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Comments on pet foods NOT on recall list (page 2)

by Therese on April 1, 2007

in Pet Food Recall, Pet Health, Pet Sitting

** For a list of pet foods NOT on the recall list, see this post. **

This is page 2 of comments on the pet food recall (continued from page listing pet foods NOT on the recall list.)

Go to page 3 of comments to read or post comments.

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Therese April 2, 2007 at 11:18 am

Donna, the link’s still there. It’s up at the top over to the right, highlighted in yellow.


Donna West April 2, 2007 at 11:43 am


Another company that is not on the recall list and therefore should be on your list of safe foods is Three Dog Bakery, http://www.threedogbakery.com. Their food is not made by Menu. It is also FDA approved!


Homer April 2, 2007 at 11:46 am

To Donna and all,

I agree. It will be interesting to see what’s really in our pet’s food that’s causing the problems. Let’s hope not, but there could be more than one tainted ingredient. I still wonder about the rat poison, though. Stored grain is treated for insects and rodents. Seems like it would be easy to use the wrong poison, use too much, or to not let the poison adequately dissipate before it gets into the food chain.

FDA should reveal the name(s) of all companies who purchased the suspect wheat gluten. Del Monte has stated that they purchased “food grade” gluten from the China company.

I’d like to know who else purchased the gluten and what products has it gone into. For example, I just pulled a can of beef consomme out of my pantry and found that it contains”hydrolyzed wheat gluten”.

Prior to the pet food recall, I really haven’t been a serious “label checker”,
but I’m getting very concerned and will start checking all labels more closely.

All of the dialog here, including the strongly worded disagreements, have been very helpful. Thanks to everyone for their comments.

Ken Eicher April 2, 2007 at 11:52 am

I have used Natural Balance for years and my Yorkies do wonderfully on it. I have complete faith in the integrity of the Natural Balance folks and believe their version of the manufacturing process. I think that what you got from Diamond and American Nutrition is just semantics, not a contradiction.

Blissa April 2, 2007 at 12:55 pm

I am torn between feeding Natural Balance and Pro Pac’s Earthborn Holistic. I mentioned that I had written to the Pro Pac folks and I just got a response from them about their manufacturing process:

“Thank you for your interest in PRO PAC Pet Foods. We are not associated with the Menu Foods recall in any way. We manufacture all of our dry pet food in our own company owned manufacturing facilities. The plant manufacturing and packaging our Earthborn Holistic formula is in Illinois. We have been in business since 1926. Our plants are inspected regularly and we keep up with all food manufacturing guidelines. Our pet food is safe for humans but we do not recommend feeding it to humans.”

Cindy Montgomery
VP, Marketing
Midwestern Pet Foods, Inc.
9634 Hedden Road
Evansville, IN 47725
p 812-867-4504, ext. 107
f 812-867-0424

** To the PetSit folks — please give me your thoughts on this.

Cindy Nevarez April 2, 2007 at 1:00 pm

Geff, Sharon, and Chuck…thanks for the support.
Melissa, Davis and Donna…my sentiments exactly. To everyone else…keep coming back until you are sure in your own minds what the right thing is to do for your own animals.
I have to say that if it weren’t for this list (which I am eternally grateful to Therese for doing all the hard work to put it together) I would have never known that the so-called premium foods were made at the same manufacturers as the “other” ones…I thought all premium food companies had their own plants before this, and I would have never made the decision to change what I am doing.
That’s what’s important about this list/blog in my opinion…that we can share info, get to the bottom of this problem, and make more educated decisions, instead of ones based on what marketers tell us. After all if we didn’t all care deeply about our animals, we wouldn’t be here.

Danielle April 2, 2007 at 1:01 pm

My husband got fed up with my paranoia and called Wellness this morning. This is what they told him:

The only Menu factory that was affected by the recall is the one in Ontario. Although it’s a Menu facility, the one Wellness uses to produce their canned food is in New Jersey. Wellness buys all of the ingredients, not Menu, and each batch of food produced there is sampled and tested every day at a separate wellness facility nearby. They also have random quality control tests done by Wellness, and have a human grade auditor test the facility four times a year.

Their dry food is only manufactured in Wellness facilities, one in PA and one in Ontario, and neither is affiliated in any way with Menu. They also batch test the dry food every day as well.

So, it looks like I can keep feeding them the dry food. I looked at Canidae Platinum, but the protein content in that is 18%, where Wellness is 22%. So I really didn’t want to take a chance that it might affect my older dog when his arthritis is under control right now.

I e-mailed Wellness again asking specifically which of their canned food formulas are made at Menu, because they have implied elsewhere that Menu does not produce all of them. When I get a reply, I will post it here.

