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Bugs and Pesticides in the Pet Food, Shared by an Employee

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  1. Holly

    Just thinking out loud. It seems like pet food suicide for a company to have so many employees that know the product they’re making and shipping is sub par. . Don’t they think that someone, eventually will spill the beans? How do they keep all those people quiet?

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      I can tell you that from those that I talk to, it is the worry of losing their job. Losing an income. They have a home, a car, a family to feed – and they need the job. Those that I have talked to don’t like these things happening one bit, but they also don’t like the thought of a family being homeless. They are in a very difficult situation.

      This should never happen – and wouldn’t happen (at least not very often) IF regulatory did their job. They don’t get caught –

  2. Dianne & pets

    The saddest part is the consumer who instead of asking for proof that the laws are being followed, asks for proof that they are not. To a certain extent I cannot fault them because dealing with the implications is probably something they just can’t put their head around. Once you start to question, you question everything and then feel like you are playing Russian roulette with every bite you put into yours or your pet’s mouth. If only there truly was good effective whistle blower protection. I understand completely about not wanting to be identified. Not only do they risk their jobs but they risk the wrath of their neighbours, friends and family who may suffer fall out as a result.

  3. Linda M

    As a follower of TruthaboutPETFOOD/ Susan Thixton what gets me the maddest is the constant failure of the FDA across the board. Its not surprising to see how they fail pets for they have failed us, the public (humans) for years. They ok so many products, especially prescriptions drugs that are proven to be harmful and in some cases for some people fatal. We need a government branch to crack down on the FDA and force them to do the right thing and their job. Our best defense is to research things our selves and if its FDA approved avoid it until all the facts are in.

  4. Pat

    Another reason to feed grain free!

    1. Dr. Laurie Coger

      True, Pat! But sadly, this kind of BS occurs with vegetables included in grain free formulas. I think Susan has shared pics of some disgusting, rotting veggies intended for pet food. Not to mention the fish from the unrefrigerated truck intended for cat food!

    2. Jane Democracy

      Mycotoxins can be present in any form of dry goods. They can be due to weather, geographical or storage conditions. And the components that are substituted for grains in grain free dog food are dry goods. Therefore pest infestations and mycotoxins can be issues. Potatoes are often used as a substitute for grains and if any part of green or sprouted potatoes are used, these can be toxic as well and since dried potato can be “waste” from industry this is something to watch for. If the potato flour or meal has a greenish hue it can be refused but I am sure they just take it back and mix it in with better product so they can still sell it. Same goes for the lentils or peas….

    3. Debbie

      Another reason to feed your pets HOMEMADE. stop buying commercial pet FEED/foods. once people STOP buying this garbage, they will be forced to make changes.

      Jane said it best on fillers in grain free.. it isnt any better.

      pet food is nothing more than our garbage waste. pets are getting it and its killing them left and right.

      And yep you are right Susan..unless someone comes forward to tattletale….it will continue. There needs to be a GROUP of employees to do it. then if they all get fired, it will be because of that. IMO , I couldnt work at a place knowingly that they did this to pet foods or anything unjust. so time for that employee to find a new job (not in the FOOD industry) ..then tell it to the public.

  5. Pacific Sun

    This is a complex issue. Because if it weren’t for the “Insiders” then issues would never even get published. So our blessings and gratitude go to all the brave souls who share their confidences with Susan! And thank them on behalf of the pets who have no voices. Because becoming sick and suffering due to known defective PF is a form of animal abuse.

    The last article about there being market for the damaged rice crop, shockingly drew only 5 comments! My guess is, people (meaning the ones who share Susan’s advocacy awareness) accept these practices as reality. And no longer even have the energy to protest or express outrage anymore. My second guess is, that damaged grain (particularly from the LA. flood zone) isn’t just going into PF. But is probably going into some very cheaply made frozen meals or soup sold in deep discount stores. The poorest quality grain is probably tested for degree of toxicity (to protect the product from being obviously traced). And then dumped into human food, just as long as it won’t make someone seriously sick! (Although everyone’s heard of the “24 hour flu” right?

    But the pesticides being used to kill bug infested ingredients is very telling! On one level bug infestation means a sub-quality ingredient which has always been a problem in PF. But on another level, the defective ingredient is being intentionally treated with a known carcinogen (Bug Killer)! And that part is criminal behavior. Because who’s to say the dose is always perfectly regulated.

    No poison should ever be allowed in any material meant for ingestion. Because even kids can get into material in a home setting. This is not just about people not caring what a dog eats. It’s about knowingly risking the health and safety of people! Please remember there’s no warning label on the bag of “Fluffy’s Kibbles” (this food is not intended for human consumption).

