President Obama announced yesterday (March 15, 2009) that the Mad Cow Disease Loophole has been closed, for human food. Unfortunately for our pets, there is no mention if the strengthened regulations will include safer pet foods.
President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced March 14, 2009 an amended rule that completely bans non-ambulatory cattle from the human food chain. Previously, only non-ambulatory (downer) cattle prior to inspection were rejected for use as human food; the new regulation now bans animals that become ‘downer’ animals after inspection.
Downer cattle are known risk carriers of Mad Cow Disease. A version of Mad Cow Disease has crossed species to cats around the world. Despite the risk to pets, downer cattle have been allowed to be processed into pet foods since the initial ban began for human foods in 2004. Regulations are scheduled to change beginning April 2009 to prevent all Specified Risk Materials for use in any food, finally including pet foods. Many doubt the complete ban will ever take place (myself included), however there are many other concerns for pet owners.
The USDA provides guidance to inspectors at slaughter facilities. As you read just some of the reasons animals are rejected for use in human food, remember, these animals ARE allowed to be processed into pet foods.
• “non-ambulatory disabled livestock as those that cannot rise from a recumbent position or that cannot walk, including, but not limited to, those with broken appendages, severed tendons or ligaments, nerve paralysis, fractured vertebral column, or metabolic conditions.”
• “Animals that are extremely thin and weak – you may see animals that are thin and weak due to chronic disease problems such as pericarditis, pneumonia, nephritis, etc.”
• “Animals may exhibit a variety of skin lesions including papillomas (warts). Be on the lookout for superficial ulcers, sores, blisters or vesicles, particularly around the feet or around the mouth. There are several diseases that may cause these signs, including the dreaded foot-and-mouth disease.”
• “If lesions are infested with maggots, notify the veterinarian because he or she will have to collect samples and send them to the laboratory.”
• “Animals may also show signs of abnormal body discharges or abnormal odors. Abnormal discharges can include excessive salivation, diarrhea, blood, and pus.”
When an animal has been condemned for use in human food, the USDA provides the following instruction for disposal of condemned animal carcasses…
“Under part 314, condemned carcasses must be disposed of by ‘’tanking,” i.e., inedible rendering (9 CFR 314.1). For those establishments that do not have facilities for tanking, condemned carcasses may be disposed of by incineration or denatured by crude carbolic acid, cresylic disinfectant, a formula consisting of one part FD&C No. 3 green coloring, 40 parts water, 40 parts liquid detergent, and 40 parts oil of citronella, or any other proprietary material approved by the Administrator of FSIS (9 CFR 314.3). The Agency is aware that many establishments use activated charcoal to denature inedible materials. Therefore, FSIS recognizes activated charcoal as a proprietary substance approved by the Administrator.” http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OPPDE/rdad/FRPubs/03-025IF.htm
To explain the above instructions for disposal of condemned animal carcasses, some slaughter facilities also have rendering facilities on the same property. ‘Tanking’ would refer to rendering the animal immediately after it was condemned and on the same property. The animal would most likely be euthanized and transferred to the rendering area for processing. Processed condemned animals, and the euthanizing drug, become common pet food ingredients. For those establishments that do not have rendering facilities, the animal carcass must be ‘denatured’ to be clearly marked as condemned. As stated above acid, food dye, liquid detergent, citronella, and activated charcoal are approved denature material. Condemned animal carcasses, including the denaturing ‘approved’ substances of acid and detergents (and worse) are removed to rendering facilities and become common pet food ingredients. Any and all condemned meat producing animals are subject to denaturing, not just cattle.
President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsak, U.S. consumers appreciate the precautions you have taken to assure the safety of beef. However, U.S. pet owners are waiting for you both to take steps to assure the safety of U.S. pet foods. How many years must we wait?
Make sure your pet’s food does not contain rendered risk ingredients; the most common being Animal Fat, By-Product Meal, Meat and Bone Meal, and Animal Digest. Make sure your pet’s food is made from ‘human grade/quality’ meats. Anything less, is a great deal ‘less’.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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