Several different groups at various levels of authority regulate pet food. Pet food is regulated by the FDA at the federal level under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. More specifically, within the FDA, the Center for Veterinary Medicine regulates “animal drugs, animal feeds, food additives and ingredients.” A non-governmental organization, the Association of American Feed Control Officials, sets nutritional standards, label requirements, and feeding trial protocols for pet foods. Additionally, each state may have its own animal feed regulatory agency which regulate pet foods sold or manufactured within their state.The Pet Food Institute, a trade group that represents roughly 97% of the U.S. pet food manufacturers, serves as the “voice” of the industry to Congress, state and federal agencies.With so many different groups regulating what goes into your animal’s mouth, one would assume that commercial foods are safe. How ironic then, that this over-regulation often results in misinformed owners with malnourished pets.
There are those who say the multi-billion dollar pet food industry is killing our pets. With millions of dollars to spend on promotion and hype, pet owners have become victims of their marketing ploys. The expression “It’s a dog eat dog world” is an apt description of the pet food industry. Pet food manufacturers have become masters at getting pets to eat things they would normally turn their nose up at. There are millions and millions of pounds of pet food sold in bags and cans every year. Ever wonder where they get all that “meat” and “fat” from? Do you really think they have their own ranches or farms and raise their own supply?
Oh hell no, they look to the many rendering plants across the nation to provide them with the tonnage they require on a regular basis.
We see pictures of whole grains, prime cuts of meat and human grade vegetables on the bag, and we assume there’s some chef in a pet food kitchen cooking up the best for our loved ones, unfortunately this is far from the truth. Most of what makes up dog and cat food comes from the rendering plant.
Millions of euthanized pets from humane shelters and veterinary hospitals all across the United States and Canada are being recycled back into pet foods. The city of Los Angeles alone sends 200 tons of dogs and cats to a local rendering firm every month. How does this come about? By a process called, rendering.
A rendering plant has a huge grinder that is filled up with whatever comes in. Some rendering plants are pickier than others, and some process ingredients in different batches to comply with state or local laws. But on the whole, most tend to dump in whatever they receive and start the grinder when it is full: parts from slaughterhouses, whole carcasses of dying, diseased or disabled farm animals, cats and dogs from shelters (euthanized shelter pets are often sent to rendering plants with plastic flea collars and ID tags still attached…rendering personnel say ” it’s too costly to take the time to cut off flea collars”), are all shoved into the shredding machine and these chemicals and other items are processed into the resulting meat mixture that is used in pet food. Also included in this toxic stew are zoo animals, road kill (deer, skunks, and raccoons, etc) and expired meat from grocery store shelves (tossed in fully packaged, complete with plastic wrap and Styrofoam, once again too costly for them to take the time to unwrap). Most of this material is called “meat and bone meal.” and it can be used in livestock feed, pet food, or fertilizer. It joins a long list of ingredients that you, without a doubt, prefer not to see in your pet’s food.
Some dog foods include the rendered bodies of euthanized dogs and cats. But the rendered bodies of euthanized animals aren’t the only things that are dangerous for dogs in pre-processed kibble foods. Corn is often used as a filler and is undigestible by dogs and cats…its utterly useless to them as a nutrient. Sawdust, old wheat husks, meat ‘meal’ which can be anything from cancerous and infectious animals to hooves, bones, feathers, beaks, claws, and slaughter floor sweepings. All go into cheap pet food. You can tell if your dog or cat food contains rendered products by reading the ingredients. If the food uses words such as “meat,” “animal” or “poultry” without specifying what type of meat or animal it is referring to, there is a good chance that it came from a rendering plant.
Since the first public awareness of rendered (cooked) euthanized dogs and cats, the Pet Food Industry has claimed this type of rendered material is not used in pet foods. However, to present day, there is no evidence or regulation to support that claim. This is simply inexcusable. If no pet food or pet treat contained ingredients sourced from rendered dogs and cats, pet food regulations would clearly state such ingredients are forbidden. They do not.
Aside from the disgust that your pet dog or cat is eating the processed remains of dead dogs and cats, there are even more serious health risks. The phenobarbital used in euthanasia has been found to remain in significant amounts in meat processed from euthanized animals.