    Yes everyone has to make a living and pay their mortgage. Sometimes an area only has one suitable business for making a living wage and supporting a family. That’s a reality. But where does the line get drawn (as we make our easy judgements in the comfort of our own homes). Between the average people having the right to make a decent living (no dispute). And drawing the line at with the “Decision Makers” who have the discretion and accountability for doing things safely and legally. Would they not also say, that their career / employment is also on the line as well. And that they can’t turn any large corporate business around either.

    So where does the problem get attacked. Through the Dept. of Ag./ FDA / OSHA. Of course they are all career minded employees too, most of which will never buck the system either. That’s probably what they’re all muttering about under their breath when Susan leaves the room! And so we have one, lonely PF Consumer Advocate, pointing out the “pit falls” in order to protect her Supporters. While everybody else is still passing the buck, excusing themselves from RESPONSIBILITY and good CONSCIENCE.

    Wish I had a solution.

  6. Rebecca

    Someone needs to turn this manufacturer into OSHA who governs employee safety. Not only are pesticides dangerous for the animals; they are dangerous in the work environment for the people involved.

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      I talked to OSHA for 30 minutes today and they do need an employee to report it. I explained at length the employee concern, but…

  7. Wilma

    Kudos to Susan and everyone fighting the good fight. All we want is safe, healthy, species-appropriate food for our pets. We want honest labeling.

    And kudos to the whistleblower! You, Ms., are a hero. We will keep you safe.

  8. Marsha

    Whistle blowing in this country is not what you might think it is. I know of people who did blow the whistle and they lost their job, while the ones they b\ew the whistle on kept their jobs for almost a year., Until the investigation was found to be true. Those that lost their jobs had to have an attorney fight to get the jobs back with back pay and benefits.
    I for one understand why they do not want the place where they work to be named or the company. Just proud of them for letting Susan know about this.

  9. Jane

    Pacific Sun: The solution to this problem is fairly simple: make your own pet food from human grade ingredients. I stopped paying $2/pound for garbage in a pretty bag when I realized I could make my own pet food for that price. People get tired of me telling them this over and over; but anyone who cares for their pets and knows the truth can protect themselves.
    I also write to my representatives periodically to demand that the FDA be de-funded, since they are not doing the job that we taxpayers are paying them for.
    And, BTW, it is perfectly legal for pesticide contamination to be present in pet food!!!!!

    1. Pacific Sun

      My question was rhetorical and sarcastic. Solutions are very possible. But they will never begin while only a relative handful of aware consumers are making their own food. Strangely, during the ’60’s, buying a box of Milkbone Biscuits meant being infested with those little flour beetles. They have since disappeared from the market. The beetles, not the product. Because you’d have to stop and clean out every single cupboard, which was so annoying. I am sure consumers started screaming about the inconvenience. But maybe a little inconvenience was better than feeding your dog a holy-moley dose of Round-Up …l

      from: http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/ResourcesforYou/ucm268125.htm
      Pet Foods

      “FDA regulations which apply to pet foods as well as other animal feed products are published in Title 21, Parts 501, 573, 579, 582, 584, and 589 of the Code of Federal Regulations. As with human food, pet foods may not be adulterated or misbranded. Pet foods may not contain any poisonous or deleterious substances or residues of pesticides in excess of established tolerances.”

      Whatever the whistleblower was calling out must have been catastrophic enough to take such a risk! Excessive pesticide usage puts pets and workers at risk. A normal dose of any treatment to be approved is going to be a controlled sample benign enough to demonstrate tolerance. And yet, pets eat the same food continuously, often from a huge bag (or single batch) of PF. Workers are exposed to the stuff without relief. A bag that’s stored in and sold from warehouses, is also exposed to more treatments because of rodent prevention.

      True, pesticide is involved in our entire food distribution system. But people don’t eat the same thing daily. We can (to some degree) wash off residue. But it is, no doubt, compounded in PF when multiple ingredients have been individually treated as well, and then are put together!

      I don’t think it IS legal to permit accumulating toxicity in a commodity from multiple sources of pesticide usage. Doing so would turn the product into an adulterated food. The trick here, would be testing samples. But nobody can do that, unless they know where to start. And they are mandated to do so by public expectation. Thus the problem.

      De-funding the FDA isn’t the answer! Good heavens it needs a core of regulators dedicated to the PFI alone. It needs and army at this point. But the only way to make that point stick, is by exposing the deficient methods (over and over again) PF manufacturers use to KNOWINGLY put pets (and factory workers) at risk!! It can only be through extreme consumer demand that regulation and meaningful consequences are established. The PFI must be forced into becoming self-regulatory. And I certainly don’t see that happening during the next administration.

