The Pet Food Industry and
its Questionable Practices
The pet food industry
must be regulated to ensure that foods destined for our pets are
safe, contain only ingredients fit for human consumption, and involve
no animal experimentation.
Extracted from Nexus Magazine, Volume 10, Number
5 (August-September 2003)
PO Box 30, Mapleton Qld 4560 Australia. firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone: +61 (0)7 5442 9280; Fax: +61 (0)7 5442 9381
From our web page at: www.nexusmagazine.com
by Ann N. Martin © 2003
Web page: http://www.newsagepress.com/foodpetsdiefor.html#author
January 1990 was
when my research and investigation began into the commercial pet food
industry. Prior to 1990 I had always fed my pets - dogs and cats - a
commercial pet food. This changed when after feeding my two dogs, a
Saint Bernard and a Newfoundland, a well-known brand of dog food - a
brand that I had fed them for a few years - both dogs became ill with
vomiting and excessive thirst. Our veterinarian, an English
gentleman, advised me to put them on a home-made diet for a few days.
Both dogs did very well on this diet of cooked hamburger, brown rice
and grated vegetables. Two days later I switched them back to the
commercial diet and encountered the same problems. Both the
veterinarian and I were convinced there was something in the food
that was causing the problem.
A private lab showed that the food contained
excess levels of zinc at 1120 parts per million (ppm) - a level that
would have caused the symptoms the dogs displayed - and over 20 other
heavy metals. The pet food company chose to take the position that it
was not responsible.
It was then that I contacted the Canadian Ministry
of Agriculture and found that this is a virtually unregulated
industry. Governments in the USA and Canada regulate the labelling of
the food, the name and address of the company, the weight of the
product, and whether it is made for a dog or cat - nothing more. So
what else was going into these foods that we, the pet owners, were
not aware of?
RENDERING COMPANION ANIMALS
A friend, a veterinarian in California, had
advised me that euthanised dogs and cats from veterinary clinics and
shelters were routinely rendered and used as sources of protein in
pet food. As a Canadian, I never thought it would happen in Ontario,
the province where I live. Wrong! I was to discover that almost every
veterinarian clinic in the city was using a dead-stock removal
company that picked up the pets and sold them to a broker who then
sold them to rendering plants in the province of Quebec. The
rendering plant that was paying the highest amount at that time,
Sanimal Group, was the party that usually purchased the dead animals.
The Minister of Agriculture in Quebec advised that
dogs and cats were cooked along with other material. This material,
as I later learned, contained the remains of so-called "4-D" (dead,
diseased, dying and disabled) animals, slaughterhouse waste,
roadkill, garbage from restaurants and grocery stores, and even zoo
animals. The use of such ingredients is perfectly legal. Because well
over 90% of the pet food sold in Canada is imported from the USA, I
began my investigation into the industry in that country.
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed
what the Canadian Ministry had advised, that this industry is
self-regulated. The Association of American Feed Control Officials
(AAFCO), a non-governmental body, oversees labelling text and
provides a list of ingredients which can be used in livestock and pet
food. Some of the ingredients listed include: hydrolysed hair,
dehydrated garbage and even manure, swine waste, ruminant waste,
poultry waste, and what is described as "undried processed animal
waste products". Undried waste products are excreta from any animal
The Food and Drug Administration Center for
Veterinary Medicine (FDA/CVM) oversees vitamins and mineral
supplements as well as drugs such as antibiotics used in the food
but, again, it has no input as to the sources of ingredients. As with
AAFCO, the only input as far as ingredients are concerned relates to
the labelling. If the label states that the product contains 24%
protein, it must contain 24% protein - but the source of the protein
matters not. This also applies to any grains or fats in the foods.
The Pet Food Institute (PFI) is an association
that represents the various interests of the pet food industry. Over
the years the PFI has insisted that the companies they represent use
only quality ingredients. Numerous times I have questioned this
organisation as to what testing the pet food companies undertake to
ascertain the sources of protein, the meat meal, which they purchase
from rendering plants. They have chosen not to respond. Their silence
says it all.
