Source of Deception
What you need to realise is that most pet food companies are owned by agribusiness conglomerates: production of pet feed presents an opportunity to turn discarded food components such as spoiled, inedible grains, beverage industry wastes, and slaughterhouse offal (dictionary definition: “refuse” “rubbish” and “garbage”) or carrion (dictionary definition: “dead or putrifying flesh”) into profit, in order to weave sustainability and necessary “least cost mix” protocols throughout their organizations.
The food waste management market is huge! The global food waste management market in the United States was valued at USD 30.00 billion in 2016 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 5.97% to reach USD 42.37 billion by 2022, according to Markets & Market research.
When you buy that bag of McKibble or can of McCan wet feed, the substance of the ingredients might have a different claim to it than the source. The “powdered” protein used to make the McKibble biscuit can be a combination of many denatured or rendered protein sources, the “beef” “chunks” in McCan reassembled sources of protein powder and flour to make it look like “chunks“.
“Rendering” and “Least Cost Mix” protocols
Rendering companies that process ingredients for pet feed manufacturers can secure supplies from salvage food brokers. These are companies who broker spoiled, rotting ingredients (“distressed or reconditioned distressed merchandise”) so that they can be converted into stable, “value added” materials.
In the United States, some states even regulate the practice, defining salvage as: “any food, drug, device, or cosmetic that has been subjected to prolonged or improper storage, loss of label or identity, or abnormal environmental conditions such as extremes in temperature, humidity, smoke, water, fumes, pressure, or radiation that are due to natural disasters or otherwise, or that may have been rendered unsafe or unsuitable for human consumption or use for any other reason.”
Instead of destroying it, (example: bread and cereal rejects, such as cobs, stalks, and mill sweepings), salvage food brokers can help sell it to pet food manufacturers. This “recycling” is defended in a self-congratulatory way by the pet food industry as supporting environmental “sustainability” through “customized, specialized… nutritional…pet food solutions.”
Recycling the Garbage…
This waste includes undeveloped eggs, intestines, udders, heads, lungs (perhaps congested with pneumonia or bronchial bacteria), brains, hooves, hair & feathers, cirrhotic or worm-invested livers (“liver flukes”), “viscera”; rotted, diseased and cancerous tissues, drug injection sites (“stick marks”) and bone matter cut away from healthy slaughtered animals or salvaged from zoos or research laboratories; as well as bagged or crated roadkill and corpses from animal shelters, veterinary clinics or pest control companies (its cost-effective: to have the carcasses carted off instead of having the expense of incinerating the animal remains; and without removing the plastic bags), and foals from the Pregnant Mare Urine (PMU) industry (sourced for human hormone replacement therapy)… that have been processed into dry (powdered) “meals” by commercial rendering plants.
Red meat is a general term used for the animals such as cow (cattle), sheep, horses, pigs (porcine), buffalo, camels, goats etc.. The red meat by-products consist of soft meat, bones, horns, hoofs, hair, blood but can also consist of dead on arrival (DOA), de-boning residue and farm waste.
Poultry is a general term used for the animals such as chicken, turkey, ducks, geese etc.. The poultry by-products consist of soft meat, feathers, blood, and de-boning residue but can also consist of dead on arrival (DOA), de-boning residue and farm waste.
These plants – there are 286 in the US alone, seven meat and 20 poultry plants in South Africa (stats last updated 2014), who quietly dispose of more than 8,164,662 metric tons (18 billion pounds) of dead animals, fat and meat wastes annually in the United States – also pulverize plastics or heavy metals from pet collars and cattle ID tags, surgical pins, needles, or insecticide patches… In the UK, more than 1.75 million tons are rendered, producing 250,000 tons of fat and 400,000 tons of protein meal.
However, South Africa currently does not have much legislation or Acts dealing with the disposal and handling of waste, which also means that there are no official stats associated with waste in South Africa. What we do know, is that our rivers have become a dumping ground for some of this waste.
It Costs Money to Remove the Garbage …
Waste also enfolds the salvaged mixed species carcasses of “4-D” (dead, dying, diseased, or “downed”) animals; (see below: often the term “destroyed” is exchanged for downed). Referred to as by-products, this waste can include rancid restaurant oils and grease, expired / past-date supermarket meats, spoiled fish or poultry by the truckload: still in their original styrofoam trays, shrink wrap, or cardboard boxing—its time consuming to separate it— and anything remaining of decomposed (and insect infested) animal corpses after the parts destined for human consumption (or any more commercially lucrative use) have been removed.
