Meat quality is an important part of a raw diet, so it’s easy to understand why raw feeders avoid 3D and 4D meats.
What does 3D and 4D meat mean?
Down (because of a broken leg, sickness, or refusal to stand)
Animals that are able to walk on and off of transport vehicles to be added to the human food chain are deemed as safe for human consumption. But as we’re learning more and more these days, that doesn’t mean that their meat is a quality product. That’s another discussion altogether.
Back to the topic at hand…
So, what happens to 3D and 4D animals? They’re sent off to make dog food (kibble) and some raw dog food brands are also buying these meats. Why? Because it’s crazy cheap.
Do diseased animals come out of USDA plants? Absolutely. Are dying animals processed in USDA facilities? Every day. So how do the processors distinguish between “safe meat” and 3 or 4D meats? The answer is, denaturing.
According to USDA regulations, beef that leaves a USDA plant that is not intended for human consumption must be denatured. Denaturing agents can vary a great deal from the simple charcoal additive to a cocktail of different chemicals and dyes.
The chemicals used to denature meat give it a distinctive color, odor, or taste so that it cannot be confused with meat that meets human consumption standards. In other words, denaturing ensures that the meat won’t be mistakenly processed, packed and sold as human food. So obviously, when you feed these meats your dogs they are also ingesting the denaturing chemicals used to ensure that the meat didn’t get mistaken for “quality” meat.
Denaturing Agents Allowed By The USDA:
- A 4 percent by weight of coarsely ground hard bone; or
- A 6 percent by weight of coarsely ground hard bone; or
- A 6 percent solution of tannic acid for 1 minute followed by immersion in a water bath, then immersing it for 1 minute in a solution of 0.022 percent FD&C yellow No. 5 coloring;
- A formula consisting of 1 part FD&C green No. 3 coloring, 40 parts water, 40 parts liquid detergent, and 40 parts oil of citronella;
- A solution of 0.0625 percent tannic acid, followed by immersion in a water bath, then dipping it in a solution of 0.0625 percent ferric acid;
- Any phenolic disinfectant conforming to commercial standards CS 70-41 or CS 71-41.
- Cresylic disinfectant;
- Crude carbolic acid;
- FD&C blue No. 1 coloring;
- FD&C blue No. 2 coloring;
- FD&C green No. 3 coloring;
- Finely powdered charcoal or black dyes;
- Kerosene, fuel oil, or used crankcase oil;
- No. 2 fuel oil, brucine dissolved in a mixture of alcohol and pine oil or oil of rosemary, finely powdered charcoal;
- Any ‘other proprietary substance’ approved by the USDA
What are the dangers of 3D and 4D meats? Well, the denaturing agents alone are reason enough to avoid these meats. Aside from that, the concern is that a diseased and dying animal can transfer an illness to our pets. While people will say that this isn’t an issue, so why then are these animals not fit for human consumption? If humans shouldn’t eat a diseased animal, why should we assume it’s safe to feed them to our dogs?
I asked. They didn’t answer.
It’s going to be hard for you to find a supplier that will admit to providing 3D and 4D meat. They’ll just dance around the topic or refuse to answer. In researching for this article, I contacted several raw dog food suppliers, and boy can they dance! But that’s not to say that all of them include these meats in their products. However, I have yet to find a raw dog food company who’s meats are classified as “for human consumption” and that’s something you should question before buying.
Let me clarify that just because meat (or a supplier or facility) is inspected by the USDA, this doesn’t guarantee that the meat being provided for dog food (raw or processed) isn’t 3D or 4D meat. You will hear from most dog food companies (those who sell raw and/or processed) that their facilities, company and/or meats are USDA inspected. This doesn’t mean that they don’t use 3D and 4D meats.
I get asked all the time “Do you buy from raw dog food companies?” My answer is always this, “I only feed my dogs meats (and organs) that have been humanely raised and are fit for human consumption.” This means that I don’t feed meats from raw dog food companies, as I have yet to find one that meets those prerequisites. I take that standard a step further and raise much of my dogs’ meat as well as buy from ethical and humane, local farms and hunters. I encourage you to do the same!
How can you ensure that you’re buying quality meats for your dogs?
- Buy from people and companies who are transparent. Ask to walk around a farm’s facility. Ask questions about their animals and processing practices. Be bold and ask about 3D and 4D meats!
- Buy local. Get to know local farmers (some of which will offer packages specifically for raw feeders). Create relationships with people and if you don’t get a good feeling about a person or company, seep shopping around.
- Look into multiple sources – farmers, butchers, homesteaders, hunters and fisherman.
You can find quality meats at great prices! Look around and do your research. Perfecting this whole raw feeding thing can be overwhelming at times. I know this feels like one more thing you have to worry about, but trust me, with a little research you’ll come across trustworthy sources in no time.