Expired meat, diverted from landfills, fed to pets and zoo animals. How’s that for quality nutrition? While I would never feed my pets or any other member of my family expired meat, I went on a quest to find information about the risks of consuming expired meat. What I found, was…nothing comforting.
TruthaboutPetFood.com friend and fellow pet food safety advocate blogger Mollie Morrissette sent me an email regarding Quest Recycling. It seems Quest Recycling manages Walmart’s national recycling contract. Quest Recycling touts “food recycling programs” part of which recycles food waste into animal feed.
From the Quest Recycling Landfill Diversions Innovations webpage “our purpose is to divert waste from landfills.” They have two programs; one is called “Organics” which “seeks to reduce the amount of produce, bakery and deli waste, and expired dairy products” – the other “Sustainable Selections” which facilitates “the redistribution of food products to animal care providers”
I have a difficult time ‘swallowing‘ the name Organics for a expired produce, bakery, deli and dairy product program, however some of this material is used to produce energy and compost (per the Quest website). On the flip side of what most consider organic, part of the Quest Recycling ‘Organics’ program “can channel a percentage of organic waste into a process where the product is dehydrated and put back into animal feed.”
And then there is the “Sustainable Selections” program. The Quest Recycling Sustainable Selections webpage shows a ‘green’ background with images of a bear, chimpanzee, and tiger. “Sustainable Selections is helping companies and organizations produce “zero waste” by making productive use of the excess food that is currently contributing to leachate and methane formation in landfills.”
Quest Recycling Sustainable Selections program pet food division is called (interestingly) “Spoiled Rawtten Pets“. Here’s a link to their Kansas City division Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spoiled-Rawtten-Pets/128777433816006?sk=wall#!/pages/Spoiled-Rawtten-Pets/128777433816006?sk=info
Info from this Facebook page states “Currently acting as a rendering service for a national retail grocer. We service four stores ranging from Kansas City to Paola, KS. Twice a week, we visit our stores and pickup the expired meat products that used to be rendered down into makeup, soap, and kibble-type animal feed. Packaging and all. (Gross, right?!) Instead, this “waste” is sorted and distributed to screened and approved members to feed their pets a species-appropriate diet of meat and bones. We have full and part-time folks, all of whom have seen awesome changes in their furry family members thanks to this program. Excess food is donated to animal shelters, rescues, and 4-H clubs to help curb some of the financial burden of feeding their animals. We help all kinds – from the outcasts and strays on the street to champion show dogs to those waiting for a furrever home. And they all deserve to be Spoiled Rawtten.”
Off the point of this article – something significant needs to be mentioned. The above statement is evidence from industry that expired grocery meat INCLUDING packaging is rendered into “kibble-type animal feed“. Pet food ingredients that could include expired grocery meat AND plastic packaging are Animal Fat, Animal Digest, Meat and Bone Meal and Meat Meal (not meat specific meal such as chicken meal).
Personally, I still think it’s “Gross” to feed pets expired meat in any fashion. But…because ‘times are tough’ for so many pet parents and animal sanctuaries I went on a ‘quest’ to discover what the real risks are from animals consuming expired meat.
A phone call to the USDA “Meat and Poultry Hotline” told me the expiration date is simply the purchase date; “it doesn’t mean the meat is bad that day“. The representative told me there are no risks as long as the meat is handled and cooked properly, however I was not provided with a time frame of how long the meat would ‘not be bad’.
The website StillTasty.com states sell-by dates of meat is a guide for groceries. But according to a report on HuffingtonPost.com, a Brooklyn Heights food retailer got caught putting a new “sell-by” date on a whole chicken. So, it could be that some expired meats are well past original sell-by date. Regardless The Food Safety webpage provided by Iowa State University Consumer Information says most meats should not be consumed past 2 days of the sell-by date.
The above advice is geared towards consumers that will cook meat. To the contrary the Spoiled Rawtten group and Sustainable Selections seems geared towards raw meat feeders. Carole Baskin, founder of Big Cat Rescue, told me her animal sanctuary would not feed expired meat to the big cats she cares for. “We don’t feed expired meat because we think the cats’ diet is the most important factor in good health, but most other places do. My attitude is why take a chance?”
The website 4DayThrowAway.org (in partnership with University of Nebraska Lincoln and Iowa State University Extension) tells consumers in this humorous video to discard leftovers after four days…
BusinessWeek.com in an article titled ‘The Truth about Food Expiration Dates‘ says “Worse, some dates can actually be quite misleading. Few folks, for instance, know when they buy meat, that even if the sell-by date is five days away, the refrigerator at home usually isn’t cool enough to keep the meat fresh for more than two days. Usually raw meat is kept around 30 degrees Fahrenheit, while the home refrigerator’s temperature is set around 40 degrees to keep other things in the fridge (like vegetables) from freezing. So, food safety experts suggest that whether it’s ground meat, or a pound of steak, or chicken, consumers either eat or freeze it within two days of buying.” I commend Quest Recycling for their recycling expired foods into compost material and energy sources, but I don’t agree with recycling expired foods into any animal food. Many thanks to Mollie for sharing her tons of research!
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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