How garbage is turned into gourmet pet food, animal feed

I read a simply fascinating book the other day, Food Waste to Animal Feed (I know what you’re thinking, God that poor woman, she must have the most boring life), and in it, they detailed the gruesome practice of turning food waste (aka: garbage) into livestock feed. It’s not a new practice, in fact, it’s been going on since the beginning of time. The trouble with today’s practice, is, that it is that it is done on an industrial scale where sanitation is not on top the recycling industry’s list of priorities – after all it is just garbage.

As an example, let me tell you about a new factory that’s being remodeled in Southern Missouri right now: The company will intake more than a million pounds of food waste daily and turn it into feed instead of it going to a dump. Some of their biggest clients include Tyson, ConAgra, and General Mills.

Waste materials, such as garbage, have little, if any value. However, if perceived value can be realized for a waste selected for recycling, such as food waste, it can realistically progress through a series of events culminating in the achievement of co-product status.

They don’t use the term garbage – that’s just too icky. But, not only is it icky, it has no value. They prefer the term “food waste,” but my personal favorite term is “co-product”. Our friends at the AAFCO have officially recognized food waste as “T60.96 Food Processing Waste” and “T60.97 Restaurant Food Waste”.

So, the next time you see the generic term animal by-product on your bag of pet food it may have started out as slaughter house waste (aka: garbage) that was then picked up and shipped in an unrefrigerated truck to a rendering plant in another state where it was cooked into a brown powder and sold to a pet food or animal feed manufacturer. Think about that the next time you see the lovely images of healthy ingredients pictured on the packages of pet food.

And it’s all perfectly legal.

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Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, the author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and consumer advisor. Help support her work by making a donation today.

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