In the fall of 1997 my first book, Food Pets Die For, was published
and people became aware of the dubious ingredients in some commercial
pet foods. Pet owners were shocked that their euthanised pets could
very well be ending up in pet foods. Naturally, the pet food industry
denied that this was happening.
Not only was the rendering plant in Quebec
accepting euthanised companion animals for rendering, but this
practice was being carried on by a number of rendering plants in the
In a letter dated July 12, 1994, Christine
Richmond, spokesperson for the FDA Division of Animal Feed, wrote:
"In recognizing the need for disposal of a large number of unwanted
pets in this country, CVM has not acted to specifically prohibit the
rendering of pets. However, that is not to say that the practice of
using this material in pet food is condoned by CVM." It is not
condoned, but no steps have ever been taken to prohibit the use of
dogs and cats in pet foods.
For the Baltimore City
Paper (September 27, 1995), reporter Van
Smith wrote an extensive article, replete with pictures, of his day
riding with a truck from the Valley Proteins rendering plant. Smith
describes how carcasses of zoo animals and "thousands of dead dogs,
cats, raccoons, possums, deer, foxes, snakes, and the rest that local
animal shelters and roadkill patrols must dispose of each month" are
rendered. Pictures show barrels overflowing with dead dogs and cats
waiting to be rendered.
On January 5, 2000, Florida's Gainesville Sun ran a story on
the Alachua County Animal Shelter where the employees actually had to
deliver the euthanised animals to the rendering plant. Reporter Paula
Rausch wrote that the employees had to "lift them off the truck and
heave them into a pit, exposing themselves to foul odors, putrid
substances underfoot, and having to see the grinding going on". These
duties were taking their toll on the staff at the shelter.
In March 2000, due to public outcry, Valley
Proteins discontinued accepting dogs and cats, leaving shelters in a
dilemma as to how to dispose of the animals in the Baltimore
Prior to the publication of the revised edition of
Food Pets Die For (2003), I learned that Sanimal, the large rendering plant
in Quebec, as of June 2001 was now refusing to accept the carcasses
of dogs and cats. Reporter Philip Lee-Shanok, for the Toronto Star (June 7, 2001),
interviewed Mario Couture, Sanimal's head of procurement, on the
subject of euthanised pets rendered into pet food. Couture stated:
"This food is healthy and good, but some people don't like to see
meat meal that contains pets."
In 2001, I again contacted the Ministry of
Agriculture in Quebec and asked if any other rendering plants in
Quebec were accepting and rendering dogs and cats. The reply was:
"Yes, here is the establishment that now accepts cats and dogs: Maple
Leaf, Inc." Maple Leaf Foods also owns Rothsay Rendering and
Shur-Gain pet foods.
In January 2002, I contacted the Alachua County
Animal Shelter in Florida and was pleased to learn that their
employees no longer had to truck the euthanised animals to a
rendering plant. They had now built a crematorium for disposal of
In research for my second book, Protect Your Pet, it became
evident that California operated more rendering plants and sent more
pets for rendering than any other state in the USA. Reporter Sandra
Blakeslee, in an interview published in the New York Times (March 11, 1997),
quotes Chuck Ellis, a spokesman for the Los Angeles sanitation
department: "Los Angeles sends 200 tons of euthanized cats and dogs
to West Coast Rendering every month."
After acquiring a list of US shelters and
veterinary clinics, I e-mailed 102 veterinarians in private practice
in California and asked how they disposed of euthanised animals.
Ninety per cent of the 78 veterinarians who responded stated that
they sent the animals to rendering. The replies I received named two
companies that picked up the animals from their facilities: D&D
Disposal in California, and Koefran Services in Nevada.
An employee at a Humane Society branch in
California wrote that in his area, Escondido, D&D Disposal picks
up approximately 100 bodies each week. In the same area, there are
three other shelters and more than 100 veterinarians using the same
disposal company. D&D was rather hard to locate, but fortunately
one shelter had a complete address for them. D&D shares the same
address as West Coast Rendering in Vernon, California. Interestingly,
Baker Commodities, another rendering plant notorious for rendering
companion animals, is within a block of West Coast Rendering, as is a
large pet food company that produces several popular brands of pet
Koefran Incorporated, the company that also picks
up dogs and cats in California and Nevada, operates a rendering
plant, Reno Rendering, in Reno, Nevada, and in Provo, Utah. In Utah,
Koefran Services also picks up animal carcasses with the approval of
Have we turned our pets into cannibals?
