Consumers generally don’t realize that the pet food business is an extension of the human food and agriculture industries. Most pet food companies are owned by agribusiness conglomerates: production of pet food presents an opportunity to turn discarded food components such as spoiled, inedible grains, beverage industry wastes, and slaughterhouse offal/carrion into profit, in order to weave sustainability and necessary “least cost mix” protocols throughout their organizations.
Rendering companies that process ingredients for pet food manufacturers can secure supplies from salvage food brokers. These are companies who broker spoiled, rotting ingredients (“distressed or reconditioned distressed merchandise”). 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, 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.”
RECYCLINGTHEGARBAGE.This waste includes undeveloped eggs, intestines, udders, heads, lungs, brains, hooves, hair & feathers, “viscera”; and rotted, diseased and cancerous tissues, drug injection sites 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 foals from the Pregnant Mare Urine (PMU) industry (sourced for human hormone replacement therapy)... that have been processed into dry meals by commercial rendering plants. These plants— 286 in the US alone, who quietly dispose of more than 18 billion pounds of dead animals, fat and meat wastes annually— also pulverize plastics or heavy metals from pet collars and cattle ID tags, surgical pins, needles, or insecticide patches...
...because it costs money to remove them.
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 asby-products, this waste can include rancid restaurant oils and grease, expired grocery store foods (and their plastic and styrofoam packaging: because it costs money 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.
Commercializing "trencher feeding"
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 (arsenicerythromycin, penicillin, procaine, streptomycin and, trimethoprim are examples) to combat the effects of stressful, overcrowded, and filty conditions of factory farming environments.
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, poultry litter is used in “animal feed”: which simply means that cows are fed floor sweepings containing chicken excrement… from chickens
that ate cows.
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 them can also carry anthrax, botulism, lockjaw, tuberculosis, salmonella, BSE, and other diseases.Rendering is the process of boiling and separating fat that converts dead animals and animal parts that otherwise would be discarded (garbage) 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 labeled: “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-honor as “by-product?”
Unloading "the goods"
The rubbish bin of pet food “by-products”
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 liverdigest,” “chicken
stock/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…?
to Process “Garbage” into Pet Food...
Rendering plant apparatus
It’s true that a lost and starving dog raiding the chicken coop would surely ingest some feathers and a fair amount 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 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. holds a patent (US 7,575,771 B2) for a procedure to process offal(dictionary definition: garbage/refuse/rubbish) into pet food.
You wouldn’t buy a food labeled “Slaughter House Waste Flavor Dog Food”... would you?
Is this the imagery peppering the bag of dog food a consumer totes home from the supermarket?More likely it is pictures of fresh whole chickens, choice cuts of beef and pork, fresh grains, and the like: a cornucopia tumblingearthward in vivid color across every inch of the package.With $21 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”— much of it medically gruesome, naturally conducted in secret— including muscle tissue-sampling on live animals; and laboratory-based (long-term/permanent) caged “feeding trials” to capture a palatability threshold (spraying dried kibble with rendered animal fats) that will encourage the dog to eat food which he would otherwise never touch. But... not long-term nutritional testing, which would be expensive and is not legally reqired; and would doubtless expose pitfalls 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.
Scientists assign a profile of synthetic colors and additives to give the mixture an appealing color or texture (to achieve the marbled-look of real meat, the mixture may be cooked unevenly: with half of the batch colored red and the other white); or to design gelatinous “gravy.” FDA “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) products include transglutaminase, commonly known as “meat glue,” (produced through the fermentation of bacteria): used to bind together scraps of “meat.” Or more simply, just use Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) as a manufactured meat analogue: a substitue for meat. They also configure protocols for emulsifiers (colloidal suspension tools, such as gums: to bind completely imiscible ingredients), grinding agents, anti-fungal agents, thickeners, and stabilizers. Since the dog is clearly not concerned with the color or appearance of his food: this high-tech factory makeover is on behalf of his guardian's conscience, and to appeal to his sensibilities and desires as a consumer.
Because recipes must anticipate aggressive vitamin losses from the extrusion process used in manufacture, and 50-80% antioxidant losses owing to temperature and pressure processes, two-dozen synthesized compounds may be sprayed on to redeem a “fully balanced” nutritional profile based on poorly modeled (and outdated) industry-funded research.Of the four group categories (protein, carbohydrates, fat, fiber), the reality is that most grocery store brands are based on simple (not complex) carbohydrates derived from grain (often rancid: see, discussion below), sucrose and corn syrup (sugar), discarded fats and bulking agents (for cost control), or indigestible fibers (cellulose) such as sawdust, peanut hulls, hair, newspapers and cotton; all colored with (untested) dyes and masked by texturing agents such as propylene glycol (a humectant: also used as a solvent and in antifreeze). Available proteins are commonly derived from bagged
“meat meals” (dried products that are easy to transport, store, and mix), and may be
Finally, cooking high carbohydrate food components and grains at high temperatures (which is necessary to sterilize decaying and moldy ingredients, or to control insect infestation) may create heterocyclic amines and acrylamides, (carcinogens that cause DNA mutation), and mycotoxins (fungal waste products: see below), which are known to have developed resistance to degradation from heat sterilization. Many dry dog foods are formulated to withstand sitting on store shelves for years: a 50-pound dog on a dry diet consumes an average of 18-pounds of preservatives annually.
