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  1. Mollie Morrissette

    Too bad the only picture in the article was of the end product and not the FIVE FOOT high pile of bloated and rotting corpses.


    And how in the world do you separate specified risk material (the brains and spine) from a decaying mass of rotting flesh?

    Answer: You can’t!

    You can just kiss the idea of BSE-free meat meal goodbye.


    Now I don’t feel so guilty about calling the rendering industry a “freak show” in the PetMD article:

    “Federal inspectors rarely, if ever, visit rendering plants or, for that matter, pet food manufacturers, so I doubt much will change in that department (I don’t recall the statistics offhand, but it’s pretty dismal). We already know that the rendering industry is a freak show that has been allowed to function with impunity for nearly a century, and as that is where most meat destined to be pet food is sourced from, the consumer will not notice any change in that regard. It’s pretty hard to make something so putrid worse than it already is. And as Susan will tell you, compliance policies allow for equally putrid ingredients in pet food.”

    1. Peter

      The term “specified risk materials” is an important one, that and the issue you raise about the impossibility of separating them is one that consumers simply have no awareness of. Neither do they realize that FDA compliance policies allow the rules that they THINK are in place to protect the public to be skirted… every day. I agree: a picture of the corpses would have been jarring.

  2. Craig Caughlin

    I LIVE in Sacramento, read the article you’re referring to and then wrote the following to the journalist who wrote the article –

    I liked your article but I think there’s either a different facet that could have been included, or better yet, an article of it’s own – what happens to all of the dogs and cats that are euthanized???

    The answer is that they also end up in pet food!

    There have been numerous articles written (I’ve attached one, for example), references in books ( Food Pets Die For: Shocking Facts About Pet Food – ) and even videos catching AAFCO food representatives mistakenly disclosing this.

    I have MUCH more information on this and I’ve been waiting for someone to write a current article relative this to this topic.

    If you’re interested in talking further, feel free to contact me.”


    1. Regina

      Thanks, Craig!!!

      Do keep us posted if anything comes of this.

    2. Mollie Morrissette

      Craig – Since you live in Sacto, would you be a doll and go to that plant and snap a few pics of that pile – I know pet parents would love to see it.

      1. Craig Caughlin

        Hey!…that’s a great idea. I’ll have to re-read the article and see if I can figure out a way I can swing by there and take a few pictures!

        Gee, I wonder if the reporter took any other photos they’d share with us???



        1. Ann Vanderlaan

          Mollie, be careful. I’m not sure about local enforcement, but in many jurisdictions the right to take pictures from public right-of-ways is now routinely challenged.

    3. Ann Finelli

      Has Tony or anyone else at the paper expressed an interest in this? Please let us know what you hear.

  3. Regina

    This makes me sick!!!!! I will NEVER buy pet food from the kinds of companies that think this is OK.

    I’m sorry, but the people who do this cannot possibly care about animals. This is all about money, and spending the least to get the most, and I learned a long time ago that there are things that are worth spending more for. For all the love I get from my furry ones, they definitely deserve whatever I spend on them to get the best quality.

  4. Robin

    While using rendered meat for pet food is disgusting, we all use products from the rendering process every day.

    Some Rendering Industry “Products”

    Non-edible tallow: Used in wax paper, crayons and soap

    Oleic acid: Used in foods, soaps, permanent wave solutions, shampoos, hair dyes, lipsticks, liquid make-ups, nasal sprays

    Glycerine: Used in inks, glues, solvents, antifreeze, cosmetics, foods, mouthwashes, toothpastes, soaps, ointments, plastics

    Stearic acid: Used in rubber, cosmetics, lubricants, candles, hair spray, conditioners, deodorants, creams, food flavoring, pharmaceutical products

    Linoleic acid: Used in paints and esters

    Meat meal and bone meal: Used in livestock feed and pet food

    As long as people want to consume cheap milk and beef, rendering will be necessary to deal with the “waste”.

    The industry considers this recycling. The only way to be sure you are not using products that contain rendered ingredients is to look for the humane bunny label.

    1. Wendy

      You nailed it. As long as bilions upon billions of animals are slaughtered for our food supply, the waste pile will always be there to be rendered. I don’t trust the meat industry as a whole, but since dogs are carnivores and humans are not, I decided to feed my dogs fresh meat and I became vegetarian. Best decision I ever made.

      1. KindDog

        Cats are obligate carnivores, but dogs are not. Dogs, like humans, can live perfectly healthy and happy lives as vegans. Very soon after my husband and I stopped eating all animal products, we switched our dogs, who were already dipping into our CSA share, to V-Dog kibble. We watched them closely, as always, and after about a year, their coats and eyes still shine, they still have tons of energy, no skin or digestive issues and their annual bloodwork and checkups are great. They get V-Dog kibble and breath bones and Max & Ruffy’s vegan treats. Of course, they still get some of their favorite fresh stuff too: carrots, green beans, blueberries, etc. We have every reason to be concerned about the pet food industry (especially the animal-based segment) so please consider a vegan diet for your dog.

