This is – without a doubt – the most damning evidence of criminal activity the public has ever learned about the pet food industry. The most damning evidence that regulatory has protected industry, not the public or our pets.
Mars Petcare’s annual revenue (2015) is $17,224,400,000.00, making them the largest manufacturer of pet food in the world.
In September 2012 a lawsuit was filed against Mars Petcare – Boyd v. Mars Petcare – with employees (plaintiffs) claiming they were “exposed to toxic levels of Phosphine gas” causing injuries to “their eyes, lungs, respiratory system and internal organs.” The lawsuit would continue for 4 years until someone…’made the problem go away’ (in late 2016); the case was settled just prior to trial and evidence/testimony was sealed from public view.
But the problem didn’t go away, thanks to three brave whistleblowers. Three witnesses have stepped forward – providing TruthhaboutPetFood.com their depositions from the Boyd v. Mars Petcare lawsuit. These depositions disclose numerous significant safety concerns of pet food manufacturing, unimaginable disrespect of employees, unimaginable disregard of public safety, and outright violations of law (ignored by all authorities involved).
As you read excerpts from these depositions, consider that NO regulatory authority did anything to prevent employees from being poisoned by pesticides, and NO regulatory authority did anything to ensure law was being abided by. Also consider that these conditions – as explained in these depositions – could very well effect your pet’s food…could very well effect your own food – because law is rarely enforced. Until all regulatory authorities do their job – we are all at serious risk.
Provided by Rentokil on YouTube is the following video to the proper method to fumigate and aerate containers…(to understand the severity of the circumstances that happened at the Mars Petcare plant – per sworn testimony provided by these whistle blowers – please watch this short video to the proper procedures…the legally required procedure to fumigate and aerate containers of pet food/food ingredients)…
The following information is taken from sworn testimony provided in deposition by Mr. Joey Tyree from the Boyd v. Mars Petcare lawsuit.
Joey Tyree began working for Presto-X/J.C. Ehrlich pesticide company in 2004; Presto-X/J.C. Ehrlich is a subsidiary of Rentokil. He was trained ‘on the job’ by a fellow (Presto-X/J.C. Ehrlich) employee the procedures to fumigate and aerate trailer deliveries of grain and aerate railroad car shipments of grain and meat meal at the Mars Petcare pet food plant in Joplin, MO.
On paper, Mars Petcare’s had strict procedures for the proper aeration of phosphine fumigated railcars and trailers. A Mars document titled “Clearing Fumigated Trucks and Railcars” produced in deposition clearly explains that…
1. Railcars are required to have warning placards displaying the date and time the car was fumigated.
2. The Plant manager is responsible for ensuring all “federal, state and local regulations” are adhered to.
3. Each pet food plant is required to hold “two Micro Pac Plus Ph3 gas detection alarm units for detecting fumigant concentration”.
4. Mars employees exposed to the fumigated materials and “Pest Control Operators” (such as Joey Tyree) are required to undertake “mandatory training completed on an annual basis”.
But that was only on paper.
Per the sworn testimony of Joey Tyree…
- Railcars often came into the Mars Petcare facility with no warning placards and/or the required information was illegible. About “40%” of railcars that Mr. Tyree aerated – the warning placards did not disclose what pesticide was used, when the product was gassed, or any other legally required information.
- The Mars Petcare plant manager never talked to Mr. Tyree assuring federal law and company policy was adhered to, the Mars Petcare safety director never met with Mr. Tyree to assure federal law and/or company policy was adhered to with aeration of railcars.
- He was never provided with a “Micro Pac Plus Ph3 gas detection alarm units for detecting fumigant concentration”. There was only one day that Mr. Tyree was provided with all of the safety equipment law required him to be provided with…that was the day that OSHA made an inspection at Mars Petcare (more on this below).
- He was never required to participate in Mars Petcare “mandatory training” on an annual basis (or ever).
