This post may contain affiliate links.
Two questions that come up here and there about raw suppliers is (1) where do they get their meat and (2) is it 3D or 4D meat. I saw this question come up a lot in Facebook raw feeding groups about Blue Ridge Beef. The theory is that their food is affordable because it’s 3D and 4D meat. The only sources I found were discussions in forums; there is no proof online that Blue Ridge Beef is selling 3D or 4D meat.
Recently, this question came up with another brand, which made me curious. My friend was furious at what she believes is the deliberate misrepresentation of a brand to hide the fact that the food they provide is 3D and 4D meat. As I started my research, I found that there are a lot of raw food suppliers who are providing discounted raw food for pets while not being honest about the origin (including one in Washington State).
What does 3D and 4D Meat Mean?
- Down (because of a broken leg, sickness, or refusal to stand)
If Meat is USDA Inspected, It Isn’t 3D or 4D, Right?
Wrong. In my reading, I learned that just because a facility is USDA inspected doesn’t mean that the meat is top quality. The inspectors are there to check the condition of the animals. They need to be able to walk on and off of the transport vehicles to be added to the human food chain.
Animals identified as 3D or 4D are sent off to make dog food (kibble). But some raw brands are buying it because it’s crazy cheap and they can slap USDA inspected on their site (and on the products), and many dog owners won’t know the difference.
What is Denatured Meat?
Denatured is what they do to the meat that isn’t meant for human consumption to prevent it from landing in the human food chain. They put liquid charcoal on the meat (or some other product). The charcoal is safe for dogs to consume (or so they say).
Green tripe could come from healthy cows or 4D animals; a lot of it is going to be denatured because green tripe isn’t for human consumption.
The Dangers of 3D and 4D Meat for Our Dogs
So just because meat (or a supplier) is inspected by the USDA doesn’t guarantee that the meat being provided to raw feeders isn’t 3D or 4D meat. In my opinion, this is something that should be stated on the site, however, if a supplier doesn’t see feeding this meat as a problem, then they won’t scare away potential customers (money) by admitting to selling diseased meat.
Why Raw Feeders Should Be Concerned
- You’re going to be hard-pressed to find a supplier that will admit to providing 3D and 4D meat. They’ll just dance around the topic or refuse to answer.
- One of the appeals of raw feeding is knowing exactly what we’re feeding our dogs. Personally, the raw food that I make for my dogs is made with healthy animals that come from ethical, humane farms. Our co-op does a great job of vetting our sources. When I’m not buying from a local farm that makes raw for dogs, I’m buying human grade meat (more expensive) for our dogs.
- We don’t want our dogs consuming an animal that is diseased, dying, down, or dead because we worry that the illness will transfer to our pets. Someone once told me that this isn’t an issue because very sick animals are turned away or don’t make it into the food chain for humans or animals. I think this is wishful thinking. There are too many companies that value revenue over customers, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they sell tainted products.
How Do You Find Out if Your Meat is Safe?
There isn’t a hard and fast way to find out if your meat is safe because people can lie. There’s no getting around it. Instead, I think it’s important that we work with suppliers who are transparent. I got a lot of information from MyPetCarnivore.com, the people there love animals and started feeding raw for the same reason the rest of us switch over – because they want to give their dogs a chance at a long, healthy life. Reading the information on their site is like reading from a fellow dog lover and not a cold corporation.
Look for this in the other brands you buy from and if you don’t have a good feeling or if they aren’t forthcoming when you have questions, move on. Fortunately, we live in a time where raw feeding is catching on, and there are more resources as farmers, butchers, hunters, and raw food suppliers are offering food for pets.
Of course, with this growth brings the opportunity for people to cut corners, but I believe social media will shine the light on them.
If you live in the Pacific Northwest, join the local raw food co-op WAZZUOR; they offer raw food, food from raw brands, dry and canned food, treats, toys, and other supplies that allow us to spoil our pets crazy.