        1. Wendy

          I completely agree with you, and I did try the vegan route with my dogs – V-Dog in addition to Vegedog from Harbingers of a New Age, but none of my 3 dogs did well on it. The digestive upsets would not abate. I finally put them back on a raw diet and they are doing well. It is a moral dilemma for sure, and the best I can do is buy from local farmers and not CAFO’s.

  5. Ann Vanderlaan

    This might be considered food in light of the forthcoming zombie apocalypse? Otherwise, not so much.

  6. BC

    Mollie- the BSE was the FIRST thing I thought of when reading the article. We already know the BSE “Prion” cannot be killed by any means known to man.
    This using dead – unchecked – meat for animal feed is what has caused the spread of JKD- in deer and elk stocks in the US as the federal agencies drop this feed during harsh winters to keep the herds up for hunting. Now hunters are told they can kill the deer and elk but not consume them- go figure! A money maker is all it is for for the State revenues selling hunting license – and spreading a disease that CANNOT be Controlled and results in death- for all coming into contact.

    1. Ann Vanderlaan

      BSE is certainly an issue, although no longer in the limelight in the US for the last few years. Chronic Wasting Disease in deer is a big issue now in Texas, since Texas’ farmers raise trophy deer for wannabee safarians and big-game hunters to shoot from the comfort of their padded shooting blind chairs.

      1. Mollie Morrissette

        Actually Ann Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), like BSE, is a spongiform encephalopathy (prion disease) specifically CWD is classified as a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy is closely related to BSE, scrapie in sheep and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans. No one knows for certain the origin of CWD, but some theorize that deer came into contact with it at winter feeding stations where, ironically, rendered cow protein was available or that infected deer or elk were rendered as road kill. CWD deer are commonly observed at these winter feeding stations.

        1. Ann Vanderlaan

          You are correct Mollie, CWD is another a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy. As a PhD in Veterinary Systems Physiology I was trying to keep it simple for non-medical readers. Down south, overwintering deer are fed differently than in my native upper Midwest. We do not have CWD in either wild or ranched deer in Texas (so far as we know).

    2. Jane Eagle

      I could not agree more. The way that animals are viewed by most in our culture is seriously sick. Other than us true animal lovers, there is no recognition that any animal has intrinsic value: value to and of itself, not in relation to what humans can get out of it. I stopped eating beef when the BSE scare first hit, and I saw it looked just like JKD. Now I am vegan, and am very careful where the meat comes from that my dogs eat…and I avoid beef for them as well, for many reasons, the least of which is BSE.

      1. KindDog

        Jane: Since you’ve decided to do your health, animalkind and the environment a huge favor by no longer eating animal products, have you considered that your dogs could join you? Please see my reply to Wendy above.

    3. Mollie Morrissette

      Yeah, I know. It’s not just in the spinal and brain tissue, but for the layperson out there I thought it best to leave that argument alone and focus on what our government has decided are SRMs. If people knew the whole story, they would be mortified.

      Anyone working in forensic medicine knows what tissue is like once it is at that stage of decay – very fragile. Fragile in terms of it’s ability to remain intact.

      Add to that the field day the maggots and other critters who have been using them for their personal banquet.

      Let’s not forget the official AAFCO definition of meat and bone meal: …”rendered product from mammal tissues, including bone, exclusive of blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents…” …Uh huh yeah, sure they are. No one in their right mind would bother attempting to de-hide a decaying carcass.

  7. CrashnBurn

    I agree this is disgusting to think our loved pets would eat this garbage, but I’m pretty sure animals in the wild would devour a pile of dead cows. I read a book once about how soldiers would be so starved during the civil war that they would eat leather, dead animals, garbage, and others vomit. :o[

    1. Brent W

      Actually CrashnBurn, carnivorous predators such as lions, etc. won’t eat something already dead. And something lese to ponder. Carnivorous animals in the wild will not eat other carnivorous animals. They will eat only vegetarians.

      1. Ann Vanderlaan

        There is a reason that “like avoids like” (e.g., carnivores avoid eating other carnivores). Some scientists believe that the BSE outbreak that started in GB resulted from the feeding of sheep offal contaminated with scrapie to dairy cattle in the early 1980s as a cost-saving measure. Scrapieis a TSE (transmissible spongiform encephalopathy) identified in the 1730s, over 280 years ago.

        1. Mollie Morrissette

          Sorry Ann, I didn’t realize you already know all this stuff! Me and my big mouth.

          1. Ann Vanderlaan

            Not to worry, and no need to apologize, Mollie. Even though I’ve left teaching and pursued 3 other careers after that, I try to keep up on topics of interest to me — and TSE is one of them. Sometimes I just try to state what I understand in “bare bones” format so there is some take-away. The saddest thing I read these days are papers with language that is so obscure that I scratch my head and say WTF, can’t you people write a simple declarative sentence?

            Scavengers operate on a different level than dedicated carnivores and herbivores. I’m not sure what to make of omnivores. But certainly feeding sheep bits to cows is not the coolest idea around. And I worry about feeding cow/sheep/other remains to poultry which is then recycled back into the food chain for cows, dogs and cats. I’m not aware of TSE in canines; as of March 2012 there is no positive identification of prion disease in captive wolves or companion dogs.

