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aimee
Participant

Hi Madelyn,

I agree beefcheek is white after cleaning just as it is before it is cleaned. If you do not want to offer hide as a chew, then do not chose a chew that lists beefcheek as an ingredient since beefcheek is hide.

AAFCO does not address the labeling of dog chews. Manufacturers can make whatever claims they want, it is only if the chew claims to be food that an AAFCO definition can be enforced by the state, but enforcement is virtually nonexistent.

I agree that transparency from a company is desired, unfortunately inquiries regarding processing are often unanswered. For example, Redbarn replied to my inquiry saying they use “proprietary manufacturing procedures” and a “proprietary process”. I did not find that helpful.

It is understandable that people are concerned about the processes used at the tannery.
Fearmongering is rampant. For example, lye (NaOH) is a compound a tannery may choose to dehair the skin. Understandably the knee jerk reaction to that is that AWK!. But did you know is that pretzel dough is dipped in lye before baking to get that nice brown carnalized crust. “Scary” processes can become less scary when put into context. Rarely do I see it discussed that the same material from the tannery that is used to make rawhide can be used for human food production if the tannery has USDA oversite.

Rawhide and beefcheek are untanned skin; leather is tanned skin. I suspect leather is less digestible than rawhide, because tanning crosslinks the collagen. Prior to tanning, the processes used make it easier for tanning compounds to penetrate the skin. I suspect this may also increase the ability of digestive enzymes to penetrate. Who knows, it could be that skin that has been prepared for tanning is more, not less digestible than skin that hasn’t undergone these processes.

If I wanted to get someone to buy a traditional rawhide over beefcheek I could capitalize on that point and spin it further by saying beefcheek is full thickness skin from an area on the cow that has the thickest and densest skin. The collagen fibers are tightly packed together limiting the penetration of digestive enzymes. Rawhide is not only thinner than beefcheek which makes digestion easier, but that dense top layer has been removed allowing for better penetration of digestive enzymes. Combing those attributes with the human food production process used to promote deep penetration of digestive enzymes is what makes rawhide digestibility much higher than that of beefcheek and makes it a far better and safer chew than beefcheek…. It is all marketing spin.

Reality is rawhide is digestible; Beefcheek is digestible. Taken as a group neither is more or less digestible than the other. If the statement that “skin[rawhide] is turned into something that our dogs’ digestive system isn’t capable of recognizing and digesting ” was true there wouldn’t be multiple published studies reporting digestibility of rawhide as high as 99%.

Both digest slowly which is why if a large piece of either product is swallowed an obstruction may occur. To state that one is more digestible or safer than the other is IMO without basis and can endanger dog’s lives. Heck some beefcheek chews state right on the label that the product can cause an obstruction.

I personally only use skin based chews that have been sourced from and produced in the Unted States where processes may be more stringent than other countries. And I only use large flat flexible sheets to minimize chance of tooth breakage and my dogs only have access under direct supervision.

I completely agree with your final paragraph.