Smart owners read the labels before feeding a new kind of food to their cats. It's one of the first steps to choosing the best cat food for your kitty and you.
One of the ingredients which often shows up on cat food labels is "By-Products." If you're worried about these by-products in cat food, read on.
We may be able to put your mind at ease and show you the eco-friendly side of these ingredients.
Rumors have abounded online about what by-products consist of, causing some owners to avoid foods containing by-products.
The Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Nature of By-Products
By-products are parts of the slaughtered animal not typically used in the human food industry.
They are the leftovers of our own food, making their use in pet food a more sustainable and eco-friendly option.
Utilizing by-products helps reduce waste and ensures that more of the animal is used responsibly.
The Range of By-Product Ingredients
Common by-product ingredients include lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, blood, bone, fatty tissue, stomachs, and intestines (without their contents).
These are parts of the animal that are regularly consumed by humans in many parts of the world. By using these parts in cat food, manufacturers are able to provide valuable nutrients while reducing waste.
Quality Assurance from USDA-Inspected Facilities
In an interview with pet nutritionist Dr. Martha Cline DVM, she explained that by-products from USDA-inspected facilities do NOT include any dead, dying, diseased, or disabled animals.
Not sure if your pet food comes from a USDA-inspected facility? Call them and ask! This ensures that the by-products in your cat's food come from healthy animals and are safe for consumption.
Differentiating Between By-Products and Rendered Meals
By-products are not rendered meals.
Rendering is the process whereby various animal tissues are cooked to separate fats from proteins.
By-products are not rendered in this way unless specifically described as "rendered" or as "by-products meal."
This distinction is important to know, as the nutritional value of by-products and rendered meals can differ significantly.
So, by-products: bad or good to see on cat food labels?
Cats are obligate carnivores, and their nutrition should be based on animal protein.
By-products can vary in quality, depending on the tissues used and the processing plant they came from, but they are always animal-derived.
As such, by-products can provide a good source of animal protein and fat in your cat's diet, superior to many fillers such as rice, corn, and other starches, or even legumes, vegetables, and fruit.
The tissues which "by-products" contain may sound a bit unappetizing to us humans, but they offer an ecological, useful, and affordable way for manufacturers to enrich cat food with healthy animal-based protein.
By embracing by-products in cat food, you're making an eco-friendly choice that helps reduce waste in the food industry.
Choose foods made by reliable companies—large or small—and you can safely feed by-products to your cats.
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