Pet Food Ingredients
on July 7, 2011

Bones: a not-so-novel source of essential pet nutrients

Niche categories as well as conventional petfoods increasingly depend on bone to meet many pet nutrient needs.

In human foods, bones have long been a staple for making ingredients like soup stock and gelatin; however, people don’t often eat bones directly. Rather, any bone that lands on our plates as a function of eating a steak, drumstick or chop often ends up being discarded or shared with the family pets.

While we are squeamish about such fare, few of our pets can resist the rich taste of the scant bits of meat and sinew clinging to the bone or the savory marrow inside. This is nothing new to the family dinner scene; this sort of behavior has been happening for the past 10,000 to 12,000 years.

In addition to these few leftovers, bone is also part of most every commercial dog and cat food sold today. Whether it is a component of rendered protein meal (e.g., meat and bone meal, chicken meal or fish meal) or in the mechanically separated or “emulsified” meats used in wet foods and treats, each contains measurable and intentional levels of bone. However, bone is inadvertently hidden to the petfood-buying public because it is not part of most ingredient names.

So, the perception  that bone is a novel ingredient is understandable. The growing grassroots movements like raw (including Bones and Raw Food, or BARF) and home-prepared petfoods have increased awareness about bone in the diet and created some demand for bones (fresh, frozen, cooked and ground). More recently, with recall scares and concerns about low-cost micro-ingredients, some conventional petfood companies have…

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