Cindy Nevarez April 2, 2007 at 1:08 pm

Hi Danielle,
That’s interesting because at first MF was saying that the recall affected their NJ and KS plants. Are they changing their minds now? It’s that kind of inconsistancy that makes people nervous.

Tanks Mom April 2, 2007 at 1:09 pm

I urge you all to quit bitching for 5 minutes and go to itchmo.com…. NOW!

The gluten in question was sold as HUMAN GRADE!
(Now why doesn’t that surprise me????)

Red April 2, 2007 at 1:24 pm

The events of the past couple of weeks are very scary, and not just for pet owners, but for everyone. Regardless of income level, we all want to purchase quality foods for our pets and our family. We want to trust that the food manufactures are delivering products free from tainted ingredients or toxins. We want foods that are convenient, and we want them affordable. We show, by what and where we purchase and by how much we are willing to spend, who and what we value. These events are forcing us to examine our lives, what we value, and what we are willing to do in order to live by our values.

I feel “lucky” that I was NOT using any of the products that have been on the recall list. Sensible Choice chicken and rice does not contain wheat gluten, but since Royal Canin does outsource to Menu, I have begun to do research on other foods. My heart goes out to ANYONE who has lost a friend because of this, and to all who have spent time worried about their pets.

However, since the latest reports state that the tainted wheat gluten MAY have found its way into human food, I am wondering just how much of this we could ingest before it causes problems. How many convenience foods, slices of bread, fork fulls of pasta, would it take to cause a urinary malfunction? Or am I just a little paranoid?

Cindy Nevarez April 2, 2007 at 1:48 pm

No you’re not being paranoid. I just looked at my packages of Boca Burgers…guess what? There are two separate sources of wheat gluten listed on there.

Danielle April 2, 2007 at 1:58 pm

You are absolutely right. The initial report I found on CNN was that the KS and NJ plants were affected. Wellness told my husband it was only Ontario, and that they only used the NJ plant. But then I find in their statement to Mud Bay that they report using the Ontario (!) and NJ plants. So now I’m back to square one with them.

I can understand some slight deviations in specifics among customer service people, because I’m sure they have had to bring in temps or untrained people to answer calls and e-mails, but seriously, shouldn’t these people at least know where your food is made? This is so frustrating.

Tanks Mom April 2, 2007 at 2:53 pm

Their office is based in Canada, the plants affected were in NJ and KS.
As for human foods that contain Gluten just google “Celiac Disease”.
Amazing how much of this gluten garbage is in human food, nearly everything. I am borderline celiac, in other words gluten sensitive, but not allergic, yet! So I need to be very careful and I read everything. I don’t feed either my cat or dog anything with gluten in it!
I can’t handle it, I certainly don’t expect their little systems to be able too!
So everyone do your homework, read, read and read. When you don’t understand something, ask questions until you are satisfied and understand the answer! Good Luck

Gary April 2, 2007 at 3:22 pm

Jenna’s posts are arrogant, nasty, condescending, and entirely too trustful of Menu Foods to do the right thing We can only go by their history and their actions. They have done nothing to warrant our trust, and much to lose it. Also, there is no reason to feed cats a diet entirely of wet food, avoiding dry foods entirely, as she states over and over and over again, in her entirely obnoxious manner.

OTOH, Evy’s posts are friendly, helpful, and compassionate. Of course, one must disagree with her assestment that cats can and should be fed diets consisting entirely of dry food. Cats should get at least a prtion of their diet’s from canned or fresh meat-based foods with high water content.

The fact is that cats should be fed both. Cats DO need some carbs, albeit in very small percentages compared to protien. They also NEED by-products, not just flesh meat. Just look at any animal killed and eaten by almost any species of cat, and you will see the organs are the first eaten, often leaving the flesh meat behind. The by-products contain much of the nutrition of a cat’s prey.

They also need many nutrients that are lacking in flesh meat only diets. So, if you feed your cats home-made diets cionsisting mostly of flesh meats, you’d be wise to add a vitamin-mineral supplement designed for cats.

As for Menu Foods, I will avoid ALL products made by them, regardless of brand, and all brands that use them for any manufacturing. They use shoddy manufacturing practices, are understaffed, and have unclean facilities. They are also directly responsible for animal cruelty. And, while Natural Balance, Wellness, etc aren’t directly responsible for these things, we need to show these so-called holistic caring companies that we do not want them doing business with companies like Menu. (Even the name of their company, “Menu Foods INCOME FUND”, speaks volumes about where their priorities are.)

Money talks!
And bullshit walks (Or ends up in posts by Jenna or other nasty folks.)

