Pet Food Ingredients

Where’s the Recalled Beef?

Where will the almost 9 million pounds of recalled beef end up?  Will it become pet food?

In early February the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a massive beef recall – almost 9 million pounds.  The recall was due to the company – Rancho Feeding Corporation – processing “diseased and unsound animals” without federal inspection.  Much of the recalled beef were by-products, so my first thought was pet food…was any of this recalled beef sent to pet food manufacturers?

A call to the USDA led me to a very helpful young woman that was more than willing to answer my questions.  I was told that at this point, most of their investigation showed that all the recalled beef products was going for human consumption.   So my next question was, ‘What will happen to the recalled products? Will they be destroyed or will they be sold to pet food?’  She was surprised at my question – especially when I informed her that their fellow food safety agency FDA, allows recalled foods (expired foods, diseased animals, bird and rodent excreta contaminated foods) to become pet food ingredients.  She said she would investigate and get back to me about this recalled beef.

Low and behold…she did!  A follow up call from this (wonderful) USDA representative told me “it would depend” whether this recalled beef would ultimately end up in pet food.  That ‘depend’ – depends on if the USDA determines any diseased animals were processed by Rancho Feeding Corporation.  They are still investigating at this point.  But the USDA assured me if they determine any diseased animal was processed – none of that meat will become pet food ingredients.

And then I shocked this USDA representative again.  I told her FDA allows diseased animals to become pet food.  She was so shocked, she had me email her the page of FDA Compliance Policies.

So – we still don’t know if this recalled beef will end up in pet food.  If the USDA has their way, it won’t.  But don’t hold your breath.  Regardless to federal laws that clearly state diseased animals are NOT allowed in any food (human or pet), the FDA provides pet food/animal food manufacturing with free reign.  Just about any waste is welcome in pet food – and the consumer is never informed.

Ask your pet food manufacturer if all meats (including meat meals) are sourced from USDA inspected and approved meat.   Warning – many will tell you their meats are sourced from USDA inspected facilities.  This isn’t what you need to know.  You want (deserve) to know if the meat itself is USDA inspected and approved.  Be persistent.  The pet food and treat companies that have provided us their Pledge to Quality and Origin – have already given consumers this information.  Click Here to view those Pledges.

A few FDA Compliance Policies…

CPG Sec. 675.100 Diversion of Contaminated Food for Animal Use
“FDA does not object to the diversion to animal feed of human food adulterated with rodent, roach, or bird excreta.”

CPG Sec. 675.400 Rendered Animal Feed Ingredients
“No regulatory action will be considered for animal feed ingredients resulting from the ordinary rendering process of industry, including those using animals which have died otherwise than by slaughter, provided they are not otherwise in violation of the law.
Compliance Policy Guide 7126.08 recognizes the AAFCO definitions as generally constituting the common or usual names for animal feed ingredients conforming in origin and content to these definitions. Included are such products as poultry by-product meal, meat meal, meat and bone meal and fish meal.”

CPG Sec. 690.300 Canned Pet Food
“Pet food consisting of material from diseased animals or animals which have died otherwise than by slaughter, which is in violation of 402(a)(5) will not ordinarily be actionable, if it is not otherwise in violation of the law. It will be considered fit for animal consumption.”


Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
Association for Truth in Pet Food

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February 20, 2014

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20 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Where’s the Recalled Beef?”

  1. Nina Wolf says:

    why Susan, who would do such a thing? Certainly not anyone with a “Big Heart”! Hah!

  2. Dianne says:

    What exactly does this mean? “not otherwise in violation of the law” It is hard to imagine that using any of the not legally allowed meat isn’t in violation of more than one law.

    • Susan Thixton says:

      I agree Dianne – and I can’t tell you exactly what it means. FDA doesn’t like to discuss these compliance policies very often.

  3. Gitta says:

    9 million pounds = a LOT of $. Depending on how much will not go into human consumption, I find it hard to believe that what is not fit for human consumption will find its way to a landfill. And why not? What would be so special about this beef that would keep it out of the pet food chain?

