Does Natural on The Label Make a Better Dog Food?

It doesn’t matter if your talking about people food or dog food, when you see Natural on the label it is supposed to meet guidelines… in the case of dog food the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) set up these guidelines.

According to the AAFCO website this is the official definition for “natural” when relates to pet food:

NATURAL – A feed or ingredient derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subjected to physical processing, heat processing, rendering, purification extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis or fermentation, but not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic except in amounts as might occur unavoidably in good manufacturing practices.

I have a some concerns about this definition and a major one is the inclusion of the word rendering. This one word opens up the door to something so ugly their should be no way to use this word in the same paragraph as the word Natural.

If you have a strong stomach just Google “animal rendering plants” and you will see what I mean.

Here is what Wikipedia has to say about rendering plants:

Rendering is a process that converts waste animal tissue into stable, value-added materials. Rendering can refer to any processing of animal byproducts into more useful materials, or more narrowly to the rendering of whole animal fatty tissue into purified fats like lard or tallow. Rendering can be carried out on an industrial, farm, or kitchen scale.

The majority of tissue processed comes from slaughterhouses, but also includes restaurant grease and butcher shop trimmings, expired meat from grocery stores, the carcasses of euthanized and dead animals from animal shelters, zoos and veterinarians. This material can include the fatty tissue, bones, and offal, as well as entire carcasses of animals condemned at slaughterhouses, and those that have died on farms, in transit, etc. The most common animal sources are beef, pork, sheep, and poultry.

The rendering process simultaneously dries the material and separates the fat from the bone and protein. A rendering process yields a fat commodity (yellow grease, choice white grease, bleachable fancy tallow, etc.) and a protein meal (meat & bone meal, poultry byproduct meal, etc.).

Rendering plants often also handle other materials, such as slaughterhouse blood, feathers and hair, but do so using processes distinct from true rendering.

I would like you to focus on the sentence “the carcasses of euthanized and dead animals from animal shelters, zoos and veterinarians.”

The problem is the drugs used to euthanized these animals go into the rendering processes… there are many documented cases where these dogs and cats taken to rendering plants from shelters still have their chemical filled tic and flea collars on when rendered.

This is acceptability to the AAFCO definition because of this cover their ass part of the definition “but not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic except in amounts as might occur unavoidably in good manufacturing practices.”

The Rendering process falls under the guidelines of “except in amounts as might occur unavoidably in good manufacturing practices.”

Cattle and chickens raised on steroids and antibiotics would also be acceptable ingredients in a Natural dog food, because it is excepted manufacturing practice.

So while Natural on the dog food labels might be a step in the right direction, they are also just more misleading hurtles for the pet parent that is not educating themselves on what is really in dog food.

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