Tuesday, March 15, 2016


For years, people have been reporting finding foreign objects in their pets' kibble. We've almost come to expect it (and we should expect it). Most people don't examine the kibble that closely, but if they did, we would undoubtedly see even more photos like these. Kibble with pieces of plastic, wire, feathers, and hair protruding are commonplace. Why do all these things end up in pet food? It's easy to understand if you know how kibble is made.

Chicken meal and poultry meal ingredients are commonly made by vacuuming WHOLE chickens into a grinder. Obviously, this would include the feathers (not to mention intestines and their contents). Feathers don't disintegrate completely during grinding and cooking, which means you can find pieces of feathers sticking out of the food.

When animals are rendered to make meat and bone meal, animal fat, animal digest, or meat by-product meal, the entire animal carcass is melted down. This includes the hide and hair. Once the grease or fat is removed from the cooking process, the remaining cooked meat is run over shaker screens that remove the largest chunks of bone and hair. However, the hair may not be completely removed, leaving pieces of hair large enough to be found in the final product. The hair from pigs is particularly coarse, which leads some pet food companies to claim that small metal filaments found                                                       in the food are actually swine hair.

One of the most important pieces of equipment used in the production of meat meal for kibble in large factories is a magnet. Why are magnets needed in the production of pet food? The reason is simple - barn yard animals are full of metal. Cows are fed magnets to prevent "hardware disease". When cows are fed, they commonly pick up pieces of wire, screws, and nails around the feeding area. The pieces of metal settle in the reticulum (one of the four stomachs of cows) and can perforate the stomach. The magnets collect all the metal and hold it in one place so it won't kill the cow. When the cow is slaughtered, the pieces of metal and the magnets get ground in the process. It is estimated 75% of cows going to slaughter contain metal fragments. So the magnets used to process meat to make dog food are supposed to remove any metal pieces after the cow is slaughtered. Chickens may have metal bands on their legs, cows may have metal identification tags on their ears. All these pieces of metal are included when the animals are slaughtered.

The barnyard can also have pieces and bits of plastic that animals can ingest. Hay bales are bound with plastic or wire and trash from fields gets incorporated into the hay when it is baled. This all gets ground into animal feed, which then ends up in pet food when all is said and done.

So don't be surprised next time you find foreign material in the kibble. It's there.

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