Rendered Products Remain Quality Feed Ingredients

By Tina Caparella

“Dogs and cats love rendered animal fats and proteins,” Greg Aldrich, Kansas State University, stated at the International Rendering Symposium held during the 2013 International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta, GA, the last week in January. About 80 attendees, including many international guests, listened to industry experts discuss the various aspects of the North American rendering industry.

Aldrich pointed out that 165 million cats and dogs and 213 million other pets (i.e., birds, fish, horses, and rodents) live in 62 percent of homes in the United States (US), compared to children living in 33 percent of US homes. He emphasized the paradigm shift from pets going from barnyard security to becoming a family member is bringing some “craziness,” such as a new demand for high protein (35 to 50 percent), no grain diets, even though dogs don’t need such high protein amounts in their food.

As a nutritionist, Aldrich is most concerned with the palatability of rendered products and sees a trend toward natural preservatives, of which tocopherol-based systems are most effective. As to the on-going battle of classifying some pet food ingredients as “by-products,” which, by definition, are secondary products produced in addition to the principal product, he noted that if the ingredient name cannot be changed, then the pet food industry will need to educate consumers that these ingredients are just fine to use in pet foods.

“Rendered protein meal represents a substantial portion of the high quality protein and fat in modern companion animal diets,” Aldrich said. “They are commonly included at five to 40 percent and can contribute in excess of 85 percent of the dietary protein and 30 percent of the dietary fat.” He went on to thank the rendering industry for “taking all this waste and creating good, quality ingredients for pet foods. And I know we don’t always express that thanks.”

National Renderers Association (NRA) President Tom Cook described the rendering industry as the essential gatekeeper for the health of people and the planet. In the United States and Canada, 250 facilities process 137 million pounds of raw material each day, enough to fill 10,000 Dallas Cowboy football stadiums annually. He broke down the amount of material from each animal not consumed for human food in the United States as 49 percent of the live weight of a cow, 44 percent of a hog, 37 percent of a chicken, and 36 percent of a turkey.

Dr. Gianni Carniglia, NRA consultant for Latin America, provided estimates for the region’s rendering industry, which includes 70 plants in Brazil, 14 in Mexico, and 10 in Argentina that make up 93 percent of production. Almost 80 percent of rendering facilities are integrated with meat processors, with protein meals accounting for 67 percent of production and fats making up the balance.

The pet food industry in Latin America is an emerging market, accounting for 17 percent of the global share and growing at about 12 percent per year. Four countries make up almost 95 percent of the market volume: Brazil at 52 percent with 2.2 million metric tons, Mexico at 19 percent with 800,000 metric tons, Argentina at 14 percent with 600,000 metric tons, and Chile with seven percent of the market at 360,000 metric tons, with 40 percent of that product imported.

“The availability of proteins and fats in quantity and quality will be a key successful factor of the Latin America pet food industry development,” Carniglia commented.

Bill Dieterichs, The Jacobsen Report, mentioned there isn’t a lot of change in raw material supply for US renderers and that all rendered products will be used, it’s just a matter of where. He remarked that growing demand continues to be in aquaculture, with some growth in boilers and pork, while beef demand remains flat. Dieterichs said feather meal usage is increasing in Chile’s aquaculture industry, and the “huge” growth in US exports of dried distillers grains with solubles is most likely for poultry and pork rations.

“US and Canadian rendered protein is a safe and wholesome ingredient that should continue to find its way into animal feed throughout the world,” he announced.

Renderers provided their perspectives, beginning with Dr. Charles Starkey, American Proteins, Inc. who noted that pet food gets as much regulatory attention these days as infant formula due to Salmonella concerns. He said that a new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Compliance Policy Guide for Salmonella in Animal Feed is due out soon, and that feed ingredients with any traces of Salmonella are no longer considered adulterated, except those used in milk replacers and pet food. While there are over 2,300 species of Salmonellosis, FDA is primarily focusing on 30 to 40 that cause concern. Starkey has no doubt that Salmonella is killed in the rendering cooker so any recontamination is most likely caused by outside sources, including employees. He pointed out that the bacteria can survive on cloth for up to 228 days, in sweeper dust for 300 days, and on wash and wear fabric for nearly 70 days. He then provided a laundry list of ways to prevent Salmonella contamination.