Gary April 2, 2007 at 3:34 pm

The USDA, FDA, and FTC need to make sure that labels include country of origin for ingrediants as well as finished products.

People are wise to avoid ALL Chinese made or grown foodstuffs, whether raw ingrediants or finished products, imported from China. They have absolutely no food safety, labeling, or environmental protection laws or enforcement there. They use the most poisonous fertilizers and pesticides, and often outright lie on their labels, often substituting entirely different products for what it says it is on the label.

Japanese people have known this for years due to outbreaks of illness and death from foods and ingrediants imported from China. Only the poorest people will buy Chinese foodstuffs in Japan.

For a Communist country, they have adopted the worst traits of capitalism, surpassing even the robber barons of our own industrial revolution.

I may not be able to avoid buying some Chinese hard goods. But, I will not knowingly feed Chinese foodstuffs to me animals or my loved ones. Period.

Lori April 2, 2007 at 3:57 pm

Some interesting discussion has ensued from my question, yet my question remains mostly unanswered. Regardless of what Jenna (or anyone else) says, I DO NOT wish to feed my cats canned foods by companies that are dealing with Menu Foods. I couldn’t care less if someone thinks this is illogical. That is my decision. Period.

So, wonderful pet owners….I am looking for *readily available* canned cat foods that I can try feeding my boys that don’t use Menu Foods (or gluten, obviously). They aren’t loving the Blue Buffalo canned I’ve tried so far, and I don’t have the money to buy 12 cans of something online only for them to reject them also. Most of the labels I’m seeing discussed are ones I’ve never heard of. Are there any others you all feel safe feeding that I might be able to buy here in Nowheresville?

Momto6cats April 2, 2007 at 4:21 pm

Thank you for all the diligence and work to report these events. As of today, I’ve seen the food at Walmart cleared of the suspect brands. Not so the vet’s office, strangely enough. The Hills Science Diet is still there. The local supermarket has its employees pulling the Alpo canned as I went through.

He was aggravated, as he had been feeding his dog the Alpo. Angry at whoever let this poison get into the food, and saying the same as the rest of us on this forum, i.e., they will get people food from now on.

I’ve talked with folks everywhere this morning, and they all say the same thing, they will cook/fix their own dog and cat food now, rather than take a chance on the manufactured.

The pet food industry is going to take a severe hit, their credibility is gone.

Let me bring this to your attention, while we are in discovery mode about imported food. Take a look at the fruit cups, Dole and Del Monte. Turns out they come from China and Thailand. Millions of kids are eating these fruit cups each day, no one ever turns them over to see they come from China. Thanks to the guy in the local Walmart for clueing me in on these.

The frozen fish fillets you see in the grocers freezer, flounder, cod, etc., are marked “Product of China”, “Wild Caught”. I can just see fleets of Chinese fishing boats scouring the ocean clean of fish…..

None of this is good, not good for us, our pets, or our country. If there is anything good to come from this terrible nightmare, it will be that lots and lots of people have become aware of how we need to regain control of our foodstuff, and unregulated imports should not be allowed to happen.

Again, thank you to all who have contributed to the information here, and I hope your babies will be okay, and thrive, and continue to be loved.

Those who have lost their loving furface, hold tight the memories of them in your heart. They are waiting for you at the Rainbow Bridge.

Linda April 2, 2007 at 4:35 pm

Danielle said,

April 1, 2007 @ 3:29 pm

Does anyone know who produces Wellness’ dry food? I have spent three days researching a new dog food for my three boxers and I have yet to find a dry food that is wheat and corn free, but has glucosamine & chondroitin added. I’m so upset that Menu produces Wellness canned, but if I can’t find an alternative, I’m thinking of keeping them on Wellness dry and supplementing with human food. They already get chicken livers & green tea with their dry a few times a week to boost antioxidants and hopefully keep them cancer-free.

Try Canidae platinum for seniors.

vt farmer April 2, 2007 at 4:36 pm

Commercial pet food and stock feed contain a cocktail of dead domestic animals and deadly environmental toxins.

– All Animals Are To Be Destroyed In A Humane Manner and No Processing Is To Begin Until The Animal Has Expired.

– The Management
[Sign on the wall of a rendering plant]

Warning: these four short articles will make you rethink what you feed to your pets, and even what you and your family eat.

by Ann Martin

The pet food industry, a billion-dollar, unregulated operation, feeds on the garbage that otherwise would wind up in landfills or be transformed into fertiliser. The hidden ingredients in a can of commercial pet food may include roadkill and the rendered remains of cats and dogs. The pet food industry claims that its products constitute a “complete and balanced diet” but, in reality, commercial pet food is unfit for human or animal consumption.