In fact, the US National Renderers Association simply identifies tissue as from “fallen animals,” not even regarding specific species, and: not qualifying the term “fallen.”
Profit-driven desperation to bring these animals to the slaughterhouse door and into the food supply-chain is so intense, that horses and cattle that are sick and near death (unable to stand or walk: known as “downers”) are commonly tortured to force them to rise or keep moving.
But even beforehand, they are pumped with synthetic growth hormones (zeranol, trenbolone acetate and melengestrol acetate) and antibiotic drugs (arsenic, erythromycin, penicillin, procaine, streptomycin and, trimethoprim are examples) to combat the effects of stressful, overcrowded, and filthy conditions of factory farming production.
Arsenic is used to control parasites and stimulate growth in poultry factory farming environments, also known as confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). In the US, some 14,000 metric tons (29.9 million pounds) of antibiotics were sold in 2011 for meat and poultry production–compared with the 7.7 million sold for human use (FDA: 2011 NARMS Retail Meat Annual Report).
These drugs are further necessary to help negate the consequences of the fouled, recycled/waste product diets these unfortunate animals themselves are forced to consume. For example, consumers are generally unaware that, as a cost management issue, dried “Poultry Litter” is used in “animal feed”: which simply means that cows are fed floor sweepings containing chicken excrement… from chickens that ate cows.
Consumers are generally unaware that AAFCO defines as acceptable to be fed to cattle, dried “Poultry Litter”, or “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…”
Swept off floors of chicken cages and broiler houses, poultry litter is comprised of faeces, feathers, and uneaten chicken feed, and additionally would contain pharmaceutical residues, heavy metals, pathogenic bacteria, and even dead rodents.
This is an environmentally sound choice, according to a report from the University of Missouri: “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 [cattle] diets. Feeding poultry litter is a means of disposing of a waste product while concurrently supplying a low-cost protein feed to beef cattle.”
According to AAFCO “Standard Names and Definitions” animal waste in Poultry Litter must not contain “metal, glass (or) nails.” “Hog hair”, as a similarly categorized by-product, is regarded the same way.
Unquestionably, these drugs, as well as the infectious or contagious pathogens that killed the food-source animals, remain in their systems after slaughter. When cattle die, regardless if from transmittable disease, there is typically no sterilization: tissues taken from corpses may carry anthrax, botulism, lockjaw, tuberculosis, salmonella, BSE (“mad cow disease”), and other pathogens.
The US FDA allows these animal parts to be used in pet foods, assuming a “kill step” is undertaken (ordinarily through rendering) for regulatory non-compliance. Rendering is the process of boiling and separating fat that converts dead animals and animal parts that otherwise would be discarded into a variety of “value added” materials. The rendering plants are “monitored” (not inspected) by USDA which requires them to add charcoal to ensure its segregation from the human food chain; henceforth labelled: “unfit for human consumption.” And so we come to the pet food connection.
What does it take, to achieve the distinction of being categorized with dis-honour as “by-product?”
The rubbish bin of pet food “by-products” (yes… rendered ingredients are delivered to the factory in tanker and dump trucks) represents the lowest worth that can be assigned to an ingredient: nothing that has any minimal value will carry this designation if it can be used elsewhere and yield more profit. In that circumstance, it would not end up as “by-product”, but as something more specific: “chicken liver digest”, (hydrolysed flavour enhancer), “chicken broth”, etc.
Still-useful leftovers are typically not organ meats, and generally retrieved for products other than pet food. More plainly: each chicken only has one liver; but agribusiness manufacturers have many products, ranging from human foodstuffs and personal care products, to (at the bottom) pet food, competing for it. Unsurprisingly, the best and least damaged parts are directed to grocery store shelves: for people… and the rest goes… where?
Exclusive Rights: to Process “Garbage/refuse/rubbish” into Pet Food…
It’s true that a lost and starving dog raiding the chicken coop would surely ingest some feathers and a fair number of “by-products” in his meal. But there’s a significant difference in the nutritional profile of that dinner on the lam and what the luckless animal would have been given (with pride) from his guardian shopping at the grocery store: and he would be the better for it.
The 20% animal protein in that 14 kg (30 lb) bag often consists of only chicken feet, heads, bones and feathers (generally a mix of horse and cattle by-products as well): largely comprising those parts that are strictly not usable for anything else, except perhaps fertilizer, soap and solvents, and lard.