Acrylamide was recognized in the mid-2000s by the World Health Organization as a major concern: a genotoxic, neurotoxic, carcinogenic chemical, given its ability to induce cancers and heritable damage at gene and chromosomal level, causing mutations in laboratory animals. Research had shown that when certain foods were cooked at temperatures above 248 degrees Fahrenheit, acrylamide can form. When potatoes are overcooked acrylamide levels can rise up to 20 times higher. Typical pet food (and livestock) formulations are highly-processed cereal and potato-based “least cost mix” carbohydrate recipes. To overcome bacterial contamination that is inevitable when by-products are part of these recipes, pet food and animal feed manufacturers consistently high heat process multiple times: the material is then known as “rework.” These are the ideal conditions to create even higher levels of acrylamide.
Despite claims of rendering trade association lobbyists, research has shown that pathogenic bacterial toxins (endotoxins: toxins that are released on bacterial death), fungal toxins, pharmaceutical drugs, chemical residues, GMO’s, toxic AGEs generated in late-stage Maillard Reaction products, and heavy metals are not destroyed during the process of rendering diseased or otherwise unfit animal tissues for pet foods. AGEs (advanced glycation end products) speed up oxidative damage to cells, altering their normal behavior: through the association with receptors that bind with AGEs (RAGE) in the glycation process, glucose can tie to proteins which reduce cell pliability, resulting in activation of pro-inflammatory genes that subject cells to damage and premature aging. The compounds can affect nearly every type of cell and factor in chronic aging diseases, vascular damage, diabetes, and renal failure.
A dog fed dry “convenience” food is continually exposed to these toxins across his lifetime.
The costs: proclivity for developing diabetes, lipidosis and pancreatitis, urinary tract infections, inflammatory bowel disease, renal failure, hyperthyroidism, bacterial infections & peridodontal disease, heart disease, arthritis, atopic dermatitis, mycrotoxicosis, and other chronic and life threatening afflictions. Based on nearly-valueless high carbohydrate grains, the protein-starved dog instinctively overeats to compensate: obesity being the first ailiment that opens the doors to a myriad of heath issues.
Dying Young. The detoxification mechanisms of dogs were developed over thousands of years, designed to cope with the natural poisons an animal would encounter over its lifetime.So-called convenience foods are a recent phenomenon: dry foods materializing only in the last few decades. During that time, the average lifespan of dogs has declined by 18%; and the cellular lifespan (how long cells live and reproduce/replace themselves) of dogs is nearly double the actual average lifespan. If modern dog foods are as nutritious as advertisements claim they are, why do dogs die so young?
The presence of toxins and pollutants increase the body’s need for high quality nutrients to combat or eliminate those same contaminants.It’s important to understand how nutritional value of a food can be affected by the source of the ingredients used.
What Were You Looking For? Probably the most important nutritional component the consumer looks for is
“protein,” but labels can be misleading.A protein biological value (referring to the nitrogen balance index) depends on the food’s unique composition of amino acids: the “building blocks” the body uses to repair tissue.On this scale, the egg is the most useful protein (100 scale); while, for example, wheat gluten (a common source of protein in pet food) is 40 scale.Moreover, the digestibility of a protein (the extent to which the gastrointestinal tract can absorb it) affects its usefulness and should be considered when comparing products.Additionally, prolonged high temperatures used to sterilize putrified ingredients can destructure and denature the bioavailability of proteins and oxidize (destroy) vitamins; and is a contributing factor in the necessity for employing a legion of chemists to add back a brew of compensating—but almost invariably artificial—nutrient supplements.
But the consumer examining the label of a dog food would be underinformed.Almost invariably, the designation is crude protein,referring to ingredients in their original (and pre-rendered) state, and with little or no information about the source of that protein.The use of “by-products” in pet food can help to artificially boost the appearance of protein levels, while providing relatively little usable nourishment (bio-availability) for your dog. Adding to the confusion for the consumer, that pre-rendered state includes moisture which is extracted during processing, and we must remember that on the label, ingredients arelisted in order of weight: a teaspoon of dried “meat by-products” will weigh more than a teaspoon of “fresh” meat or even dry chemicals. With that leverage, much can be accomplished on a label to deceive the customer as to what is in the bag. So too, consumers are generally unaware that once moisture is eliminated, the dried rendered ingredients yield a concentrated protein product which can boost protein levels to a deceptive level. By nature, most dry foods are carbohydrate based, since the process to form the food into “kibble” is based on starches both as a cost saving device for manufacturers (known as “least cost mix”) and for providing low-moisture structural integrity: starch and “by-product” “meals” (non-fresh: rendered to dry-powder meat or poultry products) are used as binders to “cement” the components of the food so that it can be pushed through an extruder and cut into appealing
(to humans) shapes.
