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  Albalagh Home Halal A Primer on Animal Feed





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A Primer on Animal Feed

By Syed Rasheeduddin Ahmed

If you eat meat, you must also be concerned about what the animal was feeding on. Today, based mostly on economic considerations, animals are fed all sorts of things that the average consumer would never imagine. This includes other animals, road-kills, blood, and other unsavory substances. Then there are hormones and drugs used to grow the animal with potential adverse effects on the health and long term well being of the consumers. Our concern for eating halal must also extend to a concern for eating healthy food. This can only be achieved through raising consumer awareness on this subject.

Animal feed in the USA is regulated by FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM). A feed ingredient is a component part or constituent or any combination/mixture added to and comprising of the feed. Feed ingredients might include grains, milling byproducts, added vitamins, minerals, fats/oils, and other nutritional and energy sources. Animal feeds provide a practical outlet for plant and animal byproducts not suitable for human consumption.

We are putting a lot of emphasis on animal feed because of its halal status and USDA identified the first Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) case in a Washington state dairy cow in December 2003.

BSE is commonly known as the mad cow disease. Although the main cause of this disease is not known but it is due to the infectious form of protein, prions found in BSE infected cows. It is a fatal disease affecting the nervous system of adult cows. This disease could be transferred to other cows if the animal feed is made from the infected part of the animals. Since 1997, FDA has banned the use of animal brain and spinal cord material in feed given to cattle, sheep and goats. FDA is considering extending this ban to chicken feed and is outlawing the use of cattle blood in livestock feed as well as use of cow brain and other parts in dietary supplements. It is now considering new restrictions on downer cattle or mechanically separated beef in canned soups and frozen pizza.

Among FDA's actions are new rules for cattle feed that

  • Prohibit mammalian blood and blood products from being fed to cattle.
  • Ban chicken waste from livestock feed.
  • Ban the use of uneaten meat and other scraps from large restaurants from being recycled into cattle feed.
  • Require factories that make both livestock feed and feed for other animals that use bovine ingredients to have separate production lines to guard against accidental contamination.

Cattle and Sheep Feed composition:

The feed for cattle and sheep varies in composition. Fresh feeds are the feeds that are grazed or fed as fresh cut.

A typical animal feed is made of the following:

Dry matter
Crude Protein
Crude, Acid Detergent and Neutral Detergent Fibers

Cattle Feed:

Typically feeds for cattle and sheep are obtained from the following materials:

Alfalfa, ammonium sulfate, barley, been, blood meal, beet, bone meal, brewer grain both wet and dry, brewer yeast dried (byproduct of beer making), broom grass, carrot, cattle manure dried, clover, coffee dried, corn, defluorinated phosphate, dicalcium phosphate, distiller grains, fat from poultry, garbage municipal cooked, grains, grape, hominy feed, hop leaves, hops spent, limestone ground, meat meal, minerals, molasses, oats, peanuts, potato, poultry litter dried, poultry manure dried, rape meal, rye, safflower, sorghum, soybean, sunflower meal, timothy hay, triticale, urea 46%N, different wheat products and different types of hays.

Poultry Feed:

Poultry feeds are designed to contain all protein, Energy, Vitamins and other nutrients. Poultry feed is also available with several type of medications to prevent diseases. A typical poultry feed consists of following ingredients:

Ground Yellow Corn
Wheat middling
Soy (44% CP)
Corn Gluten Meal
Meat & Bone (50% CP)
Alfalfa meal (dehy)

There are a lot of different labels applied to beef these days, so let's go through what they mean under rules set by the US Department of Agriculture.

  • Organic - The organic label does apply to beef and has the backing of a legal standard and a certification system. In the case of beef, organic means that the animal (1) has undergone no genetic modification; (2) was fed grain that was not genetically modified and was free of chemical pesticides, fertilizers, animal byproducts and other adulterants; (3) was not treated with antibiotics, growth hormones, or chemical pesticides. Animals raised for organic meat must also have access to the outdoors, though that doesn't necessarily mean that they spend the majority of their time roaming the open grasslands.
  • Free Range - This label is still mostly ungoverned by a legal standard and shouldn't be relied on to determine whether the cow actually spent most of its time on the open plains eating grass or that it ate any particular type of feed. "Free Range" is sometimes also called "free roaming."
  • Natural - This is another mostly meaningless term. As the USDA puts it: "All fresh meat qualifies as natural." Meat labeled "natural" (1) cannot contain any artificial flavor or flavoring, coloring ingredient, chemical preservative, or any other artificial or synthetic ingredient; and (2) can only be minimally processed (ground, for example). The USDA requires that meat packages labeled "natural" also include a statement clarifying the use of the term (such as "no added coloring"). In any event, animal byproducts are not specifically prohibited in the feed of cows raised for "natural" beef (though some beef labeled natural may indeed be free of animal byproducts).
  • Grass Fed - You would think that any package of beef labeled "Grass Fed" would mean that the cow ate only grass. But given that all cows eat grass at least in the early stages of their lives, shady dealers could legally apply the "Grass Fed" label to beef from normal feed-lot cattle. This makes it necessary for you to ensure the label says "100% Grass Fed," "Grass Fed Only" or something similar that does not leave any loopholes. Beef raised only on grass may be slightly less tender than "normal" beef, but it has less overall fat, less saturated fat, higher vitamin A content, and more of the omega-3 fatty acids that help maintain healthy cells in your body. Beef that is 100% grass-fed may or may not be organic-all requirements under the organic standard would still have to be met for "100% grass fed" beef to be labeled organic.
  • No Antibiotics/No Hormones - Beef with either of these labels must be from a cow that was raised without the use of antibiotics or synthetic hormones over its entire lifetime. While both of these characteristics are desirable in your package of beef, neither has any bearing on the mad cow disease (BSE).
  • No Animal Byproducts - The regulations behind this label are not as strong as for the organic standard, but it's reasonable to assume that the label means what it says, that no animal byproducts were used in the feed of the cow(s).
  • Irradiation - Meat that has been irradiated to reduce bacteria levels must be labeled "Treated by Irradiation" or "Treated with Radiation." However, the irradiation levels used on beef do not deactivate the BSE disease agent.
  • Prime, Choice, and Select - These USDA grades are a subjective measure of quality and imply nothing about how the cow was raised or whether it's free of BSE (Grinning Planet).

Halal animal Feed:

The first step in providing halal animal feed is to ensure that the cattle, goats, sheep and poultry were not treated with growth hormones. The animals and poultry must have been fed only vegetarian feed, organic feed and Amish feed.

Although certified organic feeds consist of no animal derived ingredients but some organic feeds are made of fish meal and crab meal.

The problem with Amish feed is there is no regulation and no supervision of the Amish feeds but the main thing is they are made with vegetable based ingredients.

Muslims in the business of Zabiha meat and the halal certification organization should pay more attention to animal feeds

    Albalagh Home Halal A Primer on Animal Feed
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