Originally published on Yahoo.voices February 21, 2010
It's been three years since the largest recall of pet foods occurred during March of 2007 in which 67 brands of cat food and 64 brands of dog food where recalled. These pet foods had one thing in common, they were all processed and manufactured by the Canadian company of Menu Foods. These brands included not only the lower priced store label brands such as White Rose, America's Choice, Foodtown that that are found in supermarkets, but also included the higher priced brands such as IAMS, Mighty Dog, Nutro Max Gourmet Classics and so forth. The culprit turned out to be an additive known as melamine and contaminated wheat gluten imported from China; thousands of cats and dogs were horribly sickened and many even died as a result. Then, in September of 2008, not only Pedigree, but 13 other brands of pet foods were recalled of more than 50 dry food kibble type pet foods due to salmonella contamination.(1) One has to wonder what is going on with the pet food industry. Not only are we hearing of more and more recalls of food for human consumption due to some kind of contamination, such as salmonella, e. coli and Listeria, but there also seems to more and more pet foods affected as well. After all these recalls, pet owners are naturally very concerned about the food they give their pets since so many pet owners, myself included, view our pets as part of the family, even as "furry" children, and the reason why many of us call our beloved pet companions "furbabies". We want to be ensured that the food we give our pets is not only of optimum quality, but healthy for them. However, with all the recent pet food recalls due to contamination issues, this isn't the only thing pet owners should be concerned about, but what exactly goes into pet foods to begin with. Have you ever wondered, for instance, just what is meant by "meat by products", an ingredient found in all commercially processed pet foods? Do you really want to know? What I found out was enough to make my stomach turn and get queasy, and it's no wonder our pets often beg us for a scrap of the food that we eat.
The true meaning of meat by products:
If you're a pet owner, get up right now and grab a can of the pet food you have and start reading the ingredients. I have a can of Fancy Feast Chicken Feast flavor cat food in front of me at the moment. I'm not going to rattle off all the ingredients but basically here is what it says: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Liver, Meat-By-Products, Fish (yes it says fish for some reason), Poultry-By-Products, Artificial and Natural Flavors and on and on, where it then continues to list all the vitamin and chemical additives including Sodium Nitrate.
Now it doesn't matter whether the flavor of commercially manufactured canned pet food is chicken or beef, the pet owner is assuming that prime cuts of chicken, such as chicken breasts or legs are used in chicken flavored pet foods, just as one might be expecting that prime cuts of beef, on par in what we eat are used for beef flavored pet foods. Not so. Instead, what commercially processed chicken flavored pet foods use are the parts of the chicken we would normally never think of eating, and these are the "Poultry-By-Products", such as chicken heads, backs, feet, intestines, beaks, entrails, lungs, spleens, kidneys, brains, and so forth. Beef flavored pet foods, aren't much better, since instead of USDA prime high quality cuts of beef, what is used are cow brains, tongues, esophagi, viscera and even fetal tissue, so in effect "Beef-By-Products".(2)
Dry kibble type pet food doesn't fair much better either, since the vast make up of dry foods for pets consist of grains. To give an example, I happen to have a 3 lb. bag of Whiskas Purrfectly With Chicken & Salmon dry food. Among the ingredients listed are: ground whole corn, ground whole wheat, gluten meal, and soybean meal. Now just why any kind of grains are added are a mystery since cats and dogs are carnivores and grain products aren't a natural food source for them. What's worse is that the more frequent recalls we've been hearing about with dry foods comes not only as a result of possible contamination from salmonella, but due to the fact that the grains used for dry pet foods are those not used for human consumption due to mold, inferior quality and poor handling practices. (3) There is another concern one should have when it comes to feeding dry kibble type pet food, and that is one should never moisten dry type pet foods as mentioned in the Born Free USA Website. Supposedly any bacteria that may have existed in the processing of dry pet food is killed off, yet can be re-released, and multiply if moistened with water, milk or even adding to canned pet foods. I've know many a pet owner who will mix the dry with wet pet foods thinking that they are giving a more nutritious meal to their pet. (4)
We humans who are getting more and more health conscious would never, ever think of eating such low quality food as this as it would probably be the equivalent of eating nothing but junk foods all the time, and yet, that is exactly what we are doing when we feed our pets commercially processed pet foods, whether canned or dry foods. The bottom line is that there isn't any true nutritional value to commercially processed foods, which is one of the reasons for all those added vitamins in pet foods. We have here the same equivalent of all those added vitamins to the lesser quality, junk type cereals for humans to make people think they are getting a daily recommended dosage of vitamins. The real alarming fact according to the Food Not Fit For A Pet book by Dr. Wendell O. Belfield, D.V.M in which excerpts are quoted at the Shirleys Wellness Cafe website is that that our pets aren't living as long as they should, nor as healthy and more and more pets are developing cancers, arthritis and heart disease more than previously(5)
Now here is where one may get a queasy stomach and you may not even want to read the rest of this article, but I urge you to do so if you want your pet to live a long healthy life. One needs to know what is in your beloved pet(s) food. Among the other ingredients that are used that I've cited are also diseased animals, not only the downed cows at farm factories, but also diseased chickens, ducks, fish, and so forth, however, roadkill is also used, yes roadkill. Also, one has to consider too, the idea that farm animals raised for human consumption are often pumped up with antibiotics, pesticides, and hormones, thus, your pet is getting doses of antibiotics and other chemicals as well in their food. While the ingredients I've cited so far for pet foods, as disgusting as they may sound to you, is nothing compared to the other ingredients that are used and here is the true meaning of "meat-by-products" and it's the pet foods dirty shocking secret. I watched with disgust a YouTube Video that was filmed and taken by an undercover investigator called "What's REALLY In Your Pet's FOOD?
