This common Prescription Pet Food ingredient is classified as a Chemical Substance by the EPA, not food
CORN GLUTEN MEAL
Ingredients in your pet’s food, especially prescription pet food, should be healthy, right? Or at least safe! When pet parents hear “Corn Gluten Meal”, an ingredient commonly used in prescription pet foods, most imagine that it is a by-product of the manufacture of refined products like Fritos and Cheetos… not that bad… We eat those sometimes! The reality, though, is that it is legally classified as a Chemical Substance, and is soaked in highly Toxic Chemical Substances for 2-3 days before ending up in Prescription Pet Food. (1)(2)
To truly understand what you’re getting when you’re feeding a product that contains Corn Gluten Meal (as with most ingredients) you must have a clear understanding of the sourcing, manufacturing and regulation of the product. In this article we will show you how a toxic chemical such as Corn Gluten Meal can end up in your pet’s food, and even come highly recommended by your Veterinarian.
HOW IS IT DEFINED?
Corn Gluten Meal is classified by AAFCO as a “Processed Grain by-product,” to which there is no definition and therefore no definable regulation. (3) It’s defined as, “Corn Gluten Meal is the dried residue from corn after the removal of the larger part of the starch and germ (potential nutrients), and the separation of the bran (more potential nutrients) by a process employed in the wet milling manufacture (chemical industry process) of corn starch or syrup (so after another industry has already used what they want from it), or by enzymatic treatment of the endosperm. It may (but is not required to) contain fermented corn extractives and/or corn germ meal.” (4) Seems pretty benign, right?
WHERE IS IT SOURCED FROM?
The short answer is the biodiesel industry. Corn Gluten Meal is a chemical by-product of ethanol production. (8) (9)
Ethanol is an alternative fuel source made from the starch-heavy and accessible “liquid energy” of corn. Manufacturers extract corn starch from corn to make liquid energy (fuel) through a long chemical fermentation process.
With the starches extracted for ethanol energy, the residue, or “trash,” maintains a high protein content. However, remaining nutrients have been stripped from the end-product, leaving almost exclusively protein and B-Vitamins from the yeast fermentation in the end product. To finalize Corn Gluten Meal, corn steep liquor (which is also used as a Petri dish medium) is combined back with corn mash after biodiesel use.
WHAT OTHER INGREDIENTS ARE IN THIS ONE INGREDIENT?
The process of ethanol extraction of a corn kernel clarifies the reasons for the vast list of ingredients found in Corn Gluten Meal.
- GLYPHOSATE/ Roundup – 97% of corn in today’s world is Genetically Modified. The purpose of modification is to make plants more tolerant to pest killing chemicals that would otherwise kill them. Therefore, corn can be soaked in glyphosate chemicals to kill those hard to kill pests without killing otherwise easy to kill natural corn.
- Glyphosate soaked corn is then ground into CORN FLOUR which is then mixed with recycled water streams and cooked into a CORN MASH. The water is recycled from previous batches because it is illegal to release it into the environment as the chemicals it contains are registered as toxic chemicals substances by the EPA.
- Mash solids are removed via centrifuge which creates a product called CORN STEEP LIQUOR, a product primarily used for Petri dishes but added back into the final Corn Gluten Meal product at lesser density.
- ALPHA-AMYLASE is then added to separate starch from the remaining protein and fiber residue that is unnecessary for use as ethanol.
- Once the mash is cooled it is fermented with CREAM YEAST, YEAST VITAMINS combined with GLUCO-AMYLASE sit together in ANHYDROUS AMMONIA to further the breakdown of the starches and separation of non-ethanol extracts while maintaining the proper pH. This blend is soaked in a highly toxic and EPA regulated chemical called SULFUR DIOXIDE for 48-60 hours to fully extract the starch alcohols. This process makes a 190-proof alcohol that is then run through sieve beads to wick out water.
- This process requires antifouling agents such as SULFURIC ACID, Acid (10), nitrogen-rich yeast nutrients such as LIQUID UREA and DIAMMONIUM PHOSPHATE (11)
- Because corn harbors a variety of mycotoxins and pathogens that are dangerous to human health, multiple antibiotics are added including ERYTHROMYCIN, TYLOSIN, and VIRGINIAMYCIN. (12)On the occasion that antibiotics are not used, CHLORINE DIOXIDE is the alternative. (13)
WHAT DOES THAT DO TO THE NUTRIENTS IN THE PRODUCT?
By nature of extraction a product's nutrients should, for the most part, increase as they are concentrated. CGM, while concentrated, loses the majority of nutrients in extraction due to its use as a food product being its secondary, not primary, job. Vets are often taught that Corn Gluten Meal is a source of high protein and nutritious amino acids… here’s how it compares to whole corn:
IT SEEMS LIKE SOME OF THAT STUFF MIGHT BE TOXIC. IS THAT TRUE?
As previously mentioned, Sulfur Dioxide is registered by the EPA as a toxic chemical substance, therefore, it’s important to know the concentration of Sulfur Dioxide in products that are fed to pets. The end process of Corn Gluten Meal results in Sulfur Dioxide concentrations between 0.33-0.73% dry matter, which is considered to be higher than the upper safe limit for cattle. (14)
What does that mean in terms of toxicity?
