Animal products are used in many ways by modern society. People consume them and wear them and buy items every day that contain animal-derived components. According to the USDA, Americans consumed 193.8 pounds of meat per capita during 2003. From 1910 until the late 1930s meat consumption averaged about 100 pounds per person. After World War II Americans began consuming more meat. Annual per capita consumption climbed steadily throughout the remainder of the century.
For much of the twentieth century, beef and pork accounted for most of the meat consumed in the United States. (See Figure 4.1.) Concerns about the fat and cholesterol content of red meat led to greater demand for chicken and turkey. Figure 4.1 shows that these "white" meats began to comprise a larger share of meat consumption. By 2003 beef and pork accounted for 57% of the pounds of meat consumed per year, while chicken and turkey comprised 37%. (See Figure 4.2.) Consumption of fish, shellfish, lamb, and mutton was much lower.
Animals killed for meat must be processed immediately. This means that meat animals must arrive alive at the slaughterhouse. They cannot be humanely euthanized with drugs as pets are when put to sleep because humans will be consuming them. Those parts that are not readily edible by humans are "rendered" into other marketable products.
FIGURE 4.2 Meat consumption, per capita by meat type, 2003 SOURCE: Adapted from "U.S. per Capita Food Consumption (Meat)," in Food Availability, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, December 21, 2004, http://www.ers.usda.gov/data/foodconsumption/FoodAvailQueriable.aspx#midForm (accessed February 5, 2005)
According to the National Renderers Association, 8.9 million tons of animal byproducts were produced by the rendering industry in 2003. Approximately one-third was inedible tallow and greases. Another third was meat and bone meal. The remainder included edible tallow, lard, poultry fat, inedible feather meal, and miscellaneous products.
Only about 50% of a cow, 60% of a pig, 72% of a chicken, and 78% of a turkey become edible products. The bones, hooves, beaks, feet, feathers, fat, and inedible organs and tissues are recycled at one of several hundred rendering plants in the United States. The fat is processed for industrial use, and the other byproducts are ground into a powder or boiled to make gelatin. Tallow is used to make soap, candles, and lubricants.
Rendered byproducts are sold to a variety of industries and become ingredients in lubricants, paints, varnishes, waxes, soaps, candles, cement, pharmaceuticals, pet food, toothpaste, and cosmetics (such as lipstick and shampoo). Gelatin is an ingredient in many food products, including some ice cream, yogurt, candy, and marshmallows. Prior to the 1990s, a primary use of rendered byproducts was as a protein supplement (or food source) for livestock. In 1997 the FDA outlawed the use of most mammal-based protein in feed intended for
TABLE 4.2 Animal byproducts in our daily lives SOURCE: Adapted from "Animal Byproducts in Our Daily Lives," Minnesota Foundation for Responsible Animal Care, 2000, http://www.mnbeef.org/MnFRAC/byproducts.htm (accessed March 11, 2005). Originally published in Minnesota Farmers Care.
Fats and fatty acids
Bones, horns and hooves
From hide & wool
Tennis racket strings
Pet food ingredients
Bone charcoal products
Combs & toothbrushes
Creams & lotions
Tires, rubber products
Emery boards & cloth
Horn & bone handles
Wallpaper and wallpaper paste
Steel ball bearings
Plywood & paneling
Shampoo & conditioner
Collagen cold cream
Laminated wood products
cattle. This is to prevent the spread of disease, particularly mad cow disease, should it appear in the United States. Rendering plants also process whole carcasses of farm animals that die of illness or injury and other dead animals, including euthanized pets.
Table 4.2 lists some of the many products that contain animal-derived ingredients. In addition, animal products are increasingly used for human medical and health purposes. An undated AMI fact sheet entitled Products from Animals and available on the AMI Web site in early 2005 reported that the adrenal glands of cattle are a source of epinephrine, a drug administered to people suffering from allergies, asthma, and hay fever. Epinephrine is also used as a heart stimulant and to enhance the effect of some anesthetics. Thrombin is a substance derived from cattle blood that is used to help promote blood clotting in humans and for skin grafting. Other cattle-derived products with medical benefits include insulin, rennet, heparin, TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), ACTH (adrenocorticotrophic hormone), cholesterol, and estrogen. Similar products derived from hogs include cortisone, norepinephrine, estrogen, insulin, pepsin, plasmin, blood fibrin, and oxytocin. Pig organs and skin are also increasingly used in human medicine. According to the AMI, hog heart implants saved 250,000 lives between 1993 and 2005.
After meat, one of the most popular animal products is leather. Produced from the skins of calves, cows, pigs, sheep, lambs, and other animals used in food production, leather is utilized for everything from clothing and shoes to luggage and office supplies to car seats. Industry organizations, such as the Leather Apparel Association, argue that no animal is killed for leather, but animal rights organizations argue that the value of the leather makes up a significant portion of the value of the animal.
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