Beef tallow has been used in industrial applications, especially soap and candle making for centuries. Only during the late 20th century, the United States pet food industry found tallow as a potential food source for pets, cats, dogs and birds. This is partly due to the surplus availability of edible and inedible tallow in the. In 2004 alone, the U.S. produced about 2.53 million metric tonnes, which was somewhere between half and three-quarters of global tallow production. The American cowman accomplished this much to the surprise of global countries and much to the joy of several industries that used tallow.
Tallow in pet food: Though much of the tallow still goes into soap making and other industrial uses, the pet industry gets its own share of tallow to include it as an ingredient in pet food. Now, the question is, is tallow good as pet food? The answer is a big yes. Below are the reasons:
1. Tallow comes with regulated quality: Tallow production is monitored federally in the United States. This regulation of quality and composition is not available to many oils or other fats. Also, tallow has a titer of less than 40 degree Celsius. This makes tallow solid or semi solid at room temperature, thereby making it suitable for all types of uses.
2. Tallow is an energy source: Used most widely in North America and Europe, beef tallow is basically used to enhance food texture, flavor or a high-energy or high-vitamin source. It would greatly assist pets as it aids in the production of energy.
3. Tallow is palatable by pets: Unlike other fats, lard or mutton fat, beef tallow is easily palatable by cats and dogs. Mutton or lamb tallow is not palatable due to their peculiar aroma, but beef tallow which has a mild aroma is easily palatable by pets. Also, it has a digestibility of 97% or better in spite of being a highly saturated fat.
4. Tallow’s nutritional value: Many think that tallow has high risk of cholesterol or coronary heart disease on account of its heavy fat content. The saturated and trans fats in tallow, and the lipoprotein hypothesis project a false idea of beef tallow as food that is hazardous to health. Wrong. Coronary heart disease is not a concern for pets and is definitely not a health hazard in your cat or dog.
5. Tallow and polyunsaturated fatty acids: Some studies prove that polyunsaturated fats in essential fatty acids like linoleic acid (LA), omega-3 fatty acids like linoleic (ALA), eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acids are useful in treating inflammatory diseases and in neurological development of dogs and cats. Beef tallow does not contain much of these acids, but its nutritional value is sufficient for safe use as a pet food ingredient. Tallow contains 3% of LA and 0.6% of ALA.
6. Tallow’s shelf life is longer: Tallow has a longer shelf life compared to other animal fats. It is stable at room temperature and requires less antioxidant preservatives to achieve shelf life. The linoleic acid present in tallow, it is found out, has the potential to fight cancer.
7. Tallow is pretty cheap: Tallow is used in pet food industry primarily due its cheap availability. It is not as costlier as other fats or oils and is also a better competitor in terms of digestibility and palatability in pets. So, no wonder, it is used widely in the pet food industry.