I was recently given an article from the Winter 2010 edition of the NAVTA journal titled "Nutrition Myths". I read through it, attempting to be open-minded, and figured I'd share what I read, and my responses, here on My Household Zoo. I will go through one myth a day, because I'd rather not bore you guys to death. :P
Myth #1: "Meat by-products are inferior in quality compared to whole meat in a diet". According to this article and the AAFCO, meat is defined as
"any combination of skeletal striated muscle or that muscle found in tongue, diaphragm, heart, esophagus with or without the accompanying and overlying fat and the portions of the skin, senew, nerve, and blood vessels which normall accompany the muscle derived from part of whole carcasses. It also must be suitable for use in animal foods. This excludes feathers, heads, feet and entrails."On the other hand, meat by-products are defined as
"non-rendered, clean parts of the carcass which may contain lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, liver, blood, bone, heads, feet(of poultry), partially defatted fatty tissues, stomach and intestines emptied of their contents. It does not include hair, horns, teeth or hooves."The article then claims that the amount of non-digestible material found in a particular food depends on the manufacturer. The ash content is a good way to determine digestibility; a high ash content means the food is not as easily digested.
To be quite honest with you, I have no concerns with feeding my dogs or cats the ingredients mentioned in the definition of by-products. Most wild animals would consume these things any which way. Depending on how you look at it, some of those materials may even be beneficial, like extra calcium in bones, and extra iron in liver and blood. Wild animals will normally leave the intestines, but I assume that is because of the contents, which are emptied in order to create meat by-products. So +1 for this "myth busting" article.
My concerns: unless it is a specified type of by-product, what animal is it coming from? And even if it is specified, is that by-product fresh, or is it from cattle that have been down for days? Regardless, a healthy ratio of meat should be present as well. Wild animals would eat much more meat than organs and bones. There's no mention about these points in the article, so it failed to sway my opinion in that aspect.