CONTAMINATED GRAIN IN PET FOOD
As with the sources of proteins used in commercial
pet foods, grains used in dry pet foods are materials unfit for human
consumption. Often these are listed as middlings or screenings. These
can include broken grains, hulls, chaff and joints, and can be
contaminated with straw, dust, sand, dirt and weed seeds.
In less than 10 years we have seen two major
recalls of pet foods because of mycotoxin contamination. Mycotoxins
are fungi which grow when grains are stored in damp conditions. Many
types of mycotoxins can cause serious illness and even death in both
humans and pets.
In 1995, Nature's Recipe pulled thousands of tins
of dog food off the shelves after reports came in that dogs were
vomiting and would lose their appetite after consuming the food. The
fungus in this product was vomitoxin, caused by mouldy wheat used in
the food. Although not a deadly toxin, it can cause serious illness
In late 1998, Doane Products, the manufacturer of
a large number of private-label foods including Ol' Roy, recalled
over 50 lines of foods it produces. The deaths of approximately 25
dogs were attributed to aflatoxin, a deadly toxin that was found in
the corn Doane had used in its products.
We have to wonder how many other pets have become
ill or died from eating contaminated pet food. If owners are unaware
of other cases, they may never question the illness or death of a
SODIUM PENTOBARBITAL RESIDUES IN PET FOOD
In the first edition of Food Pets Die For, I wrote about
the studies undertaken by the University of Minnesota and the fact
that its research showed that the euthanising drug, sodium
pentobarbital, withstood the rendering process without degrading.
This drug is used primarily to euthanise dogs and cats. Animals
euthanised with this drug were ending up in pet foods, but no one
could be sure from batch to batch how much of this drug was actually
in the finished product.
In early 1999, while researching another aspect of
the pet food industry, I came across a note in a report from the
United States Animal Health Association (USAHA): "Over the years, the
Center for Veterinary Medicine has received sporadic reports of
tolerance to pentobarbital in dogs. In 1996, the CVM developed and
validated a method to detect pentobarbital in dry dog food and a
preliminary survey of 10 samples found low levels in 2 samples. CVM
had collected 75 representative dry dog food samples and were in the
process of analyzing these for pentobarbital levels."
At that point in time, testing had been ongoing
for three years. It was clear from the onset that the FDA/CVM would
not provide me with the test results. In May 2001, I filed a request
under the Freedom of Information Act for all documentation relating
to the testing of dry commercial dog foods. Again the waiting began,
and again I enquired numerous times as to the status of my request.
In September 2001, I did receive a reply from the
Office of Communications for the FDA: "We request you wait until the
evaluation process is complete, at which time we will send the full
results to you." They expected these to be ready in January 2002. It
had been well over two years since I first requested the information,
five years from the time they had begun testing these foods.
Finally, in early March 2002, the results were
published. In the 74 samples analysed, over half contained residues
of this drug at levels ranging up to 32.0 parts per billion (ppb). In
an earlier study done in 1998, the FDA found other products
containing this drug, although the amounts were not listed in its
report. Results of both studies can be viewed at the FDA/CVM website,
The FDA/CVM also undertook an assessment of the
risk dogs face if they ingest sodium pentobarbital in pet food. For
eight weeks, an undisclosed number of dogs was given various levels
of this drug, and it was found that: "Dogs who received 150 and 500
micrograms of pentobarbital once daily for eight weeks had
statistically higher liver weights (relative to their body weights)
than the animals in the control groups. Increased liver weights are
associated with the increased production by the liver of cytochrome
P450 enzymes." The report concluded that the levels of exposure to
sodium pentobarbital which the animal might receive through food are
"unlikely to cause them any adverse health effect". The FDA/CVM has
admitted that if these levels - any levels for that matter - of
sodium pentobarbital were found in human foods, those products would
be pulled from the shelves immediately.
