AAFCO · Animals · Association of American Food Control Officials · Environmental health · FDA · Food and Drug Administration · Pet food · Pet food regulations

When Chicken Poop Is Pet “Food”


The US Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”), the US Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) and the Association of American Food Control Officials (“AAFCO”) regulate the ingredients and manufacture  of animal feed and pet “food.” (is it really “food” if it’s manufactured?) States also may have their own rules and regulations. The US Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) regulates the labeling of such “food.” Often, terms that seem innocuous really hide unhealthy and even toxic ingredients.

One such ingredient is chicken feces (i.e., poop) which is labeled “dried poultry litter.” AAFCO defines it as: “a processed animal waste product composed of a processed combination of feces from commercial poultry together with litter that was present in the floor production of poultry…” [emphasis added]


Why would poultry poop be allowed in pet “food” you may very well wonder. The answer is simple: follow the money trail. A University of Missouri paper which discusses its use in cattle feed (yup, the beef you’re eating was fed chicken poop as well) provides the answer:

The large quantities of litter produced during modern poultry production are expensive to dispose of safely; moreover, protein is typically the most expensive ingredient in ruminant diets. Feeding poultry litter is a means of disposing of a waste product while concurrently supplying a low-cost protein feed to beef cattle.” Feeding Poultry Litter to Beef Cattle

Feeding chicken poop to cats and dogs is another way to profit from a waste product, no matter how much it’s “cleaned up.”

Notice that the University of Missouri advises not to feed chicken poop within 21 days of slaughter not because it could be unhealthy but because: “the residues of certain pharmaceuticals used in poultry production may be present in poultry litter.” And you thought chicken was free of antibiotics (which is the chicken feed) or other drugs.

Notice also that poultry litter can and does contain “foreign objects” which the University of Missouri advises should be removed because…well, it “can result in decreased animal performance.

“Poultry litter should be free of any metal, glass, rocks, and other foreign objects if it is to be fed to beef cattle. These materials are usually incorporated into the poultry litter during removal, loading, and transport of the poultry litter from the poultry production facility. Care must be taken to avoid incorporating foreign objects into poultry litter intended for cattle feed. Accidental consumption of metal objects or glass by beef cattle can result in decreased animal performance and death. Metal can be removed from poultry litter with magnetic plates on the discharge chute of a mixer wagon. Producers feeding small numbers of cattle can pass the litter through a screen to remove large objects.” [Emphasis added]

Whether they are removed or not… well, that costs money.

Of course, given that it is… well poop, it contains several toxic pathogens such as: “Salmonella typhimurium, Escherichia coli, or Clostridium botulinum” which “usually results from inclusion of animal carcasses.” That is, the bodies of dead chickens which fall to the floor of the coop and lay there to decompose. The University of Missouri does specify how to eradicate these pathogens. Again, whether that is done or not…well, lots of pet “food” is recalled for salmonella contamination so you be the judge.

The list of ingredients and additives allowed by the FDA can be found in Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations (“21 CFR“) known as the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. AAFCO publishes its official guide yearly and it can be purchased on line for $70 (members) or $125 (non-members).

This 4-legged is grateful that his 2-legged feeds him human-grade organic ingredients that are home cooked with love.

Healthily yours,



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