Did you ever wonder what happens to your beloved pet when you take it to the vet to be put down or when it has died of old age? Unless you have arranged to have the pet buried or cremated there are "collectors" who make the rounds to veterinary clinics and hospitals who collect the dead pets that are in body bags that are labeled "regular disposal" and have been kept in freezers. These collectors not only collect the dead pets from veterinary clinics and hospitals, but also the euthanized animals, whether euthanized by injection or from kill shelters that still put animals down by gas chamber as well.
In the video, it cites the West Coast Rendering Plant of Los Angeles, California, but there are rendering plants in every state of America and in every country in the world. I watched as all the bodies of the dead pets are then dumped in large barrels at the "rendering" plant and there must have been over 40 of these barrels filled to the top with the dead bodies of dogs and cats. The workers then remove the body bags and the dead pets are stacked on top of each other at the "pit" as it's called. The undercover investigator filming this video is seen taking off collars of some of the dogs that still have them on. The dead cats and dogs are then placed in "The Grinder"--and it sounds exactly like what it implies, a large grinder similar to a gigantic meat grinder, and yes, its the dogs and cats being ground up.
What is even more sickening is the fact our own US Food and Drug Administration's Center For Veterinary Medicine, while not sanctioning its practice, they are none the less aware of what is going on and of the usage of rendered animals including dogs and cats as part of the pet food industry, yet they don't take steps to stop the practice.(6) Here's a direct quote from the FDA Website itself about pet food products:
"There is no requirement that pet food products have pre-market approval by the FDA. However, FDA ensures that the ingredients used in pet food are safe and have an appropriate function in the pet food. Many ingredients such as meat, poultry and grains are considered safe and do not require pre-market approval. Other substances such as sources of minerals, vitamins or other nutrients, flavorings and preservatives, or processing aids may be generally recognized as safe."(7)
In other words, while to a certain extent, pet foods are regulated by the FDA (as well as other similar government agencies worldwide), the ingredients don't have to have full approval, in other words anything goes and this should infuriate and disgust the pet owner who may have had no idea what was going into their beloved pet's food. Now supposedly, according to an up-date on the Cat Food Uncovered article it states that "many pet food manufacturers in the USA are no longer using sources of meat that had previously given cause for concern." (8) However, note, it says many, not all, so one still doesn't know exactly what is in pet food nor does the pet owner know for sure which commercially processed pet foods still use these horrific ingredients.
So what is the answer? Should one turn to the more organic types of pet foods? This should be up to the pet owner to make such a decision and it would be wise for the pet owner to investigate what organic types of pet foods are available. There is a very good listing of organic types of pet foods here. The main question however, are they safer? Sadly, perhaps not, and even a pet rescuer friend of mine said they aren't much better either. Just recently, on February 10th of this year, the more organic type of pet food made by Nature's Variety began a recall of their Chicken Formula Raw Frozen Diet pet foods for cats and dogs and the culprit was due to possible Salmonella contamination.(9) and this isn't an isolated incident as there have been recalls of other organic pet foods as well over the years.
If you have read this article in its entirety and watched the video I hope it gets you outraged and disgusted. I know I was as I had no idea about what went into commercially prepared pet foods. It was bad enough to find out that animal parts not fit for human consumption are used in pet foods, but the idea that I might be feeding my two cats someone's former pet is a horrifying thought. Hopefully this article will inspire and encourage you to take action in the form of contacting not only the US Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine, but also your politicians and voice your opinions for better regulation of the pet food industry. Would you feed your infants or children inferior food? So why should we be feeding our pets such foods?
Maybe as pet owners we should seriously consider going back to cooking food for our pets and giving those scraps from the dinner table. Years and years ago, I used to make my own version of strained meat baby type food. I would cook up chicken (or turkey or beef), then once done, take the meat off the bone of the chicken or turkey, or cut up the beef into smaller pieces and place the meat into a blender then add some of the broth and blend everything. All I can say, is that my cats couldn't get enough of it. I'm beginning to think it's high time I did that again.
ARTICLES ABOUT PET FOOD RECALLS/CONTAMINATION:
Pet Food Recall (1)
Salmonella in Pet Food(9)
Pet Food Recalls
Pet Food Recalls
ARTICLES ABOUT WHAT IS IN PET FOODS:
Shirley's Wellness Cafe(5) (6)
Precious Pets(2) (3)
Born Free USA(4)
Commercial Pet Foods
Pet Food Ingredients
Cat Food Industry(8)
Ingredients in Pet Foods
List of Organic Pet Foods
THE FDA REGULATIONS
FDA regulations in Pet Foods(7)
Undercover Video of Rendering Plant
Video About What's in Pet Foods