In a letter dated March 22, 2002, from Stephen
Sundlof, Director of FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, regarding
my query about this drug and the fact that under the Code of Federal
Regulations it states, "Do not use in animals intended for food", he
writes: "A euthanasia solution such as pentobarbital cannot have a
withdrawal time and its mechanism of action results in tissue reside,
so it could not be used to euthanize animals intended for human or
It is not allowed for use in either human or
animal food, yet the FDA does not plan to take any steps to prevent
or prohibit the presence of this drug in pet food.
Are we slowly killing our pets each time we feed
them commercial pet foods?
Although the FDA/CVM tested a number of pet foods,
we do not know if the food we are feeding our pets contains this
drug; nor do we know what the long-term effects of ingesting this
drug will be. Each batch of rendered material, meat meal, is
different. It depends on what animals they are rendering on that
particular day and if they were euthanised, died in the field or were
killed by another method.
In the last 10 years we have also seen a number of
other species, primarily birds of prey, die from ingesting euthanised
dogs and cats that have been buried at landfill sites. Sodium
pentobarbital stays in the tissues of these animals for extended
lengths of time. We have also seen bears and even a tiger die after
eating animals euthanised with this drug.
It is clear that any animal that has been
euthanised with sodium pentobarbital should be incinerated, not
rendered and fed back to other animals.
DNA TESTING OF PET FOOD
The FDA/CVM also undertook DNA testing on the
commercial dog foods they analysed. Results of the study were
announced in January 2001, and the press release stated that no dog
or cat DNA was detected: "Presently, it is assumed that the
pentobarbital residues are entering pet foods from euthanized,
rendered cattle or even horses."
In communications with agriculture veterinarians,
most stated that sodium pentobarbital is seldom, if ever, used to
euthanise cattle; its cost is "prohibitive". Cattle are killed by
captive bolt and gunshot. Horses are sometimes killed with this
euthanising agent but, again, unless for some specific reason, i.e.,
the horse is seriously injured at a racetrack, the methods used to
kill cattle are also used on horses.
The DNA testing results were extremely vague and
provided no insight into the methods used to conduct such testing.
What it amounted to was: "Take our word for it. No dog and cat DNA
was detected in the food we tested."
After I consulted with a number of forensic
scientists, it became apparent that if indeed the FDA/CVM undertook
such testing, the methods used would be extremely important. No
information was given on the DNA primers. No information was provided
regarding whether they tested for all the metabolites of
pentobarbital. Rather than going the route of asking for the
documentation related to the testing, I immediately filed a request
under the Freedom of Information Act. This was on March 3, 2002.
The wait began, once again, and during that time I
was sending emails to the department, enquiring into the status of my
FOIA request. On December 20, I received what I had hoped was the
information I'd requested, but what I was sent was actually a copy of
a paper titled "Validation of a Polymerase Chain Reaction Method for
the Detection of Rendered Bovine-Derived Materials in Feedstuffs".
This was described as a document "similar" to what I'd requested. But
had I wanted a similar report, I would have asked for such material.
On January 14, 2003, I contacted Steven Unger,
Ombudsman for the Food and Drug Administration, and was advised by
him that they would look into the matter. While I was out of the
country in late January, Mr Unger wrote to advise me that my request
had been denied by the FDA/CVM and that the denial had been mailed to
me on January 22. From the time a request is denied, you have one
month to file an appeal. On February 13, I still had not received the
denial. Finally, in desperation, I asked that they fax me the denial,
which they reluctantly agreed to do. I might add that the mailed
denial finally reached me in late April.
According to Dr Larkins, Ombudsman for the CVM, I
was denied the report based on the fact that the information the CVM
released was not the final report and was made up of "summary
statements which were the written end-product of some oral
briefings". In other words, the DNA information that the CVM released
is not worth the paper it is written on.
With just days left to file an appeal, a lawyer
for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) agreed to
prepare the appeal. On February 15, I mailed, Priority Post, my
appeal to the FOI office. Through a tracking system and communication
with the Post Office, I found that by February 27 my document had not
been received by the appropriate office. On February 28, the Freedom
of Information officer informed me that it would be acceptable, given
the problems I had encountered with the agency, to fax my appeal,
which I did on that date.