Generally speaking, little of value, here...
IS IT POSSIBLE, TO SHOP WITH CONFIDENCE
FOR PET FOOD IN THE GROCERY STORE?
GENERALLY SPEAKING...NO Pet food manufacture is a substantially unregulated industry.Many US pet food companies are subsidiaries of multinational corporations that produce human food and personal care products. Pet food manufacturing is attractive to modern agribusiness conglomerates, since the economies of scale in supply-chain metrics achieved through this diversification support effective profit objectives.
The trade association of pet food manufacturers, The Pet Food Institute, has recognized the use of “by-products" in pet foods as additional income for farmers, processors, and other food industries that prepare food for human consumption; and argues for permission to use broad collective terms (example: “protein products”) that support a “least cost mix” and satisfy the parallel goal of lack of specificity in labeling.The Institute is the lobbying group that drives the interests of the pet food manufacturing industry in Washington DC.Well-funded, it can outspend the FDA at any time, and works to ensure that federal or state legislation that would impose more concentrated supervision on the industry does not pass.
What does a so-called
Official Endorsement Really Mean? The other designation you will often see on a label is that of the AAFCO, The Association of American Feed Control Officials, a voluntary commercial enterprise that attempts to regulate the quality and safety of fodder (livestock feed) and (secondarily) pet food in the US.The AAFCO itself has no regulatory authority, but establishes standards on which states base their feed laws and regulations, in part, to “Provide a level playing field of orderly commerce for the animal feed industry.”
TheAAFCO requires no meaningful testing of foods before manufacturers can use its broad endorsement language on pet food labels. For example, a claim that a food is “complete and balanced” as a sole food for the life of a pet cannot be validated unless scientific (replicable) testing has been completed over the lifetime of many animals, with comparison made to other, species-appropriate foods, and focused on nutritionally related diseases. This type of (costly) testing has never been performed: in essence, it is the dog guardian himself who conducts "lifetime" testing of these grim food formulas. In fact, in lieu of testing, a standard chemical analysis may be used to qualify that a food meets the AAFCO standards for nutritional profiles. This change was made in the 1980s when pet food manufacturers complained that the existing protocols set by the National Research Council were onerous and expensive.
Despite the impact that carbohydrate-loaded foods hold on pet health, The Official Publication of the AAFCO specifically discourages the use of the word “carbohydrate” anywhere on a pet food label, recognizing the importance of starches in modern,profit-driven manufacturing. Examining the pet food manufacture today, with thousands of pets sickened, permanently injured, or killed by tainted food (with recalls continuing to this day), and with no responsibility having been taken by the industry, it’s fair to question the meaningfulness of AAFCO endorsement. As a fair example of their standards, the ingredients list of one of the most popular convenience foods available, Beneful, carries the claim:"Animal feeding tests using Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) procedures substantiate that Beneful Original dog food provides complete and balanced nutrition for all life stages."
Given what is known about the nutritional uselessness, unsanitary production, and frequently unsafe standards for “by-products,” biologically inappropriate starchy grains, and dried additives: we should rightfully recoil at the ingredients list and claims that Benefulwill “keep your dog happy and healthy with a perfect balance of healthful ingredients, quality nutrition and superb taste;”posted on Purina’s own site:
Image from: www.beneful.com/dog-food (click image to open)
Nine of the first 10 ingredients are high carbohydrate grains, starches and flours, low-bioavailable proteins, "by-products," industrial chemicals, and sugars. Farther down the label is:
corn gluten meal = livestock feed and herbicide, used to boost protein levels: by-product after the manufacture of corn syrup or starch/the dried residue after the removal of the bran, germ, and starch;
propylene glycol = artificial preservative, proven toxic to red blood cells;
tricalcium phosphate = “bone ash" (crude ash, the residue of complete incineration of food components);
phosphoric acid = low cost synthetic bulk alternative to natural flavorings (lemon or lime), used to impart a tangy taste; commercially, phosphoric acid is used to remove rust from metal.
potassium chloride = metal halide salt, (used in fertilizer, and as the last in a three-drug combination of lethal injection);
dicalcium phosphate = nutritional supplement added to dog foods and poultry feed;
choline chloride = added to poultry feed as a growth stimulator;
DL-Methionine = an amino acid, used to reduce PH of the dog's urine;
ferrous sulfate = green colorant and iron supplement;
calcium pantothenate = B5 vitamin supplement;
pyridoxine hydrochloride = B6 vitamin supplement;
sodium selenite = copper supplement;
calcium iodate = a dough conditioner.
This poor soul doesn't look too happy with his dinner. It leaves him chronically protein-starved. We call this the "Twinkie diet," because it is so bereft of wholesome nutrition: feeding your beloved dog this food is comparable to feeding a child Twinkies at 2 out of 3 meals a day.
BUT WHY DO ANTI-PATHOGENIC, ANTI-BACTERIAL, ANTI-VIRAL AND MOLD INHIBITING CHEMICALS HAVE TO BE ADDED TO CONVENIENCE DOG FOOD?