So, please read the ingredients of every food, treat, or chew you provide your pet. Unless you wish to feed your dog or cat food made from cooked dogs or cats, or unless you wish to feed your pet numerous chemical residue contaminants, avoid pet foods, treats, and chews that contain any of the following ingredients…
Animal Fat: The rendered animals can be obtained from any source, so there is no control over quality or contamination. Any kind of animal can be included: “4-D animals” (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter), goats, pigs, horses, rats, misc. roadkill, animals euthanized at shelters, restaurant and supermarket refuse and so on.
Cellulose: Dried wood is the most common source for cellulose (I’m not kidding.). It is cleaned, processed into a fine powder and used to add bulk and consistency to cheap pet foods. I would consider this ingredient appropriate for termites, but certainly not for dogs or cats.
By-Products (any variation)
Meat and Bone meal: The animal parts used can be obtained from any source, so there is no control over quality or contamination. Any kind of animal can be included: “4-D animals” (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter), goats, pigs, horses, rats, misc. roadkill, animals euthanized at shelters and so on. It can also include pus, cancerous tissue, and decomposed (spoiled) tissue.
Beef & Bone Meal: A byproduct made from beef parts which are not suitable for human consumption. It can incorporate the entire cow, including the bones, but the quality cuts of meat are always removed. This is an inexpensive, extremely low quality ingredient used only to boost the protein percentage.
Animal Digest: A cooked-down broth made from unspecified parts of unspecified animals. The animals used can be obtained from any source, so there is no control over quality or contamination. Any kind of animal can be included: “4-D animals” (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter), goats, pigs, horses, rats, misc. roadkill, animals euthanized at shelters, restaurant and supermarket refuse and so on.
Digest: A cooked-down broth made from specified, or worse, unspecified parts of specified or unspecified animals (depending on the type of digest used). If the source is unspecified (e.g. “Animal” or “Poultry”, the animals used can be obtained from any source, so there is no control over quality or contamination. Any kind of animal can be included: “4-D animals” (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter), goats, pigs, horses, rats, misc. roadkill, animals euthanized at shelters, restaurant and supermarket refuse and so on.
BHA and BHT: Banned from human use in many countries but still permitted in the US. Possible human carcinogen, apparently carcinogenic in animal experiments. The oxidative characteristics and/or metabolites of BHA and BHT may contribute to carcinogenicity or tumorigenicity.
Blood Meal: An inexpensive protein booster. You have no way of knowing what type of animal the blood came from or what residues of hormones, medications or other substances are in this product. It has a better use as fertilizer than as a dog food ingredient.
Liver Meal: Whenever the word ‘meat’ or the name of an organ appear by themselves (without a species) on a pet food label, there is no way to know which kind of animal it came from. It could be horse liver, goat, duck, pig, or even skunk or other animals of questionable origin.
Poultry Meal: The fowl can be obtained from any source, so there is no control over quality or contamination. Any kind of animal can be included: “4-D animals” (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter), turkey, chicken, geese, buzzard, seagulls, misc. roadkill, birds euthanized at shelters and so on.
There are many other suspect ingredients, but for now….when you see the ingredients above on a dog food label, you may want to strongly consider purchasing another product.
The very labels that are supposed to let us know just what is in the food we feed are open to an amazing amount of artistic licence, thanks to AAFCO’s regulations. A consumer who buys a food named “Tom’s Gourmet Delite with Lamb and Rice” may very well assume that “Lamb and Rice” are the primary ingredients of this food – after all, it seems to clearly say just that on the label. In actuality, the addition of “With” to the label means the manufacturers are only required to include lamb and rice as 3% of the total food ingredients. If this food was labelled “Johnny’s Lamb and Rice Dog Food”, AAFCO would require the Lamb and Rice combined to comprise 95% of the total ingredients (excluding water used for processing) – a very big difference for such a small word.
The most visible name brands are really the ones you need to watch out for, the pet food brands that are mass-distributed to supermarkets and discount stores.
If you buy your pet food from one of these type stores, you are most likely buying this hazardous mix for your pet as these are the places where the cheaper (although big name) brands of pet food are sold.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are some good dog foods out there and the old adage applies, you get what you pay for…you just more than likely will not find that food at the places listed above.
Reading and understanding the labels can be a bit tricky and are probably meant to be that way by the manufacturers of the cheaper (but big name) brands, but now you should have some info at your disposal to make a more informed decision on what you choose to feed your pets.