It is clear that the FDA/CVM has been feeling the
heat from the pet food industry with regard to the use of euthanised
pets in commercial pet food. With its press release noting that no
dog and cat DNA existed in the rendered dog foods, the agency felt
that pet owners would no longer confront the industry with the fact
that companion animals were being used as sources of protein in their
RESEARCH BY CORPORATIONS AND UNIVERSITIES
Having spent over 13 years researching this
industry, I thought I was aware of all aspects as they relate to the
ingredients used in pet foods. I was wrong!
In early January 2002, I received a letter from a
student at the University of Illinois, asking if I could make some
suggestions as to what they could do about nine dogs that were housed
in a windowless lab at the university. These dogs had cannulas
(tubes) surgically implanted in their sides so that samples of
digested food could be taken. The studies included feeding the dogs
raw and rendered animal by-products including "poultry necks and
backs and viscera, and ground-up poultry feathers". Until 2002, this
research was funded by the Iams company, but now is being funded by
the soybean industry and the US Department of Agriculture.
Over the years I've been aware of dogs and cats
being used for research - research into human medicine, a practice of
which I don't approve - but I'd never realised that an industry that
claimed to care about the welfare of pets would undertake such
barbaric practices. I was soon to learn that this was just the tip of
the iceberg. Iams had been notorious for carrying on such
Two animal rights organisations - In Defense of
Animals, based in the United States, and Uncaged, based in the United
Kingdom - outlined some of the animal experiments. Iams claimed that
it used these studies to support its nutritional claims, which it
uses to market its products.
Iams experimentation conducted on dogs and cats
included the following:
1. Twenty-eight cats' bellies were cut to see the
effect of feeding the cats fibre; then the cats were killed
(University of Nebraska and the Iams Company; Bueno, A.R., et al.,
Nutrition Research, vol. 20, no. 9, pp. 1319-1328, 2000).
2. Twenty-four young dogs were intentionally put
into kidney failure, subjected to invasive experimentation, then
killed (University of Georgia and the Iams Company; White, J.V. et
al., American Journal of Veterinary
Research, vol. 52, no. 8, pp. 1357-1365,
3. The kidneys of 31 dogs were removed to increase
the risk of kidney disease, then the dogs were killed and their
kidneys dissected (University of Georgia and the Iams Company; Finco,
D.R. et al., American Journal of Veterinary
Research, vol. 55, no. 9, pp. 1282-1290,
4. Bones in the front and back legs of 18 dogs
were cut out and stressed until they broke, to show the effect of
diet (University of Wisconsin and the Iams Company; Crenshaw, T.D. et
al., Proceedings of 1998 Iams Nutrition
5. Ten dogs were killed to study the effect of
fibre in diets (Mississippi State University and the Iams Company;
Buddington, R.K. et al., American Journal
of Veterinary Research, vol. 60, no. 3,
pp. 354-358, 1999).
6. Eighteen male puppies' kidneys were chemically
damaged; the puppies were fed experimental diets, tubes were inserted
into their penises; then the puppies were killed (Colorado State
University and the Iams Company; Grauer, G.F. et al., American Journal of Veterinary Research, vol. 57, no. 6, pp. 948-956, 1996).
7. Twenty-eight cats were surgically forced into
kidney failure and either died during the experiment or were killed
to study the effects of protein (University of Georgia and the Iams
Company, Proceedings of the 1998 Iams
8. Fifteen dogs' bellies were cut open and tubes
were attached to the dogs' intestines, the contents of which were
pumped out every 10 minutes for two hours; then the dogs were killed
(University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Iams Company; Hallman,
J.E. et al., Nutrition
Research, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 303-313,
9. Sixteen dogs' bellies were cut open and parts
of the dogs' intestines were taken (University of Alberta and the
Iams Company, Journal of the American
Society of Nutritional Sciences,
10. Healthy puppies, chicks and rats had bone and
cartilage removed to study bone and joint development (Purdue
University and the Iams Company, Proceedings of the 2000 Iams Nutrition
11. Invasive procedures were used to study
bacteria in 16 dogs' intestines (Texas A&M University and the
Iams Company; Willard MD, et al., American
Journal of Veterinary Research, vol. 55,
no. 5, May 1994).