Pesticides and mold inhibitors are needed in this pet food because the high carbohydrate/low protein (indigestible and rejected) grains used in dry dog foods come with allergens and often deadly toxins, including mycotoxins (toxins produced as waste products by fungus; see below). Pet food grade grains are the "by-products" from flour mills.Most dry dog food contains mill run flour, coming from the bottom of the storage elevator, comprised of broken kernels and fines (grains that break and crush). The fines separate and settle during processing, and accumulate in high-concentration pockets within the screened storage apparatus.Designated as the lowest-profit grain, it accordingly receives the lowest priority for handling.This extended "set time" allows molds to grow (to feed) in these pockets of fines— which stay warmer and wetter in storage— because these carbohydrates are a preferred nutrient source of many fungi (parasitic plants). Consequently, the fines become an attractive food source and subsequent breeding environment for insects, particularly for those species which lack mouth parts for boring into whole grain kernels. Being such, storage mites consume the molds/fungi that feed on low quality grain carbohydrates, and with a consistent food source, ultimately run their entire life cyle (and die) in the silo.
Studies estimate that 15% of the canine population suffers from atopic dermatitis (allergies that manifest as skin disturbances), probably resulting from consumption of carcasses and waste of storage mites in high-grain content dog foods. Storage mites can multiply quickly: among the species (red flour beetles, granary weevils, mice weevils, meal worms, flat grain beetles, Indian meal moths, and saw-tooth grain beetles as examples) a single female mite can lay between 400 and 1000 eggs. Of those, the Acarus siro, Lepidoglyphus destructor, Blomia tropicalis, and Tyrophagus putrescentiae (mold mite) species are generally considered to present the biggest problem for atopic dogs.
What are Mycotoxins? Further, when molds/fungi are under stress (being eaten by
predators), they secrete deadly mycotoxins. To survive, fungi adapt to produce a wide range of toxins that protect them from bacteria, viruses, or predators (such as storage mites). Aflatoxins, ochratoxins, trichothecenes, zearalenone, fumonisins and fusaric acid have been found in the ingredients and final products of pet foods.
Mycotoxins are found in almost all grains (corn, wheat, rice, barley, oats, soybeans, peanuts), and consumption of mycotoxins is essentially unavoidable if your dog eats grain-based food. More than acute (immediate) toxicity, mycotoxins suppress the entire canine immune system, and prolonged low-level exposure to these poisons contributes to increased disease incidence, damage to vital body organs, interference with protein synthesis and reproductive capabilities, causes genotoxic mutations in DNA, and ultimately, even cancer from mycrotoxicosis. Exposure to a particular mycotoxin can be amplified by the synergistic activation that occurs when multiple mycotoxins are present, and aside from hepatoxicity (chemical driven liver damage) are carcinogenic (cancer causing).
Chronic exposure to glyphosphate...
GMOs and Hepatoxicity:
chemical-driven liver damage A recently published study identified development of biomarkers for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in rats who were fed ultra-low (that is: federally allowable) doses of the seemingly omnipresent agricultural herbicide glyphosate, and “demonstrate… a causative link between an environmentally relevant level of [Roundup®] consumption over the long-term and a serious disease.”
In 2016, The World Heath Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), catalogued glyphosate as a 2A “probable” human carcinogen. Food Safety Advocates describe manufacturer Monsanto's vigorous rejection of that classification, accompanied by a campaign to discredit IARC scientists. Additional research focusing on common commercial surfactants such as polyethoxylated tallowamine (POEA: which helps the herbicide penetrate the waxy surface of plants), and other co-formulants and additives in various formulations of Roundup® has shown that many of the declared inert ingredients may be more toxic than glyphosate alone. These factors have led to a growing number of countries banning their import or use, on the basis of their potential to destroy biodiversity and citing mass honeybee die-offs.
In the US, the EPA continues to deflect criticism linking the herbicide to endocrine disruption, reproductive effects, and kidney and liver damage, which Food Safety Advocates attribute to especially intensive legislative pressure brought by manufacturer Monsanto. Recent court filings in a civil complaint assert that Monsanto held influence within the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP), and had close ties specifically to its deputy division director coordinating the review of Roundup®, and request that the federal court to lift a seal on documents detailing the company’s interaction with the official regarding the EPA’s safety assessment of glyphosate.
Glyphosphate is absorbed by genetically modified (GMO) crops that have been engineered to be resistant to Roundup® as a weed killer. Most US-produced corn, soy, sugar beet, cotton and canola are GMOs. The chronic exposure to these chemicals is inevitable for dogs that are forced to consume a steady diet of grain-based foods.
While recent research links fatty liver disease to glyphosate levels of 0.1 parts per billion, a 2015 study utilizing high performance liquid chromatography (HPLP: the EPA’s accepted method of analysis) has identified levels of glyphosate as high as 300ppb in just a limited range of pet foods. The authors discuss that NaNO2 (sodium nitrite), a common preservative in pet food manufacture, reacts with glyphosphate to produce N-Nitrosoglyphosate, a carcinogen, and phosphonic acids AMPA and MAMPA.