      1. Cindy

        I recently had a bag of a premium grain free dog food that was infested with pantry moths. I guess I should be glad they had not sprayed pesticide on it?

  10. Debi Cohen

    Probably just a marker for what they are putting into processed foods and into kids school lunch programs. Trust for these people is totally gone, America, where money replaces conscience.

  11. Joan

    This is so sad. I am feeding a commercial pet food (Acana, if I can mention the name) to my 5 dogs. From what I could check, I trust them. But it is impossible to know, and my concern about balancing nutrients keeps me from cooking my own food for them. Also, I have a litter about every two years, and need to be able to recommend a food to the puppy buyers. There is no way that all/most of them are going to cook for the dogs — there have got to be reliable commercial foods. A friend once told me that if you could see what gets sprayed on our own fruits and vegetables coming up from the south, you’d never eat them. What a brave new world we live in!

    1. Holly

      Acana’s one of the better processed foods. I give you credit for feeding a good food so that you can recommend it to those who buy your puppies. Just be aware that Champion foods, the maker of Acana and Orijen, just opened a US plant. People are complaining that the quality at the food coming out of the US plant is not the same as the product manufactured in Canada.

      1. Dianne & pets

        I will have to call them and find out how to tell if what I am intending to buy comes from the States or Canada.

      2. alphadog

        You just ruined my day! I have been super pleased with my dogs’ condition on Acana. At the price I pay I expect Consistency. Back to the drawing board again…

  12. M.Lynch

    I was researching home feeding already, but that flood article pushed me to start cooking. If that article hadn’t done it, this one would have. The media could have a field day with the entire dog food issue if they actually did investigative reporting anymore. But if witnesses aren’t free to come forward, that’s a real roadblock Kuddos to the heros who speak up. Hoping that all efforts to get something done are successful.

  13. Dianne & pets

    It just occurred to me, the guilty company will know it was one of their employees. I wouldn’t necessarily post this in case the company is too stupid to think of it themselves.

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      The company will definitely know an employee talked, but unlike what can happen with regulatory officials – I will protect the employee identity.

  14. Diane

    Not that this would make it any better, but why do they even have to use pesticides? Wouldn’t the processing kill the bugs anyway?

    1. Pacific Sun

      Like with the Boxes of Milkbone Cookies we used to buy in the late ’60’s, and with bags of Gold Medal Flour for that matter, came with the little flour beetles. I wonder even if after making the cookie if the beetles just didn’t enter the box, same with flour bags. So when they’re talking about the use of pesticide, are they actually talking about spraying the production and packaging line, So that a topical residue remains. If so, that would be very detrimental to factory workers who don’t have access to breathing filters and safety clothing. In fact the only way this is going to get corrected, is because of the danger to the workers (and not even the pets).

      1. Jane Democracy

        Usually the flour beetle larvae come in the raw product but would die during the milling/extrusion/drying process. It is a storage and sanitation issue. Packaging materials and finished products should never be stored beside raw materials this is just standard food safety practice, but with space being a $ premium and checking a rarity many things can and do happen which allows the cross contamination back into the finished product.
        Insecticides should never be sprayed during production or on product.
        There are only some insecticides that are approved for use inside food production facilities (FYI rodenticide should never be used inside a warehouse, production facility or where it can potentially come in contact with food (people or pet).
        But again everything comes down to the food safety knowledge,knowlege in general and honesty of the facility and employees and also sometimes company policy is completely disregarded by employees even though the company would fire them if they knew. Uggh so frustrating

  15. Tracey

    Thank you Susan! I blew the whistle on issues with USDA and they were in the process of firing me when I quit. The “Whistle-blower Protection Act is a joke and everyone knows it I also quit a job in the lab of a meat packing plant because they were falsifying microbiology counts (1980’s not that things have changed). I had no job or money either time (or family to support) and considered my faith and ethics more important then killing people (yes people could easily have been dying). These people can not afford to lose their jobs and to say anything is risky. They are true heroes and I hope Susan tells them that whenever possible. Just think of how many lives and illness this might prevent!

