It’s important to understand how dog food is really made. Rendering components “make up 40 percent to 60 percent of most finished kibble formulas for cats and dogs,” according to the pet food industry. On labels, rendered pet food ingredients such as chicken meal or lamb meal are indicated as ‘meal’ animal protein ingredients. In this module, you will learn about the rendering process and how dog food is developed.
Integrated Rendering Plants
USDA slaughter facilities are part of/integrated with integrated rendering operations. Both edible and inedible items are produced in integrated rendering operations. ‘Edible’ means it has been certified for human consumption and must be processed under USDA supervision. “Inedible” is defined as “adulterated, uninspected, or not intended for use as human food” by regulation.
The rendering of edible and inedible materials takes place in two separate regions of integrated rendering facilities; inedible and edible rendering processes are divided. All edible rendering must originate from carcasses that have been inspected and passed by the USDA.
The ingredients processed into animal feed/pet food through inedible rendering comprise examined and passed carcass portions (not intended for use as human food) and diseased/condemned carcass parts (“adulterated”), according to the definition of inedible. The inspected and passed carcass portions are not separated or rendered separately from the condemned carcass parts. The rendered inedible materials are not made under USDA supervision.
Independent Rendering Plants
Using specially adapted vehicles, these plants usually collect material from other sites. They collect and process fat and bone trimmings, inedible meat scraps, blood, feathers, and dead animals from slaughterhouses and processors, farms, ranches, feedlots, animal shelters, restaurants, butchers, and marketplaces.
There are no edible or human-grade ingredients in independent rendering.
Disclosure Not Required
Ingredients handled using integrated rendering or independent rendering are not required to be disclosed by pet food producers. Dog owners are unaware whether rendered ingredients in their pet’s food are from USDA-inspected and passed carcasses or from contaminated carcasses (or a combination of both).
The percentage of a rendered ingredient that is meat, bone, organs, skin, and so on is not disclosed to pet owners. The AAFCO criteria for rendered pet food ingredients do not specify whether the ingredient must contain a minimum amount of meat or a maximum amount of bone. The make-up of rendered materials is totally up to the ingredient supplier.