Food Safety Advocates suggest that the biologically inappropriate inclusion of GMO grains and vegetables as well as glyphosate-sprayed dry wheat and imported GMO rice used by pet food manufacturers in pursuit of “least cost mix” protocols may support explanation for the rising toll of abnormal liver enzymes, intestinal dysbiosis, allergies, autoimmune diseases, metabolic syndrome and the obesity epidemic that is, by obvious measure, so common in dogs today.
Shuma: nigh-invincible power (to charm)
Endnotes: Offal refers to the parts of a butchered animal that are “removed in dressing”/visera; considered inedible by human beings. Among the dictionary definitions of offal are: "refuse," "rubbish," and "garbage." Carrion refers to dead and putrefying flesh. Rendering is a process that converts waste animal tissue or by-products into stable, value-added materials.It refers to processing of animal by-products into more useful substances, often the rendering of whole animal fatty tissue into purified fats (lard or tallow) or “tankage” that is used as a protein source in pet food.Most tissue comes from slaughterhouses, but also includes expired meat from grocery stores (including the packaging, which would be too expensive to remove); road kill, the carcasses of euthanized and dead animals from animal shelters, zoos and veterinarians (the tissue further tainted with phentobarbital, the lethal drug used to kill the animal); distiller fermentation waste, rancid restaurant grease and butcher shop trimmings. This material can include the fatty tissue, bones, and offal, or entire carcasses of animals condemned at slaughterhouses, and those that have died on farms, or collapsed in transit, etc., and their unborn fetuses.
The rendering process involves rupturing fat cells, either by heat or enzymatic- and solvent-extraction, and concurrently dries the material and separates the fat from the protein and bone, yields fat commodities, and animal protein meals (meat and bone meal, poultry byproduct meal, etc.), which as concentrated protein products can be used to boost stated protein levels of inferior pet foods. Rendering plants also process materials such as slaughterhouse blood (blood meal), feathers, (feather meal) and hair as protein vendibles.
Tonya: dapper dresser
Feather meal is a byproduct of processing poultry; containing up to 12% nitrogen, it is used in formulated animal feed (for ruminants in “factory farm” environments: see note #7, below) and as a source of slow-release/high-nitrogen fertilizer for organic farming. The bio-availability of this nitrogen, however, may be low.
In a pet food industry publication, (“Adding Value to Feathers”), a feather meal manufacturer (GoldMehl) states: “Processed by-products have become an important protein source for the industry …[as] an economical feed ingredient.” The statement continues: “Unprocessed feathers are high in crude protein (90 percent),” but notes that because they are “highly indigestible… feathers have to be processed.”
In order to have bio-availability (making the protein available), feathers need to be broken down to an amino acid level: the feathers are hydrolyzed (separating chemical bonds by adding water) during rendering, and then dried for grinding into a powder. Other common methods are prolonged boiling in a strong acid (acid-HVP) or a pancreatic protease enzyme. Then, a palantant is added so that the feathers have “taste.” Despite that antimicrobials used in poultry production have the potential to bioaccumulate in poultry feathers as a “pathway,” feather meal itself is not directly tested as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service and National Residue Program.
After a mere seven-day feeding trial, GoldMehl determined that once processed, “digestibility for feather meal” was “comparable to regular poultry meal.” Royal Canin states that they are pursuing use of feather meal for an “Anallergenic formula” as well as “worm meal” for pet foods in China. “For us, terms like ‘organic’ are irrelevant,” a company spokesman declares, since “… we take nutritional science to a whole new level;” adding that the matrix for sourcing protein ingredients is contracting: “We’re using something that would otherwise end up in a landfill... [and] it’s incredibly nutritious.”
Simon: a bit bitwixt and between
Nearly 5 billion pounds of rendered animal waste is produced annually in the US into animal protein meals. The largest markets for these commodities are poulty (livestock) and pet foods/treats, the latter identified as a significant “growth market” by the National Renderers Association. The cooked ingredients can be the most scandalous: diseased animals, diseased or cancerous animal tissues, and downer animals.
Meat and bone meal is one of the ingredients FDA testing determined to be associated with euthanized animals (the detection of pentobarbitol in pet foods suggesting that euthanized shelter animals were being rendered into pet food); and can also include diseased tissues and drug injection sites cut away from healthy slaughtered animals. Presently, only 3 products: Friskies® Cat Food (Purina), Ol Roy™ Dog Food (Walmart), and Kibbles & Bits® (Del Monte) disclose “meat (or beef) and bone meal” as an ingredient on their package labels, and this clearly could not account for industry sales. Thus, it is reasonable to question whether some pet food companies are using meat and bone meal but labeling it as another ingredient.
Henry: surfside sportsman
 “Downed” cattle are defined as those too ill or weak to stand on the way to the slaughterhouse.
 The HSUS investigation into the Hallmark Meat Packing Company plant is our most ready example: (read more).