Excerpts from Joey Tyree’s deposition:
Q. Now, aeration, I’ve talked about, that is — uses the term clearing of rail cars; is that right?
Q. What is clearing of a rail car mean?
A. Basically it’s — it’s getting — the product is good to go.
Q. So you’ve cleared it to enter the plant; is that right?
Q. And you’re aerating the poisonous gas phosphine gas out of these rail cars; is that right?
Q. And can you help me with some other terms? We’ve talked about clearing. What’s the term under gas mean?
A. Under gas means it’s — it’s fumigating at that time.
Q. And tell us what fumigation means.
A. Means you’re putting the poisonous gas inside something and you have to measure it by cubic feet and square feet, and you put that much gas in there and it’s supposed to kill everything inside that for a period of time. And then you pull it out and air it out.
Q. Did you ever use a mask or respirator when you did your aerating?
A. One time whenever OSHA was there, is the only time I ever used it.
Q. So Presto-X was — knew you were aerating rail cars but did not provide with you a respirator?
Q. Did you get a respirator then when it was — when OSHA came in 2012 to do the plant inspection?
Q. That was the first time you got a respirator?
Q. And was that provided by Presto-X?
Q. Who provided that to you?
A. Sam Fears.
Q. And was that with a meeting with Sam?
Q. Did he tell you you needed to use a respirator when OSHA was there?
Q. Did you only get that respirator for one day?
A. That’s all I had it for, yes.
Q. When did you first learn that there was a problem at MARS with the way — or with phosphine getting into the plant?
A. July, you know, probably July — first part of July where I had to go up there to Springfield to my — with Sam to talk about doing the fumigation on the 31st of July for MARS.
Q. Okay. And what did Sam tell you at that time?
A. Basically, you know, we’re gonna go do two rail cars and they’re going to be at MARS and OSHA’s gonna be there and we’ll take our Drager, we’ll take our respirator and we’ll take all the stuff we need and go down there and do it.
Q. And that meeting took place after they knew — Sam knew that OSHA was coming on the 31st of July, 2012, correct?
Q. So you had no monitoring devices available to you in your truck, your Presto-X truck during 2006, ‘7, ‘8, ‘9, ’10, 2011 when you were doing monitoring and aeration of rail cars at MARS?
Q. And tell us how the 31st of July played out. How did you happen to know what time to go to the MARS plant?
A. Sam knew. I mean, Sam was there, so he just — I don’t remember the exact time, when it was, but he knew when to be there, and that — we showed up there and did ’em and ..
Q. So during the first half basically of 2012, you aerated 41 rail cars for Mars…you would have released them into the plant without doing any monitoring? Correct. Did MARS say anything to you when you have them this bill basically for 41 cars? Did they say, gosh, you’re doing this wrong or we want you to document this better, or did they just pay it and go on? A. I assume they paid it and went on.
Q. Did Frank Vasquez (safety manager at Mars Petcare) ever talk to you about the fact that you weren’t documenting any monitoring – of aerated cars?
Q. Was there ever a residue on the corn that you saw?
A. There was some, sometimes some gray residue on — on top there.
OSHA stands for Occupational Safety and Health Administration – it is a federal agency charged with protecting employees (not employers). From speaking to numerous employees of this Mars Petcare pet food plant, it was shared that employees alerted OSHA to the poisonous phosphine in the pet food plant. But as you can tell from the deposition, Mars Petcare and the pesticide company were aware well in advance to the OSHA inspection. Law requires NO advanced notice of inspection when employees file a complaint against a company. But somehow – everyone knew. The OSHA inspectors did not question Mr. Tyree – did not ask him if this was his typical procedure to aerate a rail car.
Joey Tyree was terminated from his job at Presto-X one month after the OSHA visit to Mars Petcare.
The following information is taken from sworn testimony provided in deposition by Mr. Steve Faucett from the Boyd v. Mars Petcare lawsuit.
Steve Faucett was hired as a truck driver for KAMO Grains. He delivered trailer loads of grains to Mars Petcare in Joplin, MO “three or four times a day a lot of occasions.” Steve was told to use PhosFume tablets and pellets. “Poured it in the pit.” This was a controlled dangerous pesticide. He was a truck driver – he had no pesticide license.
