Animals have become the industrial food waste disposal system. It makes no matter to most of industry what Mother Nature intended them to eat. We just learned of a load of Skittles was destined for cattle feed. We are what they eat.
‘You are what you eat’ doesn’t apply to the animal feed industry – at least the mass produced animal industry. The norm in feeding livestock animals (animals that become both human and pet food) is a high percentage of waste.
When a truck load of Skittles spilled on a highway in rural Wisconsin recently, it made national news. The reason – those Skittles candy were heading to a farm to feed cattle. CBS News shared a Facebook post from Dodge County Sheriff’s Office stating “UPDATE: The Skittles were confirmed to have fallen off the back of a truck. The truck was a flatbed pickup and the Skittles were in a large box. Due to it raining at the time, the box got wet and gave way allowing the Skittles to spill out on the roadway. It is reported that the Skittles were intended to be feed for cattle as they did not make the cut for packaging at the company.”
Mars – manufacturer of Skittles – told CBS News “We don’t know how it ended up as it did and we are investigating.” “Company spokeswoman Denise Young said the Skittles were supposed to be destroyed because a power outage prevented the signature “S’’ from being placed on the candies. She said Mars planned to contact the sheriff’s office and the farmer to find out more.”
The truth is, rarely is bad candy destroyed. It is VERY common for the candy industry (and multiple other industries) to dispose of waste into animal feed.
Cattle are herbivores, meaning Mother Nature designed cattle to consume plant material…mainly grass.
But…from a paper published by the University of Wisconsin College of Agricultural and Life Sciences titled “By-Product Feedstuffs in Dairy Cattle Diets in the Upper Midwest” we learn that cattle are often fed candy, expired bakery products, and even dried blood.
Below are just a few of the ‘by-product feedstuffs’ recommended/allowed into cattle feed…
Candy: “Candy products are available through a number of distributors and sometimes directly from smaller plants. They are often economical sources of nutrients, particularly fat. They are sometimes fed in their wrappers. Candies, such as cull gummy bears, lemon drops or gum drops, are high in sugar content. The upper feeding limits for candy or candy blends and chocolate are 5 and 2 lb. per cow per day, respectively. This is approximately 15% of concentrate DM…and 6% of concentrate DM for chocolate. The feeding rate of high-sugar candies should be limited to 2 to 4 lb. per cow per day.”
Bakery Wastes: “Stale bread and other pastry products from stores or bakeries can be fed to dairy cattle in limited amounts. These products are sometimes fed as received without drying or even removal of the wrappers. The upper feeding limit for dried bread is 20% of concentrate DM. Dried bakery product is a fairly standardized ingredient used by the feed industry. It generally consists of a mixture of bread, cookies, cake, crackers, flours and doughs.”
Blood Meal, Feather Meal, Fish Meal, Meat and Bone Meal: “Typical feeding rates for blood meal, hydrolyzed feather meal, fish meal, meat and bone meal, and poultry byproduct meal are .5-1.0, 1.0-1.5, 1.0-1.5, 1.0-2.0, and 1.0-1.5 pounds per cow per day, respectively.”
At the August 2015 AAFCO meeting the discussion arose of expired grocery foods (the official ingredient name is “Human Food Processing By-Products) – example given was expired yogurt in the plastic cups. Expired grocery foods – often in their plastic and paper containers – are rendered (cooked) and added to livestock feed. An industry spokesperson stated it would be “unconscionable to landfill these nutrients”. Dr. Cathy Alinovi told the committee “3 week old nasty moldy bread – is that edible? I don’t think plasticized yogurt is nutrition and I don’t think cows do either.” She told them children are drinking the milk from cows eating plastic and she brought forward to their attention the true cost of feeding animals waste (which is the cost of human and animal health). The room full of industry representatives laughed at and boo-ed her. Their defense to feeding animals waste, ‘We’re trying to feed a hungry world’.
And let’s not forget about animal waste; yes, animal poo is also recycled into animal food. The FDA states “Recycled animal waste is a processed feed product for livestock derived from livestock manure or a mixture of manure and litter. Animal wastes contain significant percentages of protein, fiber, and essential minerals and have been deliberately incorporated into animal diets for their nutrient properties for over 30 years.”
In 2012 CNN published a story on struggling cattle farmers feeding cattle candy. “It has been a practice going on for decades and is a very good way to for producers to reduce feed cost, and to provide less expensive food for consumers,” said Ki Fanning, a livestock nutritionist with Great Plains Livestock Consulting, Inc. in Eagle, Neb.”
But is it really ‘less expensive food’? Sort term maybe. But what are the long term costs of feeding livestock animals feeds that include high levels of illegal material Mother Nature never intended them to eat (plastic, blood, candy, feathers)? Does anyone of authority (regulatory authority) have a brain that thinks of the long term costs?
For concerned consumers: Purchase as much grass fed beef and milk as you can afford, same for other meats and eggs and fish (example pasture raised chicken and eggs). Do the same for your pet. Some is better than none. Not only will you and your pet be consuming meat as Mother Nature intended, you are at the same time supporting farmers that care enough to feed their animals properly (and treat them humanely).
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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