What is meant by meat and animal by-products (or derivatives) in pet food?

For petfood producers it is allowed to categorise the raw materials in the ingredient list. A layman sees this as a way to process low-grade raw materials in the food, without having to explicitly mention them in the ingredient list. The category that is misgiven the most is ‘meat and animal by-products (or derivatives)’. False information in different media conditions pet owners into believing that this category includes all possible by-products from the meat processing industry. This misconception is partly created due the use of the word ‘offal’ to describe this category. The definitions of offal: 1: ‘the waste or by-product of a process’, 2: ‘the organs (such as the liver or kidney) of an animal that are used for food’. The double definition of this term causes extra confusion about what is actually going into dog and cat food.

Offal (waste) can describe a very wide variety of products. With this fact and the multiple definitions of this term, an opponent to the petfood industry can easily use the word to their advantage. Furthermore, what a person perceives as actual waste is very subjective. In some cultures, headcheese (pig’s head meat) is seen as a very tasty product. But in most countries you will not find pig heads in the supermarket’s refrigerator. Foie gras (baked goose liver) is a popular delicatessen in France, but in other countries people do not even stand the thought of eating liver. Esthetical and antipathetic reasons stop people in western countries from eating organ meat. All the meat products that are not eaten by the average consumer are seen as slaughter waste. So the major part of the organ meat coming from slaughter houses does not end up at the butcher’s shop, but will be processed into petfood. The correct terms for these products are: animal by-products or animal derivatives. The real slaughter waste is processed into biodiesel.