Dr. Ross Hamilton, Darling International, Inc. acknowledged that the rendering industry’s goal is to provide safe, quality ingredients to customers for use in pet food and animal feed. He estimates nearly 76 billion pounds of raw material is available to recycle by renderers each year, including used cooking oil, expired meat from retail, and fat, bone, and trim from meat processing. Hamilton explained that rendering kills pathogenic organisms, protects the environment, recycles carbon and energy, and provides control, verification, and traceability that condemned or expired meat products are not reused as human food, all within hours of receiving the raw materials rather than weeks or months as other popular alternative methods do. He highlighted the various methods, including critical control points, and programs used in the industry to ensure pathogens are destroyed and that products are not recontaminated.

Hamilton encouraged employers to do background checks on new employees and ensure all employees receive training on feed safety and good manufacturing practices, including the intent behind them, and provide annual refresher training. He also urged renderers to educate their raw material suppliers that the cleaner the material, the cleaner the finished product. Drivers need to inspect material collected for uncharacteristic odors, suspicious and prohibited materials, metal, wood, plastic, and ear tags, and companies need to provide drivers with the process to document and report possible contaminations.

Dr. David Meeker, senior vice president, NRA Scientific Services, explained that many proteins contain Salmonella, not just animal proteins, and that the rendering industry is working harder every day to control the bacteria in their products. He emphasized that testing of animal proteins checks to ensure the rendering process is working, not every load produced, and widespread testing for Salmonella is not necessary or cost-effective.

A number of researchers shared their experiences with rendering and its products, including Dr. Charles Gooding, Clemson University, who explained how rendering’s attributes make it a “green” industry as defined by the World Resource Institute, such as minimal use of virgin raw materials; production processes that minimize the use of water and energy; production processes free from harmful toxins; reuse and recycling of solid waste streams; substantial reductions in emissions or effluents of harmful greenhouse gases and pollutants; and products that are built for longevity and durability. He presented an array of calculations developed to determine the carbon footprint of a rendering operation and explained that he is now looking at a life cycle assessment of rendering due to demand from various sources to show that rendering is a green process compared to alternative technologies such as composting.

Dr. Jeffre Firman, University of Missouri, focused on rendered products in poultry feed, which are used as a source of protein, calcium, and phosphorus. He described using a digestible formulation to save money and allow the use of alternative ingredients more easily. Dr. Brian Kerr, US Department of Agriculture, stated that phosphorus can be a high-cost item in feed formulations with rendered proteins being a good source of phosphorus at a lower cost. Kerr also touched on the revisions made to the National Research Council’s Nutrient Requirements of Swine released in 2012.

Pet Food Focus
There were other educational programs available to the record 26,000-plus attendees at the IPPE, including a pet food conference sponsored by the Poultry Protein and Fat Council and American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) and its Pet Food Committee. Michael Maddox, Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, got the meeting started with statistics that showed pet food product sales have doubled in the last 10 years, but that pet ownership actually saw a small drop from 2006 to 2011 after years of steady growth.

Maddox next addressed the various regulatory trends emerging in the United States, such as limits on the number of pets per household, mandatory spay/neuter, identification enforcement, pet “guardianship” versus pet “owner,” and non-economic damages, something the pet food industry is very concerned about. He emphasized that “emotion rules the day,” and in the world of pets, a picture really does express a thousand words.

Dr. Daniel McChesney, FDA/Center for Veterinary Medicine, updated attendees on the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) proposed rules for human food released in January, indicating that the feed rules will be almost identical with the exception that good manufacturing practices for feed will be introduced since they currently don’t exist in regulation. He advised to read the executive summary of the proposed rules for food, and then skip the next 400 or so pages that explain FDA’s thought process behind the rules. McChesney explained that the language specifying companies “should” do this is FDA-speak for “we would like you” to do this. He also shared information about FDA’s Veterinary Laboratory Response Network used to promote human and animal health by collaborating with state veterinary diagnostic laboratories that has been well received.