Q. Was there ever a time when you were exposed to the PhosFume and it made you sick, made you nauseous?
A. Go down to Mars and breathe it and tell me if it makes you nauseous.
Q. Okay, What about at KAMO Grain?
A. I smelled it. When I was loading the trailer, I’d smell it.
Q. Did it make you sick?
A. You’ll puke from it, if you get enough of it in you. Like, down at Mars – I never stood out there at KAMO and puked. I’ve puked in a wastebasket right in the back of the loading bay at Mars from it. You stand in that dust and see if you can breathe that and handle it.
Canisters of PhosFume “littered the KAMO property”.
“College kids that was hired out there use it and all various different guys that was working for them use it.” “Never witnessed anyone at the KAMO facility using any protections like a respirator when applying the pesticide.”
“Grain loads bound for Mars were regularly fumigated in the truck itself with the tarp off so that the load could aerate while in transit to Mars.” “I took them down there numerous times they said to roll the tarp open and tarp it back up before you get there.” “Q. When Rick would tell you to drive a truck to Mars Petcare without a tarp, did he tell you why? A. Untarp it so you can air it out.”
Mr. Faucett was instructed by the company to “take the Central City Road sometimes” – “You know, you can go down 69 Highway. But you realize out here on 69 Highway there’s a DOT checkpoint?” “I worked for them. I was drawing a paycheck. If they wanted me to go down 171, if that’s the route they told me to get on, that’s the way I’m going. It’s their truck, their equipment.”
It is a direct violation of federal law to take a fumigated trailer on the road; it was the direct responsibility of KAMO Grains to prevent that from happening.
“You’d put your good grain on the bottom of the hopper first. And then you’d back up. You’d put the trash in the middle. And then you’d top it off with good grain. Q. Who told you to do that? A. I’ve had Brice do it. Rick’s done it himself on my trailers, and Brice and Zach. And I’ve had it done by everybody that works there, probably.”
Q. Did Rick or Brice sometimes ask you after a load got rejected to wait for a while and resubmit it at Mars on the next shift?
A. I took them back on shift change. If the shift change is going to be right away, I’d sit long enough to make it look like I went back to Pittsburg to take a load back on their facility. And then it would be accepted by the net one.
Mars lawyer to Mr. Faucett: Q. In your affidavit there was the statement on several occasions it was so foggy in the receiving area that you could not see your hand in front of your face and how it burned your eyes and lungs and so forth. Do you recall about how many times that happened?
A. It was pretty regular.
Q. And do you believe that fog was due to phosphine gas, or was it other –
A. I know it was from gas and grain dust and everything. I mean, it was a combination. And like I said, I don’t know what all you guys use down there. But when I’d leave there, I had nothing but red stuff coming out of my mouth and my nose.
Q. Can you specifically recall one instance when a hot load that you knew was hot was accepted by Mars?
A. I believe I hauled a load in there when they was out of grain one night that was hot. And they accepted it. I’m telling you, you know, when Mars was out of grain, rather than shut the plant down, they accepted any load you brought in there. And that’s – and I know they accepted bad loads of corn. And that had nothing to do with KAMO Grain. I mean, I know guys that brought loads in there that should not have been there.
Q. When you say ‘bad corn’ are you talking because it was – it has phosphine?
A. Yeah. They be out there telling you about it, you know. Different drivers that would say, Well, they took it.
The following information is taken from sworn testimony provided in deposition by Mr. Nathan Lowe from the Boyd v. Mars Petcare lawsuit.
Nathan Lowe was hired as a welder and general maintenance employee for KAMO Grain.
Q. Do you remember when you first started to use fumigants, you yourself?
A. Using them? I was around them from Day 1. Using them, I can’t recall.
Q. When you say you were around them from Day 1, what does that mean?
A. I was – I seen what they were. Aluminum cans that would be on the dock. They’d be out by the dump pit everywhere, empty cans.