“Vegetable protein”, the mainstay of dry dog foods, includes ground yellow corn, wheat shorts and middlings, soybean meal, rice husks, peanut meal and peanut shells (identified as “cellulose” on pet food labels). These often are little more than the sweepings from milling room floors. Stripped of their oil, germ and bran, these “proteins” are deficient in essential fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins and antioxidants. “Animal protein” in commercial pet foods can include diseased meat, roadkill, contaminated material from slaughterhouses, faecal matter, rendered cats and dogs and poultry feathers. The major source of animal protein comes from dead-stock removal operations that supply so-called “4-D” animals – dead, diseased, dying or disabled – to “receiving plants” for hide, fat and meat removal. The meat (after being doused with charcoal and marked “unfit for human consumption”) may then be sold for pet food.

Rendering plants process decomposing animal carcasses, large roadkill and euthanised dogs and cats into a dry protein product that is sold to the pet food industry. One small plant in Quebec, Ontario, renders 10 tons (22,000 pounds) of dogs and cats per week. The Quebec Ministry of Agriculture states that “the fur is not removed from dogs and cats” and that “dead animals are cooked together with viscera, bones and fat at 115° C (235° F) for 20 minutes”.

The US Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) is aware of the use of rendered dogs and cats in pet foods, but has stated: “CVM has not acted to specifically prohibit the rendering of pets. However, that is not to say that the practise of using this material in pet food is condoned by the CVM.”

In both the US and Canada, the pet food industry is virtually self-regulated. In the US, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) sets guidelines and definitions for animal feed, including pet foods. In Canada, the most prominent control is the “Labeling Act”, simply requiring product labels to state the name and address of the manufacturer, the weight of the product and whether it is dog or cat food. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) and the Pet Food Association of Canada (PFAC) are voluntary organisations that, for the most part, rely on the integrity of the companies they certify to assure that product ingredients do not fall below minimum standards.

The majority – 85 to 90 per cent – of the pet food sold in Canada is manufactured by US-based multinationals. Under the terms of the US-Canada Free Trade Agreement, neither the CVMA nor PFAC exercises any control over the ingredients in cans of US pet food.

Pet food industry advertising promotes the idea that, to keep pets healthy, one must feed them commercially formulated pet foods. But such a diet contributes to cancer, skin problems, allergies, hypertension, kidney and liver failure, heart disease and dental problems. One more item should be added to pet food labels: a skull-and-crossbones insignia!

(Ann Martin is an animal rights activist and leading critic of the commercial pet food industry. She lives in London, Ontario, Canada.)

by Dr Wendell O. Belfield, D.V.M.

The most frequently asked question in my practice is, “Which commercial pet food do you recommend?” My standard answer is “None.” I am certain that pet-owners notice changes in their animals after using different batches of the same brand of pet food. Their pets may have diarrhoea, increased flatulence, a dull hair coat, intermittent vomiting or prolonged scratching. These are common symptoms associated with commercial pet foods.

In 1981, as Martin Zucker and I wrote How to Have a Healthier Dog, we discovered the full extent of negative effects that commercial pet food has on animals. In February 1990, San Francisco Chronicle staff writer John Eckhouse went even further with an exposé entitled “How Dogs and Cats Get Recycled into Pet Food”.

Eckhouse wrote: “Each year, millions of dead American dogs and cats are processed along with billions of pounds of other animal materials by companies known as renderers. The finished product…tallow and meat meal…serve as raw materials for thousands of items that include cosmetics and pet food.”

Pet food company executives made the usual denials. But federal and state agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, and medical groups, such as the American Veterinary Medical Association and the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), confirm that pets, on a routine basis, are rendered after they die in animal shelters or are disposed of by health authorities – and the end product frequently finds its way into pet food.

Government health officials, scientists and pet food executives argue that such open criticism of commercial pet food is unfounded. James Morris, a professor at the School of Veterinary Medicine at Davis, California, has said, “Any products not fit for human consumption are very well sterilised, so nothing can be transmitted to the animal.” Individuals who make such statements know nothing of the meat and rendering business.

For seven years I was a veterinary meat inspector for the US Department of Agriculture and the State of California. I waded through blood, water, pus and faecal material, inhaled the fetid stench from the killing floor and listened to the death cries of slaughtered animals.

Prior to World War II, most slaughterhouses were all-inclusive; that is, livestock was slaughtered and processed in one location. There was a section for smoking meats, a section for processing meats into sausages, and a section for rendering. After World War II, the meat industry became more specialised. A slaughterhouse dressed the carcasses, while a separate facility made the sausages. The rendering of slaughter waste also became a separate speciality – no longer within the jurisdiction of federal meat inspectors and out of the public eye.