To hide the “often sadistic treatment of factory-farmed cows, pigs and chickens” agricultural lobbyists have pressured state legislatures to enact so-called ag-gag laws, decried by animal welfare advocates as a type of “government sanctioned censorship,” as it seeks to suppress speech by making it a crime to secretly videotape industrial feedlots and slaughterhouses for the purpose of exposing animal mistreatment and abuse. Typically, these laws criminalize investigative journalism and threaten a violator with imprisonment and fines of multiple the “economic loss” a farm suffers as a result of its abusive practices being made public. Several have become law, but in striking down Idaho’s version, a Federal District Judge wrote that “food production is not a private matter,”[Case No. 1:14-cv-00104-BLW, USDC for the District of ID] and the activists’ undercover methods “actually advance core First Amendment [free speech] values by exposing misconduct to the public eye and facilitating dialogue on issues of considerable public interest.”
 Arsenic is used to control parasites and stimulate growth in poultry factory farming environments, also known as confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Some 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).
 Factory farming refers to industrial farming processes of raising livestock in confinement at high stocking density, where a farm operates as a factory. Confinement at high stocking density is one part of a systematic effort to produce the highest output at the lowest cost by relying on economies of scale, modern machinery, biotechnologies, and global supply trade metrics. By nature, the crowded living conditions result in the spread of disease and pestilence, and necessitate mitigation through continuous administration of antibiotics and pesticides—which then become part of the food chain. Selective breeding and administration of growth hormones are additionally used to stimulate swift livestock growth. Food is supplied to livestock in place, and physical restraints are used to control movement or actions regarded as “undesirable”: typically within stalls too small for them to move or lie down for their entire lives.
Because of the lack of space and psychological stress of the environment, animals living in these conditions are often mutilated to prevent them from harming each other or becoming canibalistic, (among other events: chickens are de-beaked; pigs are castrated and cows tails are docked—without anesthesia—the latter of which furthers their daily misery as it prevents them from swatting away flies). So common that it draws no notice, the animals often perform stereotypies, and display behavioral manifestations of insanity.
Stewie: the little constabulary
On the factory farm, mother cows are separated from calves shortly after they are born, so that the calves don’t drink their mothers’ milk. In October of 2013, Newberry, MA police issued a statement to residents to quiet complaints about “strange noises” coming from a local dairy farm: the mother cows were mournfully crying out for their separated calves. The police were informed by the farm operators that the cows were “not in distress” and that the events were a “normal function of a working dairy farm.”
Defenders of factory farming cynically use the animals themselves as "evidence" to deflect criticizm of "animal husbandry" techniques: that most appear to gain weight “proves” that they are not as stressed as critics claim, and that the meat should therefore be “healthy.” However, being under stress is different from starving. Even under these conditions or when openly abused by workers: the vast majority will still eat and will still grow and gain weight, since the feed is not one of their natural diet of grass, but grain with protein (melamine is known as a familiar source), vitamins and growth hormones designed to cause weight gain.
Stress to the animals is not an issue on the factory farm: profits are. Carefully researched paradigms dictate the optimal point where the farm is crowded enough to be efficient, but not so much so that too many animals are dying from fighting, stress and disease. That a factory farm is able to get livestock to eat and gain weight doesn’t impart that it is a humane place of business. The large concentration of animals, animal waste, and the potential for dead animals in a small space poses ethical issues, and these techniques to sustain intense profit objectives are, while often culturally accepted as “necessary,” also recognized as inherently cruel. Pollution and destruction of biodiversity are also cited as environmental concerns of these modern agribusiness practices.
Laika: poise and placidity
Since the discovery of mad cow disease in the US, federal officials have begun to restrict the parts of cattle that can be fed back to cattle.However, most animals are still allowed to eat meat from their own species (rendered carcasses fed back to them); cattle can still be fed cow blood and certain “non-organ” parts.Under current law, pigs, chickens, and turkeys that have been fed rendered cattle can be rendered and fed back to cattle—a loophole that belies assurances that our food chain is free from “mad cow” agents.Legally, animal feed may contain rendered road kill, dead horses, and euthanized cats and dogs; rendered feathers, hair, skin, hooves, blood, and intestines may be used under categories of “animal protein products.”
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad-cow disease (MCD).  Examples of common starches: rendered meat-and-bone-meal, poultry by-product meal, grains (corn, wheat, rice and their components, commonly broken down & listed separately to be hidden on a label), white or yellow potatoes, and flours.