5 parts per million (ppm) of Sulfur Dioxide is the permissible exposure limit in California and there is “no data available” evidencing its safety when ingested. However, only 1 ounce of Corn Gluten Meal contaminated with the manufacturers stated low exposure threshold of 0.33% would contain 94 ppm of Sulfur Dioxide – or 19 times the permissible exposure limit (207 ppm on the high end, 41 times permissible exposure).
How much could be in your pet’s food to be in a safe range?
We know that the last ingredients of a pet food, the vitamins and minerals, comprise under 2% of the product. So, if Corn Gluten Meal were listed as the last ingredient on the product next to vitamins and minerals, evidencing that it only comprised about 3% of your pet’s food, then in every 3.5 ounces of your pet’s food, he or she would be consuming 15.9 ppm of Sulfur Dioxide, over 3 times the permissible exposure limit.
While virtually no studies have been done on Sulfur Dioxide toxicity, known side effects of exposure include central nervous system disorders, blindness, incoordination, seizures and copper deficiency (which can result in a suppressed immune system and impaired cardiac function). (15)
Additionally, Corn Gluten Meal contains 0.9-1.1% Phosphorus (15). Studies on Phosphorus poisoning in dogs shows that levels of 1.17-1.24% are usually fatal and, at a minimum, will increase the formation of urinary calculi unless calcium is added in quantity. (16)
THAT’S A LOT OF CHEMICALS, HOW IS IT REGULATED?
Sulfur Dioxide is considered hazardous by the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200), Clean Air Act 112, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1990 TSCA 8(a) CDR, and is forbidden to travel on cargo/passenger aircraft/rail/ship under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations 2.13-2.17(Class 2), 2.40-2.42(Class 8). Corn Gluten Meal, as a carrier of this ingredient, has gained itself placement on the same regulatory platforms.
MSDS reporting shows that data on toxicity, mutagenicity, carcinogenicity, reproductive toxicity, teratogenicity and specific target organ toxicity is “not available” meaning they really don’t know the effects on the body in short- or long-term exposures to this product. Additionally, numerical measures of toxicity and acute toxicity estimates are listed as not available. (17) However, in the State of California it is known to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. Because it has not been deemed to cause these concerns, it is considered “innocent until proven guilty” and is therefore generally recognized as a safe ingredient. (18)
HOW IS THAT ALLOWED?
The last time this ingredient was assessed was in 1960, 12 years before DDT was banned due to toxicity concerns. (5) Our culture has come a long way in caring about, and suffering from, the repercussions of chemical use since 1960 and a simple reassessment of this ingredient (and ingredients that utilize this chemical cocktail) would surely raise some eyebrows.
WHAT ARE THE USES FOR CORN GLUTEN MEAL?
- Killing rodents & pests, (6)
- Killing weeds, (7)
- a “high protein” ingredient in pet/agricultural feeds, particularly Prescription Pet Foods.
ARE THERE OTHER INGREDIENTS LIKE THIS?
Yes. The majority of ingredients in pet foods must be looked at from a regulatory and sourcing perspective to have an understanding of what they really are. As they always say, if you can’t pronounce it, it’s probably not healthy. In pet food you have to take this a step further and recognize that highly refined products such as kibble and canned pet foods, like potato chips and other refined foods for humans, are not capable of containing the beneficial nutrients found in whole, fresh foods. To learn more about pet food ingredients from a regulatory and sourcing perspective follow https://FoodRegulationFacts.com
HOW COULD MY VET RECOMMEND THIS?
Vets are taught by companies that profit from the use of these types of by-products and these companies must defend their ingredient choices by “educating” Veterinarians that sell their products of the benefits of corn. Unfortunately, end stage products such as Corn Gluten Meal are a far cry from the original product. Claiming that ingredients such as Corn Gluten Meal have any similarity to Corn is equal comparing the nutritional value of Corn Gluten Meal to the nutritional value of a PLA (Polylactic Acid – starchy plastic alternative) bottle. While plastic substitutes like PLA can be made from fermenting plant starch, that hardly renders them nutritious and certainly does not render them medicinal for the diseases that are claimed to benefit from the use of prescription pet foods that use them.
An article in Vetfolio about Corn Gluten Meal educates vets that while corn is lower protein than broccoli, Corn Gluten Meal is higher protein than beef. Yet they don’t reference that the reason for that is that the protein portion of the corn that ends up in Corn Gluten Meal is a trash residue sourced from the biodiesel industry. (19)
1) Agricor (765)662-0606
2) Wet vs Dry Milling http://blog.amg-eng.com/corn-wet-milling-vs-dry-milling/
3) AAFCO Official Publication 2017, page 388
4) AAFCO Official Publication 2017, page 407
5) Banning of DDT https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DDT
16) www.ncgi.nlm.nih.gov Secondary phosphorus poisoning in dogs. Gumbrell RC