To prevent condemned meat from being rerouted and used for human consumption, government regulations require that meat be “denatured” before removal from the slaughterhouse and shipment to rendering facilities. In my time as a veterinary meat inspector, we denatured with carbolic acid (a potentially corrosive disinfectant) and/or creosote (used for wood-preservation or as a disinfectant). Both substances are highly toxic. According to federal meat inspection regulations, fuel oil, kerosene, crude carbolic acid and citronella (an insect repellent made from lemon grass) are all approved denaturing materials.

Condemned livestock carcasses treated with these chemicals can become meat and bone meal for the pet food industry. Because rendering facilities are not government-controlled, any animal carcasses can be rendered – even dogs and cats. As Eileen Layne of the CVMA told the Chronicle, “When you read pet food labels, and it says “meat and bone meal”, that’s what it is: cooked and converted animals, including some dogs and cats.”

Some of these dead pets – those euthanised by veterinarians – already contain pentobarbital before treatment with the denaturing process. According to University of Minnesota researchers, the sodium pentobarbital used to euthanise pets “survives rendering without undergoing degradation”. Fat stabilisers are introduced into the finished rendered product to prevent rancidity. Common chemical stabilisers include BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) – both known to cause liver and kidney dysfunction – and ethoxyquin, a suspected carcinogen. Many semi-moist dog foods contain propylene glycol – first cousin to the anti-freeze agent, ethylene glycol, that destroys red blood-cells. Lead frequently shows up in pet foods, even those made from livestock meat and bone meal. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology study, titled “Lead in Animal Foods”, found that a nine-pound cat fed on commercial pet food ingests more lead than the amount considered potentially toxic for children.

I have been practising small-animal medicine for more than 25 years. Every day I see the casualties of pet industry propaganda. But the professors in the teaching institutions of veterinary medicine generally support an industry that has little regard for the quality of health in our companion animals.

One last word of caution: meat and bone meal from sources not fit for human consumption have found their way into poultry feed. This means that animal products rendered under questionable conditions are fed to birds that may wind up on your table. Remember this when you are eating your next piece of chicken or turkey.

(Dr Belfield is a graduate of Tuskegee Institute of Veterinary Medicine and is now in private practice in San Jose, California. Dr Belfield established the first orthomolecular veterinary hospital in the US. He is co-author of The Very Healthy Cat Book and How to Have a Healthier Dog. This article first appeared in Let’s Live Magazine, May 1992.)

by Gar Smith

Rendering has been called “the silent industry”. Each year in the US, 286 rendering plants quietly dispose of more than 12.5 million tons of dead animals, fat and meat wastes. As the public relations watchdog newsletter PR Watch observes, renderers “are thankful that most people remain blissfully unaware of their existence”.

When City Paper reporter Van Smith visited Baltimore’s Valley Proteins rendering plant last summer, he found that the “hoggers” (the large vats used to grind and filter animal tissues prior to deep-fat-frying) held an eclectic mix of body parts ranging from “dead dogs, cats, raccoons, possums, deer, foxes [and] snakes” to a “baby circus elephant” and the remains of Bozeman, a Police Department quarterhorse that “died in the line of duty”.

In an average month, Baltimore’s pound hands over 1,824 dead animals to Valley Proteins. Last year, the plant transformed 150 millions pounds of decaying flesh and kitchen grease into 80 million pounds of commercial meat and bone meal, tallow and yellow grease. Thirty years ago, most of the renderer’s wastes came from small markets and slaughterhouses. Today, thanks to the proliferation of fast-food restaurants, nearly half the raw material is kitchen grease and frying oil.

Recycling dead pets and wildlife into animal food is “a very small part of the business that we don’t like to advertise,” Valley Proteins’ President, J. J. Smith, told City Paper. The plant processes these animals as a “public service, not for profit,” Smith said, since “there is not a lot of protein and fat [on pets]…, just a lot of hair you have to deal with somehow.”

According to City Paper, Valley Proteins “sells inedible animal parts and rendered material to Alpo, Heinz and Ralston-Purina”. Valley Proteins insists that it does not sell “dead pet by-products” to pet food firms since “they are all very sensitive to the recycled pet potential”. Valley Proteins maintains two production lines – one for clean meat and bones and a second line for dead pets and wildlife. However, Van Smith reported, “the protein material is a mix from both production lines. Thus the meat and bone meal made at the plant includes materials from pets and wildlife, and about five per cent of that product goes to dry-pet-food manufacturers…”

A 1991 USDA report states that “approximately 7.9 billion pounds of meat and bone meal, blood meal and feather meal [were] produced in 1983”. Of that amount, 34 per cent was used in pet food, 34 per cent in poultry feed, 20 per cent in pig food and 10 per cent in beef and dairy cattle feed.

Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) carried in pig- and chicken-laden foods may eventually eclipse the threat of “mad cow disease”. The risk of household pet exposure to TSE from contaminated pet food is more than three times greater than the risk for hamburger-eating humans.

(Gar Smith is Editor of Earth Island Journal.)

[Author’s name withheld]

[In February 1990, the San Francisco Chronicle carried a macabre two-part story detailing how stray dogs, cats and pound animals are routinely rounded up by meat renderers and ground up into – of all things – pet food. According to the researcher who brought the information to the Chronicle, the paper buried the story and deleted many of the charges he had documented. A report he worked on for ABC television’s 20-20 was similarly watered down. In exasperation, he sent the story to Earth Island Journal. NEXUS has been asked to withhold the name of the author/researcher, who has been forced to flee San Francisco with his wife and go into hiding as a result of the threats made against his well-being. Ed.]

The rendering plant floor is piled high with “raw product”: thousands of dead dogs and cats; heads and hooves from cattle, sheep, pigs and horses; whole skunks; rats and raccoons – all waiting to be processed. In the 90-degree heat, the piles of dead animals seem to have a life of their own as millions of maggots swarm over the carcasses.

Two bandana-masked men begin operating Bobcat mini-dozers, loading the “raw” into a 10-foot- deep stainless-steel pit. They are undocumented workers from Mexico, doing a dirty job. A giant auger-grinder at the bottom of the pit begins to turn. Popping bones and squeezing flesh are sounds from a nightmare you will never forget.

Rendering is the process of cooking raw animal material to remove the moisture and fat. The rendering plant works like a giant kitchen. The cooker, or “chef”, blends the raw product in order to maintain a certain ratio between the carcasses of pets, livestock, poultry waste and supermarket rejects.

Once the mass is cut into small pieces, it is transported to another auger for fine shredding. It is then cooked at 280 degrees for one hour. The continuous batch cooking process goes on non-stop, 24 hours a day, seven days a week as meat is melted away from bones in the hot ‘soup’. During this cooking process, the ‘soup’ produces a fat of yellow grease or tallow that rises to the top and is skimmed off. The cooked meat and bone are sent to a hammermill press, which squeezes out the remaining moisture and pulverises the product into a gritty powder. Shaker screens sift out excess hair and large bone chips. Once the batch is finished, all that is left is yellow grease, meat and bone meal.
A Meaty Menu

As the American Journal of Veterinary Research explains, this recycled meat and bone meal is used as “a source of protein and other nutrients in the diets of poultry and swine and in pet foods, with lesser amounts used in the feed of cattle and sheep. Animal fat is also used in animal feeds as an energy source.” Every day, hundreds of rendering plants across the United States truck millions of tons of this “food enhancer” to poultry ranches, cattle feed-lots, dairy and hog farms, fish-feed plants and pet-food manufacturers where it is mixed with other ingredients to feed the billions of animals that meat-eating humans, in turn, will eat.

Rendering plants have different specialities. The labelling designation of a particular “run” of product is defined by the predominance of a specific animal. Some product-label names are: meat meal, meat by-products, poultry meal, poultry by-products, fish meal, fish oil, yellow grease, tallow, beef fat and chicken fat.

Rendering plants perform one of the most valuable functions on Earth: they recycle used animals. Without rendering, our cities would run the risk of becoming filled with diseased and rotting carcasses. Fatal viruses and bacteria would spread uncontrolled through the population.
The Dark Side

Death is the number one commodity in a business where the demand for feed ingredients far exceeds the supply of raw product. But this elaborate system of food production through waste management has evolved into a recycling nightmare. Rendering plants are unavoidably processing toxic waste.

The dead animals (the “raw”) are accompanied by a whole menu of unwanted ingredients. Pesticides enter the rendering process via poisoned livestock, and fish oil laced with bootleg DDT and other organophosphates that have accumulated in the bodies of West Coast mackerel and tuna.

Because animals are frequently shoved into the pit with flea collars still attached, organophosphate-containing insecticides get into the mix as well. The insecticide Dursban arrives in the form of cattle insecticide patches. Pharmaceuticals leak from antibiotics in livestock, and euthanasia drugs given to pets are also included. Heavy metals accumulate from a variety of sources: pet ID tags, surgical pins and needles.