Wally: waiting for his guardian to catch up
 Nestlé bought Purina (Fancy Feast, Alpo, Friskies, Mighty Dog, Dog Chow, Cat Chow, Puppy Chow, Kitten Chow, Beneful, One, ProPlan, DeliCat, HiPro, Kit’n’Kaboodle, Tender Vittles, Purina Veterinary Diets, Beyond, Chef Michael’s Moisty & Meaty, Just right, Busy, T-Bonz, Beggin’, Waggin’ Train, Kit & Kaboodle, Deli-Cat: Annual Revenue 2013: $11.72B);Del Monte (now known as Big Heart Brands) acquired Heinz (MeowMix, Gravy Train, Kibbles ’n Bits, Wagwells, 9Lives, Cycle, Skippy, Nature’s Recipe; pet treats Milk Bone, Pup-Peroni, Snausages, Pounce, Canine Carry Outs, Milo’s Kitchen, Meaty Bone, Alley Cat, and Natural Balance;Annual Revenue 2013: $1.99B); MasterFoods owns Mars, Inc., which bought Royal Canin (Pedigree, Waltham’s, Cesar, Sheba, Temptations, Goodlife Recipe, Sensible Choice, Excel, Whiskas, Kitekat, Banfield, Nutro, Dreamies, Chappi, Catsan, Frolic, Perfect Fit, Greenies, Temptations; Annual Revenue 2013: $17.2B); Procter and Gamble (P&G) purchased The Iams Company (Iams, Eukanuba) and soon after introduced (and heavily marketed) Iams into grocery stores, wherin as a so-called "premium brand" it has flourished; and also Natura Pet Foods (Innova, EVO, California Natural, Healthwise, Mother Nature, Karma); Colgate-Palmolive bought Hill’s Science Diet(Hill’s Science Diet, Prescription Diets,
Other significant producers include private label factories (making food for “house” brands such as Wal-Mart) and co-packers (large-scale manufacturers who procure ingredients and produce food pursuant to contract for pet food companies); the most notable are Doane Pet Care, Diamond, and Menu Foods; (all involved in pet food recalls that sickened, injured or killed thousands of domestic pets). Consumers have no information about these co-packers since they are not generally divulged on product labels. Futher discussion on the important issue of co-packing in dog food manufacture is on page 2 of our essay on Dog Food Labeling.
 Elizabeth M. Hodgkins, DVM, Esq.: Your Cat, (2009); Marion Nestle & Malden C. Nesheim, Feed Your Pet Right, (2010).
Destiny: a contemplative moment
 A basic goal of AAFCO is to provide a mechanism for developing and implementing uniform and equitable laws, regulations, standards and enforcement policies for regulating the manufacture, distribution and sale of animal feeds; resulting in safe, effective, aggressively cost effective, and useful feeds. The Association thereby promotes new ideas and innovative procedures and urges their adoption by member agencies, for uniformity.
 AAFCO: (2003, p.178), "Carbohydrate guarantees are no longer considered as necessary or meaningful for purchaser information, therefore, their use is discouraged," (see: Brown & Taylor, See Spot Live Longer, 2005).
 Consumers may be confused by terms which make grains sound better than they may in fact be. Brewer's rice (used as a common protein source) sounds appealing to consumers, but is a by-product: simply broken or chipped rice; the small fragments of rice kernels that separate out from the larger kernels of milled rice. Brewers rice and second heads are one of the many byproducts created by milling rice: second heads are milled rice kernels that are ½ - ¾ of the original kernel; while Brewers rice is a milled rice kernel that is ¼ - ½ the size of a full kernel. Second heads, if of acceptable quality, are used to make rice flour; but if the quality of the second heads are poor, they will be sold for pet food or dairy feed (Brewer's rice) as part of "least cost mix" protocols. The term Brewer's rice was created by the AAFCO (see discussion, above), and it is sold exclusively for pet food and dairy feed.
 Fungi (parasitic plants) lack chlorophyll; unlike green plants, which use CO2 and light as sources of carbon and energy, fungi assimilate organic matter as substitutes.
Lulu: kicks up some mirth
 Corn-based foods invariably contain fumonisins (leading to disturbed metabolism and cardiovascular dysfunction) and likely aflatoxins; peanuts are often used as protein in “diet” formulations—and often contaminated with aflatoxins. Wheat foods have vomitoxins (protein inhibitors which affect the central nervous system), also common in barley, oats, rye, maize, and sometimes, rice. Repeated heat processing can form heterogenic amines (carcinogens).
A 2003 survey (Lawrence Liverpool National Laboratory) found that virtually all commercial dry dog foods tested contained these substances and hypothesized that there was a connection to cancer in animals consuming these foods (Kinze: Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis; 2003).
A 2007 report published in the International Journal of Food Microbiologysuggests that chronic exposure to even low levels of these mycotoxins—such as would occur with daily feeding of grain-based dry foods—can cause serious health consequences to the dog. Authors Boermans and Leung discuss that existing studies of mycotoxin contamination in pet food neglect the day-to-day consumption of small amounts of mycotoxins; not “food poisoning” as we would expect, but resulting in “chronic diseases such as liver and kidney fibrosis, infections resulting from immonosuppression and cancer."
 Acrylamides: (chemistry: noun) a colorless, odorless, toxic crystalline compound, C3H5NO, soluble in water, alcohol, and acetone: used in the synthesis of polyacrylamide and other organic materials, as textile fibers, in the processing of ore, and in the treatment of sewage.
 O’Brien, Morrissey, & Ames: Nutritional and toxicological aspects of the Maillard browning reaction in foods, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, Vol. 28, Issue 3, 1989; also: Van Nguyen: Toxicity of the AGEs generated from the Maillard reaction: on the relationship of food-AGEs and biological-AGEs, Molecular Nutrition & Food Research Vol. 50, Issue 12, 2006.