12. Twenty-four cats had their female organs and
parts of their livers removed; they were made obese, then were
starved (University of Kentucky and the Iams Company; Ibrahim, W.H.
et al., American Journal of Veterinary
Research, vol. 61, no. 5, May 2000).
13. Fifty-six dogs had their female organs removed
to study beta carotene (Washington State University and the Iams
Company; Weng, B.C. et al., Journal of
Animal Science, vol. 78, pp. 1284-1290,
14. Sixteen dogs' bellies were repeatedly cut to
take parts of the intestines (Texas A&M and the Iams Company;
Willard, M.D. et al., Journal of the
Veterinary Medical Association, vol. 8,
pp. 1201-1206, 1994).
15. Six dogs had tubes implanted into their
intestines and fluid drained repeatedly to study cereal flours
(University of Illinois and the Iams Company, Murray, S.M. et al.,
Journal of Animal Science, vol. 77, pp. 2180-2186, 1999).
16. Thirty dogs were intentionally wounded and
patches of skin containing the wounds removed to study diet and the
effect of various ingredients on wound healing (Auburn University and
the Iams Company; Mooney, M.A. et al., American Journal of Veterinary Research, vol. 59, no. 7, pp. 859-863, 1998).
17. Five dogs' bellies were cut open and tubes
inserted into their intestines to study the effect of fibre
(University of Illinois and the Iams Company, Muir, H.E. et al.,
Journal of Animal Science, vol. 74, pp. 1641-1648, 1996).
18. Parts of the large intestines of 28 dogs were
removed to study the effects of fibre (University of Missouri and the
Iams Company; Howard, M.D. et al., Journal
of Animal Science, vol. 75, suppl. 1, pp.
19. Parts of the intestines and immune system of
16 dogs were cut out to study the effects of fibre (University of
Alberta and the Iams Company, Proceedings
of the 1998 Iams Nutrition Symposium).
20. Five dogs had tissue from large and small
intestines removed to study intestinal tract needs (University of
Illinois and the Iams Company, Proceedings
of the 1998 Iams Nutrition Symposium).
Procter & Gamble (P&G) purchased Iams in
September 1999 and issued a code of ethics. Animal People, an on-line
organisation devoted to the health and welfare of pets, reported in
June 2001 that P&G stated its intention to phase out animal
testing as quickly as alternatives could be developed and approved by
In 2002, an investigator from PETA infiltrated one
of the Iams labs in the US. What was found was a horrifying situation
where dogs and cats were confined to small cages for up to six years.
Dogs had their vocal cords removed so they could not bark. The
animals suffered with severe heat in the summer and freezing
temperatures in the winter. Videotapes showed researchers dumping
dogs on concrete floors after having huge chunks of muscle cut out of
their thighs. The cruelty continued. Cats were confined in
cinder-block rooms with wooden boards, nails sticking out of them, as
resting places. The PETA investigator watched as one of these boards
fell on a cat, killing the animal.
Be assured that Iams is not the only company
involved in such cruel research. Ralston Purina, prior to its
acquisition by Nestlé, Hill's Pet Nutrition, owned by
Colgate-Palmolive, Pedigree Pet Foods, owned by Mars, and Alpo Pet
Foods, prior to its acquisition of Nestlé, are just a few of
the companies involved in animal experimentation.
PET FOOD: A GLOBAL CONCERN
The pet food industry worldwide is basically the
same as that in the United States with little, if any, regulations
regarding the ingredients used in its products.
And as with the situation in Canada, a vast
percentage of the pet foods sold in other countries is imported from
the United States.
In Australia, the Pet Food Industry Association of
Australia (PFIAA), a voluntary organisation, fills the same role as
the Pet Food Institute in the United States, with a goal of promoting
pet foods and setting standards for this self-regulated industry.
Again, labelling text, not the source of ingredients, is the prime
concern of this agency.
