Tim Phillips, DVM
The headline read: “How dogs and cats get recycled into petfood” (San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 20, 1990). Similar headlines appear regularly. The belief is dead pets are rendered and the resulting product finds its way into petfoods.
Not true, according to Fred Bispling-hoff, DVM, Consultant for the Animal Protein Producers Industry (APPI). “I believe I have as much information on this subject as anyone,” says Dr. Bisplinghoff. “I have spent much time talking to reporters, renderers, petfood manufacturers and pet owners for the past twenty years. Adverse publicity has dictated that renderers get rid of small animals or make arrangements to sell their end products into markets other than the petfood market.”
Rendering pets for petfood is not harmful to pets consuming such petfoods. Nevertheless, emotional reactions over-shadow any rational discussion of this issue. Pet owners tend to be appalled by the idea. The rendering industry is well aware of public disapproval of the practice.
Rendering is an economical, environmentally sound way of disposing of pets. The alternatives are to bury or incinerate them. However, these alternatives have economic and environmental disadvantages. Still, because most renderers will not accept pets, humane societies and others have increasingly turned to incineration.
The following is the breakdown of producers of animal proteins by type of raw material processed:
♦ Independent renderers process raw material from small packing houses, supermarkets, etc. There are 182 in the U.S.
♦ Packer renderers process raw material from only the species they are slaughtering. There are ninety-eight of this type in the U.S.
♦ Poultry processors process poultry by-products. There are fifty-six nationwide.
♦ Protein blenders purchase dry rendered tankage from the preceding processors. There are twenty-four in the United States.
Of these, says Dr. Bisplinghoff, the only group that might process dead pets are the independent renderers. He estimates that of the 182 independent renderers, only five to seven process pets. However, this number does not include the “small country processors who may occasionally take a pet from a livestock producer.” Generally, these small feed companies do not manufacture companion animal diets.
Petfood manufacturers have demand-ed guarantees that their animal protein suppliers do not process dead companion animals. Since petfood makers are large volume, valued customers, says Dr. Bisplinghoff, no renderer would chance losing this profitable business.
Furthermore, dead pets are not desirable raw material for rendering. Therefore, there is no economic incentive for renderers to seek this type of raw material.
“Some renderers may process a small volume of dog pound animals,” says Dr. Bisplinghoff, “but they do it to get along with local health authorities who have the responsibility to dispose of these animals in an economic and sanitary manner. But, these renderers do not sell their products to petfood manufacturers. The few renderers who handle large volumes of dead pets either export their animal proteins or sell them to integrated poultry operations.”
Tim Phillips, DVM is Editor of Petfood Industry Magazine.
Reprinted with permission from Petfood Industry Magazine, March/April 1992.