Corn Gluten Meal sounds a lot like some sort of corn derivative. When I think of it I think, “well I know it’s not just corn… it sounds like it’s a fractionated corn product, consisting of the glutenous portion and smashed down into a less nutritious meal.” It took me 15 years in this industry to find out that I couldn’t be further from the truth.
AAFCO references to Corn Gluten Meal. Page 388 and page 407
Page 388 states that Corn Gluten Meal may be classified under section 22.5 Processed Grain by-product. There is no notable definition for a Processed Grain by-product but we’ll look into that on another day.
Page 407 states under number 48.14 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 of corn starch or syrup (so after another industry has already used what they want from the product to make corn starch and corn syrup… both refined products), or by enzymatic treatment of the endosperm. It may (but is not required to) contain fermented corn extractives and/or corn germ meal. (Adopted 1936, Amended 1960).
… those are the only two references in the AAFCO Official Manual. Note that there is no specification defining the source of Corn Gluten Meal or segregating it from any other product labeled as Corn Gluten Meal (this is really important to remember).
In regards to AAFCO definitions…. What is “dried residue”? How many nutrients are even left in the Corn Gluten Meal after the “larger part of the starch and germ…. bran… corn starch or syrup” have been removed? What is the “wet milling” process? What kind of “enzymatic treatment? What is a “fermented corn extractive”?
I wasn’t sure where to go to find these answers so the first thing I tried was Googling, “Purchase Corn Gluten Meal.” I came to this website https://www.webstaurantstore.com/50-lb-agricor-fine-yellow-cornmeal/104CMYLWFN.html?utm_source=Google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=GoogleShopping&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI2c-IrP-B1wIVmrrACh2umg8WEAQYAiABEgJPbfD_BwE . The problem is that this is a Dry Milled Corn Product, not Corn Gluten Meal. After an extraordinary amount of internet searching I realized that purchasing of Corn Gluten Meal is not a real thing… you can’t do it online. So what is this stuff? I went back to the website linked above and just thought, “you know what? I’m just gonna call these people and ask for it…. I can tell them I’m making a dog food or something if they ask.” So I called Agricor (765)662-0606 and the lovely gentleman that I spoke to had some very interesting information for me.
When I asked him if I could purchase Corn Gluten Meal from him he said, “Oh no, we don’t deal with that stuff… that’s an entirely different INDUSTRY.” After a little further discussion he explained that Corn Meal and Milled Corn are what you get when you take normal corn and grind it up while, “Corn Gluten Meal is derived from a CHEMICAL PROCESS in the Wet Milling Industry.” To my dismay,Corn Gluten Meal is actually considered a “chemical process” and is not even manufactured in association with the Corn industry.
After a bunch of research it turns out that Corn Gluten Meal has a lot of non-food uses and is actually used for killing rodents and pests!!! (But it’s also in your dog and cat foods… especially prescription ones)
Mouse X and Rat X are Corn Gluten Meal products used for killing rodents: https://www.ecoclearproducts.com/
It’s also used for killing weeds: https://www.espoma.com/product/weed-preventer/
We can all agree that weeds, mice and rats are all pretty hard to kill… but, again, this is marketed to veterinarians as a “nutritious” ingredient in popular pet food products.
As it turns out, Corn Gluten Meal is registered by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as a Toxic Chemical Substance and is controlled as such under the Toxic Chemical Substances Control Act (TCSA) of 1990.
Surely this must be a different Corn Gluten Meal than the one registered for non-food use, right? ….
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