Friday, August 20, 2010

Still Ick

I've known this for years, but some still don't believe: it's perfectly possible for your inexpensive dog food to contain the rendered remains of cats and dogs, among other nasty stuff. But of course - where did you think the pentobarbital found in dog food comes from, exactly?

It's not uncommon for high-kill shelters and municipalities that pick up a lot of roadkill to sell the bodies to renderers, and for years the rose-tinted glasses set has insisted that the products that result would never, ever be sold in the US... right?

7 Comments:

Blogger PBurns said...

John -

This pentobarbital is not likely to be coming from pet euthanasias, when so many cattle and horse are dosed with Pentobarbital which is used for standing sedation on sick and injured animals, many of whom are likely to die later on and be rendered.

Google >> "pentobarbital standing sedation" and you will see.

The cow, horse and sheep population of this country is massive, and it is the major source of rendered animal fats for dog food, as slaughter houses can fill a train with offal, while the amounts that come from a shelter are more likely to go to the local incinerator or landfill.

Seriously -- the value of rendered fat from lean dog and cat bodies is probably not worth the gas to drive them to a rendering plant.

Rendered fats are not just going into dog food -- they are used in a lot of stuff, including stuff we use and apply to our faces, but the rendering breaks it down so much that it is nearly atomized. When those rendered fats are later cooked or baked (as in dog food) the resulting trace residue is not much of a health concern.

The risk with Pentobarbital is when sick and downer cow are moved to slaughter for direct (not rendered) consumption as meat. This probably happens quite a lot, but dilution in a million pounds of hamburger (and subsequent cooking on the grill) makes it a minimal health problem.

That said, the Humane Society of the U.S. has filed a False Claims Act lawsuit against one high-volume slaughter house in California that was filmed pushing downer cattle down a chute to be slaughtered for the school lunch program. DoJ has joined that lawsuit, and if there are assets to be collected, HSUS may make many millions of dollars off that investigation (the False Claims Act provides for tripple damages with awards of 15-25% to the whistleblower and their legal counsel).

Patrick

7:04 AM  
Blogger -J. said...

There is an enormous volume of evidence that cats and dogs are frequently sent to renderers, including statements directly from shelters. Most of southern CA including Los Angeles (and nearly all public facilities) use D&D Disposal also DBA West Coast Rendering and have for many, many years. In CA as it happens it's not a profit center for shelters, they pay to have the bodies removed.

I believe pentobarbital, when used for standing sedation (quite a low dose), clears the body relatively quickly via metabolization. I'm guessing this would make it unlikely as a source in pet food as you'd have to follow up the sedation with near immediate killing, which seems unlikely to happen too often. As you've said, the risks associated with pento getting into the food supply make it unlikely to be used to kill animals in a slaughterhouse facility where a bolt gun is handy. Standing sedation uses a very small quantity in comparison to execution, whereas the dogs and cats will have huge amounts in their systems relative to body weight and are disposed up in very large quantities - LA County alone sent 80,000 bodies to rendering in 2003.

MOST renderers who will talk about it on record - which isn't many - pinky swear that they would never, ever use dogs and cats in dog food and American cosmetics, among other products - evidently it's all food for farmed shrimp in Asia, according to them. But the fact remains that there is no law or regulation preventing them from doing so and most simply will not discuss their practices. If it's legal, easy, and cheap you can bet it's happening. Even if it's only two out of three you can bet it's happening, as with the downer cows in lunch meat. I'm not actually concerned about the health hazards of pento ending up in food in quantities of small ppb, but how it got there. Aside from the ick factor of feeding species their own, we've seen from cattle that it can have unintended consequences.

8:59 AM  
Blogger FrogDogz said...

Patrick writes:

Seriously -- the value of rendered fat from lean dog and cat bodies is probably not worth the gas to drive them to a rendering plant.

I can't speak to conditions at American rendering plants, but I can to those in Canada. Sean interviewed for a logistics position at a major rendering company, and during the plant tour he *saw* dead stock, which included dead pets, being off loaded for rendering.

The same company that picks up farm dead stock picks up dead pet from clinics and from the major firm that takes in pet bodies from clinics. They also pick up restaurant grease and fat. It all goes to same plant, and it all goes in the same mix.

Additionally, from what Sean was told it all comes out the same at the other end - there's no splitting of the batches into "this stuff is OK for N American pet food and cosmetics, and this stuff isn't".

It's not the *amounts* I find grotesque - it's not as if one pet is ok, but ten aren't. Any pets rendered down for pet food are seriously disturbing on a few levels.

10:44 AM  
Blogger YesBiscuit! said...

Any pet food - regardless of price - that lists non-specific sources in the ingredients (such as "meat meal", "animal fat") could possibly contain dogs, cats and/or anything else allowed by AAFCO. If you look at ingredient lists on various bags of pet food, you'll be surprised at how much some charge for mystery meat.

5:15 AM  
Blogger PBurns said...

Fascinating stuff, but there is simply NO EVIDENCE.

None. And I have looked.

This is a great story for 20/20 or 60 Minutes or even you local news story.

But there's no video tape that I can find.

It would be great for an invetigative news magazine like Mother Jones, but there's no article I can find.

Hundreds of REAL newspapers are left in this country, but no articles, no photos, no affidavits.

None.

These rendering plants have hundreds of low-paid workers, but no pictures come from them.

And it's not like we don't have pictures of other problems in the good chain is it?

The FDA which test for Phenobarnital also tests for dogs and cat DNA and says it has found .... NONE.

What there is is a very old (about 17 years now) article from a Baltimore City Paper written by a reporter who misunderstood what an illiterate plan worker said and ran with what was later confirmed to be wrong. All of the "dead dogs and cats in pet food" seems to be sources from this one article.

Now use common sense. To make pet food, you need hundreds of thousands of pounds of stuff -- cor, soy, yeast, vitamin e and yes fats. Who can supply that kind of stuff in volume and with consistency and quality control? Only one place: a rendering plant attached to a slaughter house. The independent rendering plants (there are very few left) make industrial greases for the most part.

Patrick

1:33 PM  
Blogger -J. said...

DNA altered or destroyed by rendering process. Pento and prions survive.

NYT (good enough?) reports 200 tons of dead dogs/cats sent by LA to rendering every month as per spokesperson for LA Dept of Sanitation:
http://www.nytimes.com/1997/03/11/science/fear-of-disease-prompts-new-look-at-rendering.html

Aricle also contains the quote "there are still a small number of plants that will render anything".

Like this one:
http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/0106-03.htm

http://articles.latimes.com/2002/jan/06/news/mn-20784

"We were asked to leave the [rendering plant] property before we could ask where it all eventually goes. But it soon became evident as a tanker truck made its way into the plant to be filled. The truck was from a southern Missouri company, its mission spelled out on the tank itself: "serving the pet food industry."

Common sense says that the end product of these plants is cheap and plentiful - after all, they get PAID to remove the raw material (Los Angeles, D&D - 200 tons PER MONTH), then they get to sell the product.

Don't trust an industry that's not only poorly regulated but violates existing laws with impunity. They're a secretive bunch. No wonder.

2:09 PM  
Blogger -J. said...

Ahhh, and here's the undercover video of pets being rendered. Thanks, YB:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wf0Eqxf5lD4

9:49 AM  

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