Monday, June 8, 2009 5:10 PM

Meat By-Products, Anyone?

Moving right along in our quest for nutritional understanding, let's take a look at the actual ingredients in this can of cat food. It starts out pretty well: Turkey broth, turkey, poultry giblets, ocean fish and chicken. For a product named "Turkey & Giblets Dinner", that's not too bad. We may be inclined to look askance at the "ocean fish" part, but, never mind. At least it's recognizable! These ingredients are pretty decent protein sources. Less acceptable are ingredients such as meat by-products and poultry by-products. They may include parts such as spleen, brain, blood and bone in the first instance and feet, heads and viscera in the second. These ingredients are not favored by humans, but do have some food value. They are inferior to the nutritional value of muscle meat, however, so if they are listed first in the "Ingredients" panel you would do well to put that product back on the shelf and keep looking for something with better quality protein sources. Often, the more expensive brands will fit the bill better than the cheaper brands. This is not always so, however, so you would do well to read each and every label before you buy.

The other problem with "by-products" is that they usually come from dead, dying, diseased and disabled--the "4-D"--animals, so it's anybody's guess what they truly contain. It is not uncommon for diseased and cancerous tissue to be tossed into the mix. The industry is allowed to do this because the food is processed at such high heat that, theoretically, anything infective is rendered harmless. This may or may not be true and, in any case, the processing also destroys much of the nutritional content (which was pretty low anyway, considering the source).

This leads us to the very long list of vitamins and minerals that are added to the product after the high temperature cooking process. If these supplements were not added, the animals eating this food would not thrive. I won't list them all here, but I encourage you to look for yourself; it is an extremely long list. That is how manufacturers create a "complete and balanced" food product.

Rounding out the ingredient list are things like oat bran, rice flour and guar gum, bulking and thickening agents that don't really add anything to the nutritional profile but do increase total carbohydrates. Since neither cats nor dogs really have a need for "carbs", they are included because they are cheap and make the food seem "meatier".

What about the stuff that's in there but isn't on the label? Stay tuned.

Movie of the Week: Planet Terror by Robert Rodriguez. His films are so entertaining! If you can suspend belief and keep from focusing on questions like, "How do they get those weapons to work like that?" you'll really enjoy the ride. Luckily, this plot is so ridiculous it's easy to just sit back and go with it. His special features are better than most, too!
Chat later!


Anonymous Says:
June 10, 2009 at 9:45 AM

Very informative. We've seen a black cat wandering around our hotel in Fla. What a cutie.
Do you think he'll be ok?


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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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