    But I don’t think we will ever know where exactly it ends up.

  4. Kathryn says:

    This recall is bs. She says it right there “That ‘depend’ – depends on if the USDA determines any diseased animals were processed by Rancho Feeding Corporation.” They are still investigating at this point.
    The recall dated back to January 2013!! That meat has long been sold and consumed. They don’t know if there were diseased cows or not. Look at Tara firma farms website for more insight into this recall.

  5. Pingback: Anonymous
  6. karyn zoldan says:

    Diseased meat does end up in 4D meat which is fed to racing greyhounds. The 4D stands for dead, dying, diseased, and downer or disabled mixed with charcoal and fed RAW to racing greyhounds. 4D is not fit for pet consumption but never the less racing greyhounds are fed it because it’s cheap.

  7. Terri Halligan says:

    The first thing I thought when I heard about the recall was that all the recalled beef would end up in pet food. I’m so glad I started cooking for my fellas and making their treats.

  8. Anonymous says:

    There is another side to the recall of beef from this small, local slaughter house. Many of the small, local Bay Area farmers who raise their free range animals on pastures (and often organically) use this local slaughterhouse to supply meat to the local farmer’s market and meat CSAs. The meat CSA I belong to has been using this slaughterhouse for many years without any problems.

  9. Kelley Hayden says:

    Feeling very cynical this evening, I find it hard to believe that any company would pass up the opportunity to make easy money from any circumstance, so long as they are not breaking the law or in danger of being sued. What easier way to make money than to sell a compromised product (buy low, sell high) such as recalled meat to the PFI, particularly when the FDA’s compliance policies make it so easy to do so. Yet another reason to serve home cooked, whole foods to your treasured companions.

  10. Eucritta says:

    This recall may not be what it seems at first glance.

    As someone above has pointed out, most of the meat has been long since eaten, with little left to return. There have been no reports of illness, either. The USDA has been very cagey about the investigations and recall. Just this morning they added a mite more information – that staff at Rancho ‘circumvented’ the requirement for inspection – but not how or why. It’s unclear if any actually diseased or unsound animals were slaughtered there. It’s possible, but neither Rancho nor the USDA are talking, and we’ve been given no real information on which to assess actual risk. We haven’t even been told if the diseased, unsound cattle in contention were from one of the local ranches, or the dairy culls Rancho purchased for slaughter and processing on its own.

    Which gripes me no end, because I get almost all our meat from small-scale local operations which used Rancho. So my pets and I are directly affected, even though I was doing my best to provide us all with good-quality meats from humanely-raised pastured animals.

  11. Ellie says:

    When you take a look at the things that are being done to the human food supply it is not difficult to imagine that the food industry and FDA would do just about anything to the pet and livestock food supply.

  12. Eucritta says:

    Follow-up in today’s paper:

    According to the federal meat inspectors’ union, an inspector at Rancho last year repeatedly complained that her supervising veterinarian passed ‘questionable’ dairy cattle for slaughter and ignored her reports of noncompliance with federal regulations, including inhumane treatment and ‘improperly discharged’ waste-water. She also said she’d been harassed, and her supervisors at the USDA also ignored her reports.

    Interesting reading.

  13. Nyx says:

    The complete failure of the FDA to protect our food chain is lost on most Americans. On one hand it is tasked with protecting the health and welfare of the people, yet on the other hand it is heavily funded by lobbyists. The conflict of interest results in a complete failure to protect the people.

    Many of the chemicals in our processed foods, and several pesticides used on crops are banned in other countries which have produced conclusive studies linking these toxins to chronic disease. The FDA “disagrees.” Never expected or believe the FDA cares about or protects the health and welfare of the people over the food and pharmaceutical giants. They simply don’t, and repeatedly prove it.

  14. Nyx says:

    and I forgot to thank you for sharing this article – it’s very, very helpful and informative. Thank you so much Susan!

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Susan Thixton's author is a founding partner of the international pet food consumer association - Association for Truth in Pet Food. Through our consumer association, Susan has advisory position to AAFCO's Pet Food Committee and Ingredient Definitions Committee.