The Blood Business

After the blood flows down the drains of the killing floor, it’s collected in giant tanks. This crimson harvest is stored for only a short period to prevent terrible smells from developing. Specialised facilities and treatment plants come and take the blood away for processing.

Companies use the blood to make a variety of products that can benefit from its nourishing components. Food producers can use it to make blood sausage, or black pudding, which they sell to markets for human consumption. Chemicals in the blood make their way into cookies to provide iron fortification and into cakes to replace egg whites. Agricultural businesses will turn a lot of it into “blood meal”, a kind of animal fodder that also doubles as an ingredient for plant fertiliser.

Blood is a life-giving substance, even after slaughterhouses have harvested it from the vein. Animal blood is also an integral component of a lot of medical products. Cow’s blood contains bovine thrombin that can help with wound treatments; it can also attach skin grafts and it is a coagulant.

Waste Not, Want Not

Meat processing line

Other parts of animals that aren’t meat also have uses in different industrial sectors. Pet food companies collect solid parts, such as hair, beaks and feathers, and use them as ingredients. Gelatin comes from a soup of the bones, tendons and ligaments and is a component of candied jellies.

The cosmetic industry also takes its pick from the refuse. They use gelatin to make products, such as shampoos. Animal hooves and feathers contain keratin, another ingredient of shampoo but also of lotions and body scrubs. They render tallow from the fat to make creamy make-up and satiny lipsticks.

Blood is the substance of life. It flows in the veins of animals and people alike. Through innovations in chemistry and engineering, the blood that slaughterhouses shed no longer goes down the drains. Instead, it can flow once more, bringing life to every level of the food chain, from plants to animals to humans. And through this life becomes another by-product of the abattoir.