What is rendering and why is it relevant to what I feed my dog?

Alright, this isn’t the cheeriest of topics, but it’s important. There is a lot of information available on this topic, and we’ll provide some references here for further reading. But, here’s the 30 second skinny on it. From our perspective rendering is just gross. It may be unhealthy. It is also efficient and be economically advantageous, but we avoid it altogether because if it’s not something we would eat there is no way we are going to feed it to our pups either. Side note, human food can include rendered products as well. Yikes!

Okay, okay so what is it already? Per the US FDA, “Rendered animal feed ingredients include the various poultry, meat and marine products which result from the rendering of these animal tissues. Rendering of poultry and other animal tissues has been practiced for over a hundred years as a means of salvaging valuable protein and fat content from otherwise waste material. For many years end products from rendering have been used to feed animals. The rendering industry utilizes packinghouse offal, meat processing waste, restaurant waste and animal tissues from other sources including animals that have died otherwise than by slaughter.”*

So, some of that doesn’t sound too bad, like… “...has been practiced for over 100 years….salvage valuable protein…” Okay, maybe a little yucky but efficient and healthy, right? Maybe, maybe not. And, other parts of the definition are scary depending on the interpretation of the definition and the character of the person applying the definition to food processing. For example, “....rendering utilizes...offal….restaurant waste and animal tissues from other sources including animals that have died otherwise than by slaughter.” Offal can be decomposing flesh. How long could it have been decomposing for? Depending on the interpretation this could mean using road kill, deceased sickly zoo animals, and even euthanized pets (possibly an urban legend, but maybe not).

How do you identify products resulting from a rendering process? Anything that says “meal” is a byproduct of rendering. Here’s a snapshot of a common pet food (we’re not going to throw anyone under the bus here), but it’s just evidence that you need to read the fine print….alas, such is life…

common pet food ingredients, rendering


The problem is that there isn’t transparency into these manufacturing methods. It could be okay to use rendered products if done in a healthy way. But without that transparency, best to just steer clear. Purchase products that have intuitive and straight-forward ingredients.  




And, here are some other useful resources:

  1. http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/rendered-products-in-pet-food/
  2. https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2012/04/11/pet-food-contains-poultry.aspx