Harvey, Irma and Pet Food
Any food that required refrigeration was cleaned out of every grocery in Florida and Texas that lost power during these two damaging storms. Meats, frozen foods, dairy. Guess where all that spoiled food goes?
Just considering meat…
From hurricane Irma, most of the state of Florida lost electricity for at least 2 days – many areas are still without power. From hurricane Harvey, most of southern Texas lost electricity for several days. In Florida alone – just one grocery chain, Publix – has 776 stores and 7 distribution centers. If we estimate that 700 stores lost power – each having an estimated inventory of 5,000 pounds of meat…that’s a conservative 3.5 million pounds of spoiled meat from one single grocery chain in just one of the two states devastated by recent hurricanes. Not including distribution centers.
From groceries alone – we can conservatively assume 10 million pounds of meat spoiled in Florida, another 5 million pounds of meat spoiled in Texas.
Guess where all that spoiled meat goes? To a landfill? No.
The spoiled meat will be diverted to pet food; purchased from grocery chains by meat salvage companies.
And all the spoiled frozen foods and dairy products will be diverted to livestock feed. Imagine the millions of tons of spoiled frozen TV dinners, yogurt, cottage cheese. It will all be sold to animal feed. Sometimes the paper, plastic and styrofoam packaging will be removed…sometimes it won’t. No one of authority really cares one way or the other, it’s all done with FDA approval. They only care that spoiled, rotting food is not sold for human consumption.
And that’s not all regulatory allows. Flood damaged crops will be diverted to animal feed. Drowned livestock carcasses will be diverted to animal feed and pet food.
This is nothing new – it happens all the time. FDA and each State Department of Agriculture openly allow these types of ingredients (which are illegal) into pet food and animal feed on a consistent basis. What makes this of significant concern is the massive amounts of additional spoiled meats and additional dead animal carcasses being dumped into pet food right now because of these two hurricanes – it raises the risk to pets dramatically.
Meat is refrigerated to slow/prevent the growth of dangerous bacteria such as Salmonella and E.coli. Bacteria grows in dramatic levels on un-refrigerated meat and/or dead animal carcasses. When these ‘meats’ are cooked the live bacteria are killed – but the dead bacteria produce a dangerous toxin (endotoxin). The higher the level of bacteria = the higher the level of endotoxins. Pets (and humans) can safely handle low levels of endotoxins, but higher levels are deadly.
“Endotoxin entering the body is carried to the liver where it is inactivated. Increased endotoxin levels can damage the liver. Moreover, when the amount of endotoxin reaching the liver is normal, the presence of another potential toxin can interact with endotoxin to damage the liver. The other substances are not necessarily toxins. They include vitamin A, copper and iron, and many drugs. Thus, any level of endotoxin can damage the liver. Exposure to endotoxin should be minimized as much as possible.”
Endotoxemia: the presence of endotoxins in the blood. Endotoxins consumed through food sources are most often absorbed into the blood stream through the intestinal lining.
Dogs: “No clinical signs have been found that are pathognomonic for endotoxemia. Animals show either signs associated with infection (e.g., purulent vaginal discharge with pyometra, coughing with pneumonia, mastitis) or localizing signs such as inactivity and inappetence. Tachycardia, tachypnea, and fever are the clinical hallmarks of SIRS. If a dog is progressing towards severe sepsis or septic shock, signs associated with the GI tract (the canine Shock organ system) can develop, including vomiting or diarrhea, or both.”
Cats: “Endotoxemia is rarely reported and poorly described in cats. In a retrospective case series of cats with confirmed severe sepsis (9 of 29 cats had confirmed Escherichia coli or Pseudomonas spp. infections; endotoxin was not assayed), clinical signs included lethargy, pale mucous membranes, weak femoral pulses, tachypnea, hypothermia or fever, diffuse pain on abdominal palpation, bradycardia, and icterus.”
Pet owners will not be provided with a warning that the pet ‘food’ could contain high amounts of spoiled, rotting grocery store meat that may or may not include paper, plastic and styrofoam packaging or drowned animal carcass meat. This type of meat and meat meal is right now readily accessible for low cost and can be included in any brand of feed grade pet food. This is not hype or being an alarmist. This is a reality that will be happening in pet food very, very soon at significantly higher levels than normal. Any feed grade pet food could utilize this type of pet grade meat/meat meal. The only pet foods that with certainty will not contain this type of meat/meat meal are human grade pet foods. Consumers cannot trust claims of human grade ingredients on pet food websites – regulatory authorities do not scrutinize pet food websites for adherence to law. Know that claims to grade or quality of ingredients are not allowed on labels or websites unless the pet food meets all requirements of the human grade claim. But again, regulatory authorities do not scrutinize pet food websites. They do however closely scrutinize pet food labels. Consumers CAN trust a claim of ‘Human Grade’ on a pet food label. ‘Human Grade’ on a pet food label would guarantee the consumer the pet food contains no spoiled, waste ingredients.
Personally, I think hurricane Harvey and Irma has caused enough destruction. Spoiled, rotting foods and dead animal carcasses caused by these storms should NOT be allowed to cause further destruction to pets and livestock animals. But FDA doesn’t agree. Sickening.
To learn more about endotoxins, Click Here.
Added after original posting: Very quickly I am receiving emails from consumers in disbelief this actually happens. I assure you it does. For those that have followed this website for years, you might remember reading about the August 2015 AAFCO meeting (held in Denver, CO). The topic of discussion in one session was naming the ingredient(s) for expired grocery foods. One example food given was expired yogurt in those little cups. Plastic container included. Dr. Cathy Alinovi stood up and addressed the concern of animals consuming plastic packaging – that milk as example would contain phthalates (element of plastic) from animals consuming feed containing plastic – she didn’t want her daughter or any child drinking phthalates. The entire room – 400 industry people – booed her. Their response to Dr. Cathy’s human health concern was “we are trying to feed a hungry world”.
I understand this is hard to believe – but it does actually happen – every single day in animal feed and pet food. While pet food safety advocates attend AAFCO meetings and speak out against these issues in pet food – there is no one in attendance to advocate for safer livestock feed. We’ve tried to get the large consumer advocacy groups to attend and voice concern – to no avail. It is a concerning situation.
Below are a couple of links to FDA Compliance Policies allowing the above and much more into animal food/pet food…
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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