  16. Janice Alexander

    Tracey, you are the truly brave one here. An employee who is willing to have pets or people die just to keep a job is not very ethical or brave. I am sorry, wringing your hands while you say keep my name out of it is not the solution. If it will take an exposure that including names to stop this practice, then that is the right thing to do. If animals or people are going to die so you can keep your job, it is not right. I could not believe that people could go to work everyday at that peanut butter plant in Tennessee while people were dying from eating the disgusting stuff. What a disgrace. How can you live with yourself? Stand up to something!!! There are jobs out there and you can sleep at night

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      Janice – unless you walk in their shoes, how can you judge them? This is not a simple situation. The people I have talked with have all shared one common sentiment…they have tried, and tried, and tried to correct a wrong. No one listens. No one cares. Not the company, not any regulatory authority. Their common feeling, if they go public they will lose their job and still nothing will be done. I myself have reported issues countless times to regulatory authorities, to my knowledge not even an inspection was done in any instance. And with regards to someone getting another job, do you think any other company would hire a whistle blower employee? No, they don’t. The best I can tell you is that I try my best and the people that share little snippets of information with me try their best.

      1. Wilma

        Thank you, Susan. Just as animals do not have a voice, some humans do not, either.

  17. Reader

    Janice, your frequent comments always demonstrate how much you really care about pets and safety! You’re a great contributor.

    But sadly when this kind of viewpoint is expressed (criticizing the workers), it tells the “Insiders” that we don’t respect them *just because* they remain anonymous! Some towns only have one viable employment opportunity! When workers don’t feel appreciated by the consumers they’re trying to warn, then they won’t be coming forth the next time! If anything, they deserve our particular concern because their job is actually a risk to their health! Don’t people think they would QUIT if they could?!

    It is the government’s responsibility (meaning OUR legislators) to correct these situations, that’s why Unions were formed. Stewards represented employees’ concerns. Their was strength in a unified voice. Management was forced to listen. But lately organized labor has been vilified, while consumers who want “cheap” continue to support off shore labor instead (thus weakening the Union’s position)! Shame on us! Shame on us, for not complaining with our Votes!!

    Regarding dogs, it’s not impossible to replace commercial food occasionally with whole foods. I buy inexpensive Costco stew meat, bake it, mix it with cooked sweet potato, locally produced brown rice, and a veggie. It’s filling, protein rich, and I alternate with a raw food diet that has appropriate vitamins, minerals and calcium. This may not be the “perfect” diet, but I’m through worrying. I’d rather half of the diet be human grade, and the other half b.a.r.f.! If we consumer advocates promote this kind of message over and over, then we can begin to drain some of the dollars away from these criminally managed kibble companies! After all, they ARE getting away with … murder!

  18. Teresa Johnson

    While not a food issue, I was employed by a company that used a very harsh, yet OSHA approved, cleanser for cleaning the cash register area, conveyor belt, etc. It had a strong odor, triggered my asthma and generated complaints from customers. I asked, repeatedly, for an alternative. Because I’d become the proverbial thorn in the side, management began looking for any excuse to let me go. I had an excellent work record, came in early, stayed late when asked/needed, came in on days off when others had called off, was a team trainer, was well liked by most every co-worker and had never had a complaint in near 8 years. Then, due to a credit card glitch, a complaint was lodged by one customer and the management used that one complaint as reason to let me go.
    When co-workers and customers found what had happened, they couldn’t believe it and many asked what they could do to help me get my job back. A wrongful firing suit would have only cost me more than I could afford and, if I’d gotten my job back, would have opened the door to more “discomfort” in the work place. I did contact corporate headquarters and the appropriate department for employee complaints and gave my story. It took two years but the company did change cleansers to a hydrogen peroxide dilute, virtually odorless, more environmentally friendly and less costly. I’ve never gotten a reward when I’ve taken surveys from register receipts nor have I been rehired, even for seasonal temp employment, in spite of multiple openings at multiple branches of the company in my area. Why? I believe being so vocal on that one issue not only got me wrongfully fired but got my name and email flagged in company files that I’m passed over. So be it. At least I can sleep comfortably at night and live with my conscience. I was fortunate enough to have a spouse with an income. While loss of employment hurt, life was manageable. I fully understand and can appreciate the protection of those employees who speak out in confidence. It will mean taking the long way around to make change happen but it doesn’t mean change won’t happen.
    It would be nice to know what pet food company has such low value of it’s product(s) but I understand the legalities of not naming (yet!!). Thank you Susan for having a conscience.

    1. Dianne & pets

      I would say that the company has a callous disregard of its customers. Not to unlike the drug dealers who add stuff that kills their buyers. They make the mistake of believing there will always be more customers to replace the ones they kill.

  19. Anthony Hepton

    When sub standard products are manufactured and identified by Quality Assurance as being clearly unsuitable for commercial sale, they may be set aside for donation to pet shelters. The manufacturer then claims to have made a donation to charity at full market value and may appear on a list of companies doing great things for the pet community. Such a double standard.

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