Lulu: "Who's just arrived?"
 Endotoxins are a lipopolysaccharide (LPS) complex found in the outer membrane of the cell wall of Gram-negative bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Salmonella.
Acute or chronic long-term exposure to endotoxins (particularly when the same brand or type of food is used continuously) can precipitate a cascade of adverse health consequences and may contribute to development of chronic degenerative diseases. Endotoxins elicit strong immune response in dogs, triggering the release of histamine and inflammatory cytokines, change white blood cell numbers, affect blood coagulation, and lead to hypertension, arthritis, respiratory disease and organ failure. Endotoxins are expected to damage cell DNA with carcinogenic consequences. Carcinogenic heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are formed when meat by-products from “4-D” animals is rendered to destroy harmful bacteria so that it can be used in dog food.
Honey: indefatiqable charm
 AAFCO defines as acceptable to be fed to cattle, “Dried Poulty 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 feces, 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.”
The essay does conclude that: “….feeding poultry litter to beef cattle, while a sound nutritional management option, carries with it certain stigmas that may cause beef consumers to become alarmed.” Food Safety Advocates remind that both the excrement and uneaten pellets of chicken feed found in poultry litter can contain beef protein—including ground-up meat and bone meal—which means that cows could be, indirectly, eating each other. The USDA has cautioned that meat and bone meal containing infected bovine protein is the principal vector for spreading bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE: “mad cow disease”).
The FDA temporarily banned feeding of poultry litter to beef cattle in 2003, but ruminant (beef cattle) protein was permitted to be fed to poultry. To avoid the infectious agents of BSE being passed to beef cattle via spilled feed or manure, FDA mandated the removal of all “specified risk materials” from poultry diets. In late 2005 poultry litter was re-approved as a feedstuff for beef cattle. Among the treatments used to kill pathogenic organisms are heat-processed pelleting, or deep stacking: piling litter in a 6- to 8-foot stack, where it undergoes a fermentation process, spontaneously heating to 130-160 degrees F. In 2009, consumer and animal welfare groups petitioned the FDA to end the practice, noting bans already in place in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the European Union member states. Citing a backlog of other petitions before the agency, FDA has still not responded to the document.
Suri: assessing the competition...
 Ethoxyquin is a quinoline-based antioxidant used as a food preservative in certain countries and a pesticide or post-harvest fungicide for pears. The FDA has approved the use of ethyoxyquin in animal feed and pet foods as a preservative in pet foods to prevent the rancidification of fats. The US Coast Guard requires it to be used as a preservative during transport of fish meal, because it is so highly susceptible to oxidation that the volatile fatty acids may heat and spontaneously combust, perhaps setting ships on fire. Application level depends on the fat content: 400 parts per million (ppm) if the fish meal contains less than 12% fat, and 1,000 ppm if it contains more. Naturally preserved meat meals cost more and are not as shelf-stable as artificially preserved meat meals, so absent specific declaration, a dog food containing fish meal would likely contain traces of ethoxyquin, even if that antioxidant does not appear on the ingredients list: as an undisclosed “secondary ingredient.”
N.B.: This essay is written for informational purposes only. Our goal is to build awareness of concepts and define common terminology to stimulate creative thinking, so that you may effectively conduct your own research. We draw your attention to concepts and issues that are or may be important to the subject at hand, but do not consider that our interpretation is necessarily complete. This essay is by nature, narrowly focused: there are numerous scholarly books on this topic which we would encourage you to seek out. We would welcome your comments or suggestions. We are NOT medically trained, nor legal experts. The most important thing a pet guardian may do in his dog's lifetime, is work to build an understanding of pet food manufacture and the basics of pet food labeling.We encourage you to discuss this topic in detail with your veterinarian, and to be aware that certain medical conditions would not include high-protein diets as part of generally accepted treatment/management protocols. Be aware that an "all meat" diet (used by some guardians to avoid commercially made foods) is not nutritionally/medically complete for your dog. Links are in blue & will illuminate when you pass your mouse over them: click to be directed to a site.
Pops rockets across the littoral border adjacent to Fairfield's boat basin
“I talk to him when I'm lonesome like; and I'm sure he understands. When he looks at me so attentively, and gently licks my hands; then he rubs his nose on my tailored clothes, but I never say naught thereat. For the good Lord knows I can buy more clothes, but never a friend like that.” —W. Dayton Wedgefarth
You can brighten the long, lonely day of a needy dog:consider volunteering at a shelter. Your used but servicable linens, towels, bathmats, or cushions can provide comfort while he waits. Need help affording veterinary care? click HERE • Find low-cost spay neuter services: click HERE
Food & Safety Recalls/FDA Advisories for Dog Foods: click HERE
To think about: American taxpayers spend more than $1 billion annually to fund municipal animal shelters.
In those facilities, 14,000 animals are killed each day, often brutally: even in archaic gas chambers...
many within merely hours of their arrival: why are they called shelters?