Even plastic winds up going into the pit. Unsold supermarket meats, chicken and fish arrive in styrofoam trays and shrink wrap. No one has time for the tedious chore of unwrapping thousands of rejected meat-packs. More plastic is added to the pits with the arrival of cattle ID tags, plastic insecticide patches and the green plastic bags containing pets from veterinarians.
Rendering Judgements

Skyrocketing labour costs are one of the economic factors forcing the corporate flesh-peddlers to cheat. It is far too costly for plant personnel to cut off flea collars or unwrap spoiled T-bone steaks. Every week, millions of packages of plastic-wrapped meat go through the rendering process and become one of the unwanted ingredients in animal feed.

The most environmentally conscious state in the nation is California, where spot checks and testing of animal-feed ingredients happen at the wobbly rate of once every two-and-a-half months. The supervising state agency is the Department of Agriculture’s Feed and Fertilizer Division of Compliance. Its main objective is to test for truth in labelling: does the percentage of protein, phosphorous and calcium match the rendering plant’s claims; do the percentages meet state requirements? However, testing for pesticides and other toxins in animal feeds is incomplete.

In California, eight field inspectors regulate a rendering industry that feeds the animals that the state’s 30 million people eat. When it comes to rendering plants, however, state and federal agencies have maintained a hands-off policy, allowing the industry to become largely self-regulating. An article in the February 1990 issue of Render, the industry’s national magazine, suggests that the self-regulation of certain contamination problems is not working.

One policing program that is already off to a shaky start is the Salmonella Education/Reduction Program, formed under the auspices of the National Renderers Association. The magazine states that “…unless US and Canadian renderers get their heads out of the ground and demonstrate that they are serious about reducing the incidence of salmonella contamination in their animal protein meals, they are going to be faced with…new and overly stringent government regulations.”

So far, the voluntary self-testing program is not working. According to the magazine, “…only about 20 per cent of the total number of companies producing or blending animal protein meal have signed up for the program…” Far fewer have done the actual testing.

The American Journal of Veterinary Research conducted an investigation into the persistence of sodium phenobarbital in the carcasses of euthanised animals at a typical rendering plant in 1985 and found “…virtually no degradation of the drug occurred during this conventional rendering processŠ” and that “…the potential of other chemical contaminants (e.g., heavy metals, pesticides and environmental toxicants, which may cause massive herd mortalities) to degrade during conventional rendering needs further evaluation.”

Renderers are the silent partners in our food chain. But worried insiders are beginning to talk, and one word that continues to come up in conversation is “pesticides”. The possibility of petrochemically poisoning our food has become a reality. Government agencies and the industry itself are allowing toxins to be inadvertently recycled from the streets and supermarket shelves into the food chain. As we break into a new decade of increasingly complex pollution problems, we must rethink our place in the environment. No longer hunters, we are becoming the victims of our technologically altered food chain.

The possibility of petrochemically poisoning our food has become a reality.

(First published in Earth Island Journal, Fall 1990.)
Extracted from NEXUS Magazine, Volume 4, #1 (Dec ’96 – Jan 1997).
PO Box 30, Mapleton Qld 4560 Australia. editor@nexusmagazine.com
Telephone: +61 (0)7 5442 9280; Fax: +61 (0)7 5442 9381
From our web page at: http://www.nexusmagazine.com

Abby April 2, 2007 at 4:58 pm

How does Menu Foods clean their facilities between runs? Do they use Colgate-Palmolive products, makers of Science Diet and Prescription Diets or do they use P & G products, makers of Iams and Eukanuba? If they use Bleach, oh, oh!
Bleach is a carcinogen!

I’ve been feeding my dogs Natural Balance Potato and Duck for quite awhile and haven’t had any problems. Although I thought they had their own plant, I did not know they used Diamond. Scary.

A long time ago, I bought Science Diet for my dogs, until Colgate bought them out. Then it was Iams, and then Eukanuba. I quit buying it when P & G bought them out.

It’s not that I thought they didn’t want to make a quality dog food, but I do feel the bottom line is more important than the health of my dogs.

Read about “Royal Canin’s $50M lawsuit filed against pet food company” @
http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2007/03/20/pet-food-lawsuit.html and “FDA issued warning for Iams: Unapproved substance found in Iams Co. products” @ http://money.cnn.com:80/2007/03/29/news/iam_pet_food.reut/?postversion=2007032916

Let’s all try to keep this problem going until we have real answers, or the bottom line on this situation, OURS, not theirs!

Seems to me, things have gone terribly wrong since we entered the 21st century.

Cindy Nevarez April 2, 2007 at 5:01 pm

Hi All,
I called Boca Burgers, Trader Joes and Orowheat.
Orowheat says none of their ingredients are from China, and furthermore, all their ingredients are grown here in the USA.
Trader Joes won’t tell me where any of their ingredients are from, but “assured” me that “none” of their food is affected by the recall.
Boca Burgers says they don’t get their wheat gluten from China, but she “doesn’t have the info.” of where they do get it. So how would she know is my question.
Anyway, us vegetarians have a lot to think about.