Q. How much fumigant would you use?
A. It wasn’t a set amount. Just a couple caps here or half a can. I wasn’t ever directed on how much.
Q. How did you know how much to use?
A. I didn’t.
Q. Would they just hand you the canister?
Q. And leave it to you to figure out how much to use?
A. Yes. They just told me to go dump it on there.
Q. In paragraph 6 of your affidavit you describe a process where KAMO, under the direction of Rick and Brice, would mix trash grain with high-quality grain. Tell me about that process. How did it work?
A. They’d tell me what bin to pull it out of, what truck to put it on, from what railcar to put it on. And we just put good grain in the bottom. And we had slopes – slopes in the middle. And we put the good grain in the middle and bad grain on the slopes. It was just like layers. Mix it in, hide it.
Q. Now did either Rick or Brice tell you that you were doing this in order to disguise the use of trash grain?
Q. Who told you that?
A. Both of them.
Q. What did they say?
A. Exactly what you just said, that we tried to get rid of it, hide it.
Q. Did you say, Mr. Elnicki, that’s not right; we shouldn’t be trying to fool our customers that way?
A. He was the one writing my check. No. It wasn’t my call.
Q. Do you have a license to apply pesticides?
Q. Do you know if anybody at KAMO ever completed a fumigation management plan associated with any of the fumigations?
A. Not that I know of.
Q. Did you do it?
Q. Do you know if it’s required by law?
Q. Required to record the rate of application, number of pellets to be used. Did you do that?
Q. Required to record the date and location of each application? Did you ever do that?
Q. Have you ever labeled any bin or truck when you’re fumigating or after fumigation?
A. Label it with what?
Q. Any warning signs or anything?
End of excerpts.
The National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) performed an inspection at the Mars Petcare plant in September of 2012. Click Here to read that full report. NIOSH had intended to return to the plant – “We planned a return medical survey for August 2013 to assess the respiratory health of workers because of our concerns for possible occupational lung disease. The survey was cancelled due to plant closure.” Mars Petcare closed the plant in July 2013 stating “there has been a reduction in demand for pet food partly because people are moving to smaller dogs.”
For consumers that have followed this website for some time, you might recall numerous posts I’ve done about this lawsuit based on the limited information I knew. One of those pieces of information was that this Mars pet food manufacturing facility had a ‘6 foot hole in the roof’ over the mixer. In August of 2013 I questioned Stan Cook of Missouri Department of Agriculture about the hole in the roof – and he said “It wasn’t raining the day we inspected.”
The implications of these depositions is unimaginable and is far reaching. In the full depositions you’ll read that human food companies such as Tyson and George’s Chicken also received ‘bad grain’. The ONLY way this happens is these companies are allowed to let it happen – regulatory authorities are NOT doing their job.
Unfortunately, many pet food ingredients (and human food ingredients) are treated with phosphine gas. Meat meal ingredients, grains, and I assume many vegetable ingredients (any food ingredient that could be infested with bugs/rodents). If phosphine gas is used properly, historically it is of no risk. But if it is used improperly, illegally…many potential problems can occur. We have no idea which companies are abiding by law and properly fumigating the ingredients – and properly washing the ingredients (to remove residual pesticide dust).
It is my opinion that we need first – a full investigation into the Mars Petcare, Presto-X and KAMO Grains circumstances explained in these depositions – with a full investigation into all authorities involved (that did nothing to protect the people making and the pets consuming these pet foods). Then we need assurances from all regulatory authorities they are properly monitoring these companies and monitoring all companies that use phosphine gas treated commodities.
I will be requesting that investigation from all authorities on this issue. The depositions will be shared with FDA, Missouri and Kansas Department of Agriculture, Missouri and Kansas OSHA, Missouri and Kansas Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Missouri and Kansas Inspector General.
To read the full deposition of Joey Tyree – Click Here.
To read the full deposition of Nathan Lowe – Click Here.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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