However, profit metrics for pet food are considerably more robust than any of those uses. In fact, Mars Inc. (Mars Petcare: US $17B sales in 2016) holds a patent (US 7,575,771 B2) for a procedure to process offal (dictionary definition: “garbage/refuse/rubbish” and: “waste or by-product”) into pet food.
A single Mars brand alone represents 10.9% of the total dry food market in the US (2017). In response to complaints about stiff “plastic shards / wires” in that product, the company responded: “Our team has conducted testing on affected kibble and determined these are natural fibers from meat and bone meal, like pig hair, that occur with products made using those ingredients. (It) is completely safe for your dog to enjoy.” Meat and bone meal (so-called because it is from animals of unidentified origin: or unnamed animals) is among the lowest quality ingredients that can be in a dog food.
In 2000, the US FDA concluded that: “There appear to be associations between rendered or hydrolyzed ingredients and the presence of pentobarbital in dog food. The ingredients Meat and Bone Meal (MBM), Beef and Bone Meal (BBM), Animal Fat (AF), and Animal Digest (AD) are rendered or hydrolyzed from animal sources that could include euthanized animals.”
In the UK the incorporation of meat and bone meal (MBM) in any farmed livestock rations was prohibited from 29 March, 1996.
Pentobarbital is a barbituate, used to sedate and euthanize cats, dogs, and horses.
Mars may define ingredient sourcing different than many consumers would expect – or, that federal law defines – declaring that dogs should actually prefer “garbage”: “By-products are the clean, internal organs, including liver, lungs, intestine, etc. In fact, when eating in the wild, dogs naturally gravitate toward the internal organs as their first choice of food. One reason may be because organ meats are a more highly concentrated source of essential nutrients, as compared to muscle tissues (meat), thus providing more nutrition to the dog.”
The term “clean” is simply used falsely; and the term “etc.” implies that the by-products are only internal organs. Mars also carefully describes “artificial preservatives” as “essential” and that “filler (ingredients)” are appropriate because they have a “specific purpose” in their products.
In 2017, Mars acquired VCA Inc.’s U.S. and Canada hospital and animal diagnostic imaging companies in a $9B transaction, adding to its reach from Banfield Pet Hospital (largest chain of veterinary hospitals in US: $774M US sales in 2017), Blue Pearl veterinary hospitals, and Pet Partners veterinary clinics (also: in Europe, Anicura AB; in the UK, Linnaeus). In this way, Mars-employed veterinarians diagnose and treat (with Mars veterinary prescribed products and foods) illnesses that their own products can create in their clients.
How long before they repeat this newly found formula and spread their tentacles to other countries to protect their interests?
You wouldn’t buy a food labelled “Slaughter House Waste Flavour Dog Food” … would you?
Is this the imagery peppering the bag of dog food (known as: “label presence”) a consumer totes home from the supermarket? More likely it is pictures of fresh whole chickens in a bucolic “farmhouse” setting: choice cuts of beef and pork, fresh grains… and the like, a “human grade“ cornucopia tumbling earthward in vivid colour across the package.
With $27 billion spent annually in the US on pet food at stake, millions are invested in research funded to determine how to make that package and the name of the pet food appealing (it may be more accurate to say, “legally deceptive“) to the consumer.
However, no long-term studies on the safety of these food components have been conducted; nor are they required. It seems reasonable to conclude that to perform them would yield results that would surely expose the manufactures to liability and hold potential to de-legitimize the rendering industries as places of honest business.
Still, some other types of studies are done: carefully categorized as so-called “nutritional research” – perhaps medically gruesome: naturally conducted in secret – including muscle tissue-sampling on live animals (vivisection); and laboratory-based (long-term / permanent) caged “feeding trials” to capture a palatability threshold (spraying dried kibble with taste- enhancing “top coat” recipes: carefully derived addictive slurries of rendered (heat-processed animal digest, fats, salts, and missing nutrients) that will encourage the dog to eat biologically inappropriate food which he would otherwise never touch. These fats account for the smell when the bag is opened).
But… no long-term nutritional testing, which would be “expensive” and is not legally required; and would likely expose shortcomings and lifetime medical costs of consuming an inappropriate, grain-based diet. The wandering dog we just discussed? Instinctively protein-starved: he’ll head for the chicken coop …not the corn silo.