Pet food and treats can use that otherwise wasted food, or at least some ofit. That could reduce the demand from pet food companies for some rawmaterials or reduce competition between human and pet food streams.

A European Union project, Food 4 Feed, tested dried food waste from hotels asa dog food ingredient. Researchers with Food for Feed established arecommended inclusion level for that dried human food waste in dog food, butalso identified limits.

“In this project, catering waste from hotel kitchens was collected,” Dr.Nadine Paßlack, professor of small animal internal medicine at Justus-LiebigUniversity in Giessen, Germany, told Petfood Industry in an email. “So, thefood residues fed to the dogs in our study were human food left-overs. Thefood residues were solar-dried, ground, and used as a component for a completediet for dogs.”

In Heraklion on the Greek island Crete, Food 4 Feed participants built a pilotplant for drying food waste using the sun. Hotels in the tourist areas ofHeraklion and Herssonissos provided the food waste. First, the waste is hand-sorted, then shredded. It’s then dried in a greenhouse over 10 days. LIFE+Programme of the European Union supported the project.

Dried human food waste digestibility by dogs

Paßlack tested the potential for the resulting dried food waste as a dog foodingredient. In her experiment, dogs ate one of three diets containing 5%, 10%and 15% dried food from hotels, compared the same formulation without driedfood waste. After three weeks, the scientists tested the dogs’ blood andfeces. Digestibility reduced with higher levels of inclusion. The researchersconcluded that dog foods could contain up to 5% dried food waste.Digestibility may limit including more than that. The journal Archives ofAnimal Nutrition published the study results.

“Currently, using catering waste for commercial pet food is not permitted(Commission Regulation (EU) No 142/2011),” Paßlack said. “However, the resultsof the project might contribute to policy changes in the future.”

Environmental benefits of using human food waste in pet food

Using dried human food waste in pet foods can be called upcycling. Upcyclingrefers to using existing materials, especially those that would have beendiscarded, to make a value-added product. In the cases of the food system,otherwise unsaleable consumables become ingredients in new foods, human orpet.

Unused human food items seem a natural fit for pet food. Dogs and cats haveeaten what we didn’t since before Stonehenge’s grand opening. Kids are stillprone to reducing food waste by feeding unwanted portions to the dog. Like akid at the dinner table, the human food system often rejects foods it thinkslook funny. Misfit fruits and veggies may not fit through processing machinesor people won’t buy them fresh, for example. However, using crooked carrotsand twisted ‘taters to make pet food doesn’t just fulfill the dinner-timeadage of waste-not-want-not. Reducing food loss by turning it into pet foodingredients fights the global threat of a destabilized climate.

Food waste, climate change and pet food solutions

Agriculture affect the atmosphere in various ways. From producing fertilizerto flatulent cows to trucking veggies to market, the food system releasescarbon dioxide, methane and other heat-trapping gases. While upcyclingagricultural products doesn’t solve this problem, it does mean that pollutionwasn’t produced in vain. Along with greenhouse gases, upcycling reduces wasteof wildlife habitat lost to farmland and water diverted to irrigation.

Food waste equates to tremendous amounts of pointless pollution and wastedresources. The World Resources Institute report “Creating a Sustainable FoodFuture” presented data that food waste corresponds to 8% of annual greenhousegas emissions worldwide, or the equivalent of 4.4 gigatons of carbon dioxide.If it were a country, food waste would be the third largest contributor ofgreenhouse gases on the planet. To grow all that unused food, farmers use aland area larger than China and consume a quarter of irrigation waters.Overall, approximately 24% of food is lost or wasted between production andconsumption.

Pet food and treats can use that otherwise wasted food, or at least some ofit. Food rescued from waste could replace at least part of a pet foodcompanies need for ingredients. That could reduce the demand from pet foodcompanies for some raw materials or reduce competition between human and petfood streams.

World Resources Institute analysts estimated that cereals, including grains,make up 53% of food loss and waste by caloric content. Fruits and vegetablescomprised 44% by weight of lost or wasted food. In total, 1.5 quadrillionkilocalories were lost or wasted in 2009, from 1.3 billion tons of food.

Source:Tim Wall Petfood Industry

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