The use of euthanized pets in pet food has been suspect for years. Now, Spain is in the middle of a full investigation that will finally prove the absolute worst horrors of pet food. It has been stated many of the pet foods involved “have international presence and some are among the most prominent of the animal feed industry.”
One of the first times we learned of the use of euthanized dogs and cats becoming rendered pet food ingredients was from Van Smith of the Boston City Paper. His story from September 1995 exposed the Valley Proteins animal rendering facility. ‘What’s Cookin’? Every Wonder What Happens to Dead Animals?’ can be read here.
In 2002, the FDA tested various dog foods (cat foods were not tested) purchased from store shelves in the Washington, DC area and found many to contain the euthanizing drug pentobarbital. The FDA stated the source of the euthanzing drug could only come from euthanized cats, dogs, or horses. However, DNA testing performed by the FDA found no cat DNA, no dog DNA, an no horse DNA. Despite inconclusive testing, the FDA stated no dogs or cats are rendered into pet food.
Note: The FDA has recently removed the numerous pages regarding their Risk of Pentobarbital in Dog Food report. I asked the FDA the reasoning behind removing these pages and was told it was due to normal deletion of dated materials. The FDA provided me with these reports which can be read…
Here for FDA Risk of Pentobarbital in Dog Food Report
Here for Appendix FDA Risk of Pentobarbital in Dog Food Report
Here for lab results of pet foods tested
Just in case you might think members of Congress have not been aware of the possibility of rendered euthanized pets in pet food…In 2004, on the heels of pet food consumer awareness to the horrors in pet food and at on the concerns of Mad Cow Disease, Congress requested an investigation of the rendering industry. The report – compiled by Congressional Research Services – told members of Congress…(bold added)
“Renderers convert dead animals and animal parts that otherwise would require disposal into a variety of materials, including edible and inedible tallow and lard and proteins such as meat and bone meal (MBM).2 These materials in turn are exported or sold to domestic manufacturers of a wide range of industrial and consumer goods such as livestock feed and pet food, soaps, pharmaceuticals, lubricants, plastics, personal care products, and even crayons.”
“Renderers annually convert 47 billion pounds or more of raw animal materials into approximately 18 billion pounds of products. Sources for these materials include meat slaughtering and processing plants (the primary one); dead animals from farms, ranches, feedlots, marketing barns, animal shelters, and other facilities; and fats, grease, and other food waste from restaurants and stores.”
In 2008 (however date not confirmed) former AAFCO President Hersh Pendell stated on video, “Fluffy” could be in pet food without any warning to the pet food consumer.
And now from what has been stated as an industry whistle blower tip, 15 tons of dead stray dogs filled a warehouse “which they believe were going to be processed into animal feed”. In other cities in Spain, “similar grisly discoveries in warehouses” have been found.
Another story (translated via Google translate) states buyers of the “meal” and “animal fat” were sold to “42 firms in Spain and abroad” include pet food companies. The buyers (bold added) “are dotted Galicia (where there are two cases), Murcia, Valencia, Barcelona, Toledo, Castellón, Cartagena, Zaragoza, Salamanca, Ciudad Real, Valladolid, Segovia and Caceres, and they even reach firms located in Portugal and Holland . In addition, many of the businesses have international presence and some are among the most prominent of the animal feed industry.”
In another story (translated by Google translate), regarding the euthanized dogs being used for cattle feed, an authority in Spain stated it “is “beyond logic” used “dog carcasses” for livestock feed that “in the end, humans consume.”
How can this happen?
There are millions of homeless pet euthanized each week in animal shelters. Millions in the U.S. alone. Most animal shelters cannot afford a crematory; proper burial is out of the question. Federal law prohibits the burial of euthanized pets (any animal) in land fills. (Read It’s Killing Eagles but FDA says it’s safe for our pets and this Fish and Wildlife report) So these millions of dog and cat bodies – each week – are picked up by a renderer. I’ll spare you the gory details. They ultimately become animal feed (including pet food) ingredients such as meat and bone meal, meat meal (generic), animal digest and animal fat. And as the Report to Congress told us, these ingredients sourced from euthanized dogs and cats become pet food, animal food, body lotions, and even children’s crayons.
Isn’t this illegal?
Yes, actually it is illegal per U.S. federal law for any food – animal or human – to be sourced from or contain any part of an animal that was not slaughtered. Section 402 (a)(5).
However, the FDA has provided the animal food and pet food industries loopholes to avoid federal law. These loopholes are known as Compliance Policies. Compliance Policy Guide (CPG) 675.400 says it all (however there are many more): “POLICY: No regulatory action will be considered for animal feed ingredients resulting from the ordinary rendering process of industry, including those using animals which have died otherwise than by slaughter, provided they are not otherwise in violation of the law.”
I’ve asked the FDA about the numerous loopholes provided to the pet food/animal food industry, the Center for Veterinary Management (CVM, division of FDA) has determined these horrendous ingredients are of “no risk”. And CVM “only looks at the risk”. In other words, if these ingredients killed people or pets, well then they would enforce the law.
The FDA Office of Surveillance and Compliance told me once they compare these Compliance Policies to speeding. Sort of…there are laws against it, but everyone does it. I replied: ‘speeding is still a violation of law – and speeding kills’.
Does this happen in U.S. pet foods?
Until solid DNA testing is done on U.S. manufactured pet foods we can only guess. Because the FDA allows rendered dogs and cats into U.S. pet food, we have to assume yes this does happen in U.S. pet foods and treats. I believe we are safe to assume many pet food manufacturers take full advantage of the non-enforcement of speed limits too.
Thanks to the whistle blower(s) within Spain, perhaps very soon we will learn the names of the companies involved.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author, Buyer Beware
Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
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