The other Australian agency involved with pet
food, the National Registration Authority for Agriculture and
Veterinary Chemicals, has as its "main role, with regard to pet
foods, the registration of therapeutic claims associated with
veterinary diets". Their role would not cover pet foods sold in
supermarkets or feed stores; only pet diets that are sold through
veterinary clinics and used for health-related problems. The NRA's
role parallels that of the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) in
In August 1997, the Australian Competition and
Consumer Commission (ACCC) asked for a guideline review of pet foods
after consumer complaints about the labelling of certain varieties of
pet food being potentially misleading as to which protein was the
main one. One example was a pet food which was essentially a meat
product and was labelled as a fish product. During its investigation,
the ACCC found that the labelling of other varieties of canned pet
food was also potentially misleading and deceptive. It was agreed by
the ACCC and the PFIAA that revisions to the labelling were needed.
In the United Kingdom, the organisation that
oversees the pet food industry is also much like the Pet Food
Institute in the United States. The Pet Food Manufacturers'
Association (PFMA) represents approximately 95% of the UK pet food
manufacturing industry and is comprised of 56 member companies. Their
role is to promote pet food products and responsible pet ownership,
represent their members' views to United Kingdom and European Union
government departments and raise standards in the pet food industry.
If you believe PFMA's literature, then the
policies in the United Kingdom are much stricter than those of other
countries. "Member companies only use materials from animal species
which are generally accepted in the human food chain," states Alison
Walker, spokesperson for the PFMA. "This rules out the use of any
materials from horses, ponies, whales and other sea mammals,
kangaroos and many other species. The pet food industry only uses
materials of beef, lamb, poultry and pork origin, fish, shellfish,
rabbit and game."
The literature further states that PFMA members
use only material derived from animals that have been inspected and
passed as fit for human consumption. Most of the material derived
from these animals would be listed on the labels as meat by-products.
I questioned the PFMA about the pet foods that are imported to the
United Kingdom because of the dubious ingredients used in some of
these products. Alison Walker of the PFMA replied to my inquiry,
writing: "The import certification relates to materials specifically
allowed in pet food - e.g., low-risk materials or, in other words,
that [which] is fit for, but not intended for, human consumption." Ms
Walker also advised that it is illegal to use dead companion animals
in the manufacture of pet food in the United Kingdom and in most
European countries. In the US and Canada, there are no regulations
which prohibit this material from being used in commercial pet food.
The PFMA leaves it to the member companies to
operate their own in-house quality assurance programs and feeding
trials. Pet food manufacturers are also in charge of testing the
incoming raw materials used in their products. Because of the number
of cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the United
Kingdom, and the number of cats that have died from the feline form
of this disease (90 documented cases to date), certain materials
derived from beef have been banned for use in pet food. This includes
the head, spleen, thymus, tonsils, brain and spinal cord, and the
large and small intestines of cows as well as sheep or goats. It is
still legal to use pigs in pet foods because there have been no known
cases of spongiform encephalopathy in these animals.
WHAT PET OWNERS CAN DO
As we have seen, the commercial food we are
feeding our pets is generally garbage and, in my opinion, is unfit to
feed to our pets. For the last 13 years, I have fed my pets a
home-prepared diet comprised of lightly cooked meat or fish, grains
and fresh vegetables and fruit. All of them, including my 27-year-old
cat, have done extremely well.
The only way we will see a change in this industry
is for pet owners to boycott pet foods that contain inferior
ingredients, including drugs which would never be allowed in the
human food chain. We must also boycott companies that undertake
experiments on animals - not only on dogs and cats but on
all animals. It
is apparent that the only reason these experiments are undertaken is
to ascertain the cheapest, most viable sources of protein, grains and
fats that can be used in pet foods.
It is you and I who will make a difference.
About the Author:
Ann Martin is the author of Protect Your
Pet (NewSage Press, 2001) and
Food Pets Die For (NewSage Press, 1997, 2nd edition 2003). For more
information, visit the web page http://www.newsagepress.com/foodpetsdiefor.html#author. To order Ann Martin's books, contact NewSage Press by
telephone on 877 695 2211 (toll free in North America only), by email
at email@example.com, or via http://www.
newsagepress.com or Amazon.com.
previous article on Polluted Pet Food, published in
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