Sharon L April 2, 2007 at 5:09 pm

To Lori:

“Readily available” means different things to different people, and no one can predict how your cats will respond to different food, but here are the top three brands that I am considering along with my reasoning if that helps.

— Canned

1) Evangers. They have their own manufacturing plant and have a USDA certificed organic brand that my cats are just loving. There is a store near me that sells Evangers, but they also sell online.

2) Caster & Pollux Organix. They do use Menu Foods, but being a certified USDA organic involves additional oversight into the purchase, storage, and manufacturing. The email I received from them had very specific details with their internal quality assurance and the additional quality assurance imposed by the certifying agency. I am not interested in the Castor & Pollux Ultramix line. In my area Petco carries the Organix in store, but it can also be purchased through Petco online. My cats are so-so with this food … they eat it, but there is no joy.

3) Wellness. I am still considering Wellness even though they use Menu Foods for the following reasons. They have been very approachable with questions and concerns. So far I’ve received quick responses to my email questions and 3 followup telephone calls. In the last conversation they said that they will be posting an update to their website with additional details on their quality assurance program. I am not 100% confortable, but the food is readily available, they have 5 flavors which have no grains whatsoever, and my cats like this food best of all.

— Dry

1) Orijen. Canadian company which owns and operates its own manufacturing plant and purchased 90% of its ingredients locally. 70% meat, 30% fruits/veggies, and 0% grain products. I’ve not received yet as there are few retail outlets in the US, but have orders and will be receiving next week.

2) Castor & Pollux Organix. For the reasons above. My cats seem to be so-so with this kibble, but this is the first day with it available.

3) Wellness CORE. Yes, they use Menu Foods, but this is one of the few afordable dry pet foods which have no grain whatsoever so I am still considering this as an option.



marbles April 2, 2007 at 5:31 pm

Any feedback about Lick Your Chops by Healthy Pet Foods Inc.?

Gary April 2, 2007 at 5:34 pm

Lori said – “Are there any others you all feel safe feeding that I might be able to buy here in Nowheresville?”

I would imagine that “Nowheresville”, since it sounds like it is in a rural area, would have a feed and supply store somewhere. Or, maybe a pet shop of some kind. Those types of places carry a lot of the independant and hoistic brands. I can’t imagine the only source for pet food would be from a supermarket, pet superstore, or a big box store.

Look for “pet food”, “pet supplies”, or “animal feed” for your area at smartpages.com . Or, check out the “where to buy” pages on the following brands’ web sites.

People seem to have good things to say about Evangers, Natural Balance, and Canidae/Felidae wet foods. I’m lucky, as my cats like the Blue Buffalo brand canned. (They don’t like the dry, though.)

They also like Chicken Soup for the Pet Lovers Soul canned, which has a nice ingrediant list. (if you can believe any of these comapnies anymore) Their canned is manufactured at American Nutrition, which also makes Natural Balance. But, Chicken Soup is owned by the parent company of Diamond, who had their own recall due to tainted corn back in Dec ’05

I’m still searching for an alternative to Royal Canin dry, which uses wheat gluten. My cats love it, and they’re healthy. (Their appearance, personalities, and overall health imporved when switching them from Nutro Natural Choice, and declined when trying a few different SD formulas.) But, the bag is almost gone, and I don’t want to take a chance with wheat gluten in the next bag I buy.

This whole thing has made pet ownership real work! I just wanna play with the goddamn cats again, and not worry about this crap anymore! 😉

Susan April 2, 2007 at 5:44 pm

Harmony Farms food may be another option for pet owners. I have been feeding my cats this food for a while after I saw the brand on the shelf at the local Stop n’ Shop. Food is labeled as ‘NO corn, wheat, or soy, NO by-products.’ Here is their website for more info…perhaps they can be added to the good list?

Nicki April 2, 2007 at 6:09 pm

Nutro’s website states that their cat canned food isn’t on the recall list..

Homer April 2, 2007 at 6:25 pm

To Blissa,

Thanks for the Pro Pac info. I’m looking for a US company that makes their own food in their own manufacturing plant. If their ingredients and sources check out, this might be a good option.

I’ve been driving around town and have purchased some of the premium natural canned food from area retailers. The difference between the natural stuff and the grocery store brands is stunning.

Some of the natural foods look and smell good enough for me to eat. Hummm . . . maybe I will make myself a sandwich.

Thanks to everyone for helping to identify the trustworthy companies.

Therese April 2, 2007 at 6:29 pm


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