

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This will be the last of my mini-series of pet foods.  This week I will cover important and, unfortunately, common misconceptions about meat by-products.  In a recent study of almost 900 consumers over 50% of the respondents incorrectly believed that meat by-products included internal organs, hooves, feces, and even road kill.  When in fact, internal organs are actually the only product in the above list that can be included in meat by-products.

Anna CoffinThe American Association of Feed Control Officials defines a meat by-product 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, stomach and intestines which have been freed of their contents.  It does not include hair, horns, teeth or hooves.  Many of these products are higher in essential amino acids, mineral and vitamin than the actual meat in the food.  In fact, some pet food manufacturers are straying away from the term meat by-products and actually listing the organ that has been put in the food.

There are many pet owners that would not feed their pet a diet that contains meat by-products but commonly give these same products to their pet as treats without any concern.  Examples include, bully sticks (bull penis), pig ears and tendons.  The same study I mentioned above found that 26% of the respondents who said that they avoided by-products fed bully sticks.  There is nothing wrong with giving these products as treats but as a consumer you must be careful because quality control of these treats are not as stringent as those for pet foods.

I have had many people ask me for specific recommendations on brands of food to feed.  This is a hard question to answer as there are so many brands that are currently available.  The ingredients and quality of the ingredients vary greatly in pet foods.  Quality is not assured based on the ingredient list.  There is poor quality meats, meat meals and meat by-products that are put into pet foods every day.  It is important to purchase food from reputable manufacturers who are selective about their suppliers, have qualified nutritionists on staff and perform analytical testing of their foods

Please e-mail me with your questions at ACoffin@aol.com and put “Ask Dr. Anna” in the subject line or mail your questions to 123 West Harrison Guthrie, OK 73044.

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