A panel of pet food ingredient representatives discussed issues keeping them up at night. Mike Cici, The Scoular Company, said corn carry-over is low and changing weather conditions in 2011-2012 meant a smaller fish catch. He then presented alternative protein sources for animal feed as “pulses” (dry bean, chickpea, dry pea, lentil, and fava bean) and algae, which he described as nutritionally situated between soybean meal and fish meal.

Jerry Phelps, Tyson Animal Nutrition Group, noted that 40 percent of the US corn crop is used in ethanol while on a world scale, 15 percent of the corn is used in the biofuel. He warned that the availability of domestic protein supplies is constricted now and in the foreseeable future as exports are increasing. However, because of the decline in fish meal availability, feed manufacturers have been turning more attention to feather and poultry meals, creating a “good year” for Tyson. Phelps did encourage the industry to “think outside the box” to redefine ingredient definitions and expand to new protein sources.

Dale Hill, ADM Alliance Nutrition, reiterated that the availability of feed ingredients is becoming more and more difficult. His company works with 400 different ingredients and the challenges are obtaining a certificate of analysis on each batch and third party certification on processes from ingredient suppliers and imports. Hill believes 80 to 90 percent of feed companies are already in compliance with FSMA, and that Salmonella remains a big issue for the industry with the focus being on control and reduction.

Dr. Maho Imanishi, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, confirmed that Salmonella is the most common bacterial cause of foodborne illnesses in the United States, with 1.2 million illnesses report-ed each year resulting in 400 deaths. She explained there are many ways the bacteria is transmitted to humans, both directly through eating contaminated foods and indirectly, and that outbreaks now tend to be more dispersed across the country compared to being more localized years ago. Imanishi discussed the small Salmonella outbreak in spring 2012 that was linked to dry dog food. In response, CDC has prepared an educational poster instructing consumers on proper handling of pet food that will be distributed to animal hospitals, veterinary clinics, and pet food retailers.

Aldrich also spoke at the pet food conference, echoing the sentiment that pet food’s unique role in the mix of animal and human food is now being swept into food safety rules like never before. He described the multiple threats to pet food manufacturers as mixing errors, miscalculations and unexpected processing interactions, and contaminates that can come from multiple entry points such as raw materials, transportation, personnel, pests, post processing, packaging, distribution, and even in the consumer’s home. Aldrich said manufacturers often consider the extruder as a kill step for bacteria, but he has not found much data to support this idea and sometimes sees recontamination after emergence from the extruder. He noted a practical rapid method (less than one hour) for detecting Salmonella in pet food and feed ingredients is needed.

Jan Jarman, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, provided an update on an amendment to the American Association of Feed Control Officials’ (AAFCO’s) “95 percent rule.” Currently, if a product name includes animal-derived ingredients, then those ingredients must make up 95 percent of the product. The proposed change is if a product name includes any ingredients, then those ingredients must make up 95 percent of the product, thus making the rule apply to all feed ingredients, not just those derived from animals. Jarman mentioned that AAFCO has developed a website at in response to a large interest in home-based pet treat and pet food manufacturing and put in place a strategic plan with one goal being to enhance cooperation among regulatory agencies, especially state-to-state.

Third party certification was also addressed, beginning with a recap of AFIA’s programs that are designed as a pass or fail system, are open to all companies for certification, and meet or exceed FDA regulations. A panel of experts encouraged companies to be open and honest with auditors because the intent of the certification is for the company’s operations to be better than they are currently. In addition, certain employees in the company need to be trained in hazard analysis and critical control points prior to becoming certified. That training is available through universities, private trainers, or industry organizations. The panel emphasized that third party certification programs are to ensure the company is doing the best it can to ensure safe feed and feed ingredients. It’s expected that under FSMA, third party certification will be required, and many customers are beginning to demand it.

April 2013 RENDER | back