A 2004 report to Congress provides some startling evidence to pet owners. Compiled by the Congressional Research Center, the 2004 report on the rendering industry told Congress that rendered ingredients containing horrific material such as dead livestock, road kill, and euthanized pets become ingredients in some pet foods, soaps, and even crayons. There must be changes made, someone needs to take the first step towards them.
The 2004 report to Congress titled “Animal Rendering: Economics and Policy” compiled by Geoffrey S. Becker, Specialist in Agricultural Policy, is found in the library of Congressional Research Service. http://digital.library.unt.edu/govdocs/crs/permalink/meta-crs-9085:1 It is the most recent information reported to Congress on the Rendering Industry (according to documents within the Congressional Research Service library). The ‘Introduction’ paragraph explains the little discussed industry; Renderers in the United States and Canada convert dead animals and other waste material into sellable products. “Renderers convert dead animals and animal parts that otherwise would require disposal into a variety of materials, including edible and inedible tallow and lard and proteins such as meat and bone meal (MBM). These materials in turn are exported or sold to domestic manufacturers of a wide range of industrial and consumer goods such as livestock feed and pet food, soaps, pharmaceuticals, lubricants, plastics, personal care products, and even crayons.”
Although this 2004 report to Congress emphasizes the concern of rendered suspect BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy or mad cow disease) materials, it provides the reader with a startling understanding of the rendering industry and the materials they process. The Rendering Industry claims to be the ‘first recyclers’. Their task of removing waste material is disgusting to ponder; however, it is a necessary evil. “Renderers annually convert 47 billion pounds or more of raw animal materials into approximately 18 billion pounds of products.” Besides the estimated 35% of leftovers from each of the 35+ million cows processed for human foods in the U.S., ‘renderers collect and process about half of all livestock and poultry that die from diseases.’ The concern to U.S. and Canadian consumers is where the 18 billion pounds of rendered products ends up.
To provide a complete understanding of rendering, the Congressional report explains the two types of rendering facilities. “Integrated plants operate in conjunction with animal slaughter and meat processing plants and handle 65%-70% of all rendered material.” These ‘integrated rendering plants’ render (or cook) “most edible animal byproducts (i.e., fatty animal tissue), mainly into edible fats (tallow and lard) for human consumption.” Of concern to consumers “These plants also render inedible byproducts (including slaughter floor waste) into fats and proteins for animal feeds and for other ingredients.” To the contrary of integrated rendering plants, “Independent operations handle the other 30%-35% of rendered material. These plants usually collect material from other sites using specially designed trucks. They pick up and process fat and bone trimmings, inedible meat scraps, blood, feathers, and dead animals from meat and poultry slaughterhouses and processors, farms, ranches, feedlots, animal shelters, restaurants, butchers, and markets. Almost all of the resulting ingredients are destined for nonhuman consumption (e.g., animal feeds, industrial products).”
Diseased animals and dead animals removed from farms and rendered into animal feed (including pet foods) is horrifying to consider, and is a violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Federal law specifically prohibits any diseased animal or euthanized animal to become part of any food; human or animal. Even worse, the harsh reality that millions of pets in U.S. shelters are euthanized simply because they have no home becomes magnified ten fold when the information surfaces that these euthanized pets are cooked, and later become ingredients in pet food.
Journalist Van Smith of the Baltimore City Paper told the horrific story in 1995. His article titled ‘What’s Cookin’ provided clear evidence that a rendering plant in Baltimore does indeed render euthanized dogs and cats. ‘What’s Cookin’ still remains on the City Paper website; for those that dare to read it and view the startling photo’s, visit http://www.citypaper.com/about/vansmith.asp. Under the brief bio of Van Smith, are two links to the original article.
My own heart breaks to consider that without a loving soul driving several dogs from a shelter in Alabama to the Humane Society in Tampa, I would not have my beautiful new friend Echo. Echo’s ‘number was up’ at the shelter in Alabama; a kind animal lover whom I will probably never be able to thank personally, drove several of the sentenced to death animals to Tampa, to save their life. Without his/her effort, Echo would not be enhancing our lives right now; I am incapable of stating the ‘other’ obvious of where she would have ended up.
To consider that any euthanized animal, or any road kill, or any slaughterhouse waste would become “livestock feed and pet food, soaps, pharmaceuticals, lubricants, plastics, personal care products, and even crayons” is incomprehensible. To consider the thought that a family pet is unknowingly eating a rendered homeless pet, to allow the consideration that a child colors with a crayon with even the slightest piece of rendered diseased animal, and furthermore to consider that our elected Representatives in Congress were provided this information years ago and did nothing to stop it; there are no words to explain the alarm.
Despite the alarm, billions of tons of animal waste must be dealt with. However, billions of tons of rendered animal waste cannot continue to be processed into pet foods, animal feeds, soaps, pharmaceuticals, personal care products and crayons; Federal laws should have prevented this. There is a simple alternative to this dilemma that has been overlooked by all who should have already acted; bio-fuel. Bio-fuel plants process any organic waste into much needed energy, comparatively cheap and non-dependent energy. Instead of Congress ignoring angry letters from pet owners, instead of families surrendering their pets to animal shelters because they can no longer afford to feed them due to increasing fuel costs (household fuels and gasoline), perhaps Congress can put two and two together and come up with bio-fuel. Bio-fuel plants have been in existence around the world for years, furthermore, they have been successful for years. Risky, horrendous waste materials do not have to be dumped into animal feeds, soaps, pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and crayons under the guise it is too costly to destroy them. These waste materials could instead be used to help consumers, instead of putting consumers and pets at risk.
Every U.S. and Canadian Rendering Facility could be altered to produce billions of tons of bio-fuel, instead of billions of tons of risky ingredients used in animal and human products. New jobs could be developed; fuel costs could be lower than we’ve seen in decades; millions of homes could afford a furry companion again; proceeds could even go to develop thousands of free spay and neuter clinics that would in turn prevent needless killing of pets.
Someone in Washington (and Canada) needs to wake up and immediately realize several things. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act Laws are being violated with pet food; pet owners are not going to forget about it. The euthanization and subsequent rendering of millions of homeless pets has to stop. All animal feed, livestock and pet, should be pure of contaminants; the practice of non-carnivore livestock consuming waste animal material must stop. Bio-fuel plants can not only provide U.S. and Canadian citizens with affordable, non-dependant fuels, but they as well can provide our farmers with added resources. Bio-fuel could help to restore our failing auto industries by the development of bio-diesel cars; more jobs, stronger economy. The secretive rendering industry could come out of the closet, turning waste into a true consumable good. These disturbing issues could be turned around, into a win/win for almost every involved industry.
The evidence provided within the 2004 report to Congress points out, that for at least four years, our Representatives in Congress have been aware of, and done nothing to change the facts that rendered diseased animals and shelter pets become animal feed ingredients. Federal laws, developed by Congress to protect the foods of humans and animals, should have prevented this from ever being a concern. This information will surely anger many; however much anger you might feel about this dilemma, please understand that anger cannot change the past. Pointing fingers as well, will not change what has already happened. We need the future to change; immediately. It is time; immediate action is necessary to stop the rendered remains of diseased animals and shelter pets from becoming ingredients of pet foods, soaps, ‘and even crayons’. While most will accept that necessary changes will take time, until someone of authority has the heart and integrity to initiate the first step, nothing will ever change; hideous and criminal ingredients will continue to put pets and their people at risk. To President elect Obama, the 2009 Congress of the United States, the FDA, and all others, please, take the first step.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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