            Sadly though, I suspect antibiotic-resistant superbugs are the more immediate threat to public health.

      2. Mollie Morrissette

        Not all animals in the wild consume carrion (rotting corpses) only scavengers do.

  8. Susan Turner

    This just turned my tummy..flip flop. OMG, how do these people sleep at night knowing that their product(?) Is being used in pet foods?

  9. ML

    I think a major reason why people don’t question the garbage in pet food is because they themselves eat garbage and poisons on a daily basis. Just look at how many food products contain titanium dioxide. Even our children’s breakfast cereal has no nutritional value on its own except for the vitamins that get pumped into them.

  10. Elenora Sabin

    Do we know or can it be learned which pet food manufacturers use this stuff?

    1. Mollie Morrissette

      You probably already know this, but I would estimate that 90% (perhaps more) of the market share use rendered meat meals. Do they all come from shifty renderers? Who knows. It’s the independent renderers I worry about, mostly. You think the PFI is secretive, try digging into the rendering industry.

    2. Ann Vanderlaan

      Also interesting in roadkill. In WV, and other states, roadkill can be distributed to, and consumed by, humans.

  11. Iva Kimmelman

    I would like to assume this rot will wind up in the lowest of the low, Ole’ Roy, but it could wind up anywhere, couldn’t it?
    But not in the food I feed!

    Repeat after me: Natures Logic, Natures Logic, Natures Logic.
    I am using the NL raw chicken dinner to start the weaning process with my litter of whippet puppies. They are so fat and happy on this new solid food!

  12. Denise Moitoza

    I used to have to drive by that plant every day on my way home from work. Anyone who buys a house out there is an idiot. There were days the traffic would back up on Sunrise and the stench, the most horrible stench would make me wretch until I got quite a ways beyond Kiefer. How anything even remotely resembling ‘food’ could come out of there is beyond comprehension. Oh I have to stop, I’m going to get sick.

  13. Craig Caughlin

    I’ve been thinking about this topic, and I *think* I have something even better than pictures…I have the video from the Mike Rowe TV show “Dirty Jobs”.

    Specifically, I have the episode where he spends the day working at the rendering plant ( ). He opens the show by standing by a bunch of dead cows that are crawling with maggots, etc., and he SAYS they end up in…pet food!

    If anyone’s interested in this video, just let me know and I’ll arrange for you all to be able to download it.




      To Craig Caughlin,
      I am very interested in seeing the Mike Rowe video from “Dirty Jobs”.

      1. Mollie Morrissette

        I did a couple of pieces on it over on Poisoned Pets a while back. Watch Mike Rowe skin a cow with a huge hydraulic air hose. It’s awful good – in a really sickening way.

        The Joy of Cooking Pet Food in Hell:

        and – A Dirty Job But Someone’s Got To Make Fluffy’s Dinner:

  14. Pam Grimes

    After 2 years of mourning my sweet Buster, whose death occured while he was consuming Natural Balance Sweet Potato, I am feeling someone may be listening. All of the work you and other advocates have done has become official, by making major headlines and being featured on news shows. Even pet owners and Vets. have looked at me like I was exagerating my concerns. It is sad it takes the news media to give belief to the crimes of this horrible disgrace called the Pet Food Industry. I don’t worry about my fur babys food any longer because they eat food fit for human consumption that I make them. Unfortunately just 2 days ago I had a woman tell me pets should not be feed people food because it could hurt them! Such ignorance still exists that places our lovebuns in some alien catagory. Keep up the good work and I will continue to give out my advice to pet owners whether it is wanted or not.

  15. Jay Smith

    So, we’ve all known that rendered carcasses are used in pet foods for a while now. This time, it was a Sacramento Bee article that nudged the blur that sits in the corner of our eyes into focus — again.

    The question is: what will we do with this knowledge, this time?

    Demand a new standard for domestic dog & cat. Separate the standards for livestock, if necessary, to force the truth that humans — children — handle the disgusting end product of this filthy material.

    That fact, alone, is sufficient reason for all of us to act.

    Contact your state legislators (forget your State agriculture department. This will require LAW). Demand that they require a new standard for the safety, specifically, for dog & cat foods. Not AAFCO — something better. US.

  16. UGADawg

    This is just one of the reasons we switched from an animal based pet food to v-dog, a plant based dog food. Our dogs are very happy on this food; their eyes, ears, coat, & bloodwork prove it.

  17. Craig Caughlin

    I contacted the journalist who wrote this article (see above), and it will come as NO surprise that he’s “too busy” to inquire about what happens to all of the euthanized companion dogs and cats.

    He said, “Thanks for the emails. I have my plate full, however, with stories in my beat areas, land development, transportation and economic development issues.


    For those who’ve never seen it, check out THIS video produced by Mike Rowe (Dirty Jobs t.v. show): and then, once again, remember Susan’s question “Will someone please explain how “a 5-foot-high pile of dead and bloated dairy cows” cooked for 90 minutes can be considered nutrition? Anyone?”

    Craig from Sacramento California

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      Thank you Craig for asking –

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