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What Pet Owners Should Know About The Largest Beef Recall

Feb 20, 2008
You have probably heard about the beef recall.The major networks have aired a video provided by The Humane Society showing downed cattle - sick/diseased cattle unable to stand - being shoved with a fork lift into the slaughter area (if you are courageous, link to the video is below).It is extremely difficult to watch and frightening to think that a unscrupulous meat processor would ignore safety protocol and endanger U.S. citizens by processing sick or diseased animals into human food.Pet owners should take special notice of this story - because even though it is illegal to process downed cattle into human food - it is legal and common practice to process downed cattle into pet food.

The FDA considers downed cattle SRMs - Specified Risk Materials.SRMs are known risks to spread mad cow disease and it is illegal for SRM animals to be processed into the human food chain as well as being processed into ruminant (cattle, sheep, pig) feed.It is however, legal and common practice to process SRM animals into pet food.Sick and/or diseased cattle - considered as a Specified Risk Material by the FDA are not destroyed (or illegally used in human food) they are legally processed into pet food.Mad cow disease has already crossed species into cats in the UK and mink worldwide.Are U.S. pets next?

The FDA has considered changing existing regulations - requiring that no SRM materials be allowed in any food - human or pet. The proposal was approved by some and opposed by others.

Approving the proposal to ban all SRM materials is the Humane Society. The following is a quote from a letter from the Humane Society to the FDA. "As the country's largest animal protection organizationwe are deeply concerned about the potential impact of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) on animal health. The removal from animal feed of downers, dead stock (animals that have died on the farm), cattle showing signs of a CNS disorder, and cattle who appear rabies-suspect but test negative would add another important layer of protection since these animals have a greater incidence of BSE than the general population. There is strong evidence that cats are susceptible to BSE and we therefore urge the FDA to prohibit immediately the use in pet food of any SRMs, downers, dead stock, or cattle showing signs of a CNS disorder or testing negative for rabies. There have been confirmed cases of Feline Spongiform Encephalopathy in approximately 100 cats in Europe. Since the FDA is charged with ensuring the safety of the food cats consume, we feel it would be reckless not to prohibit the inclusion of the high risk materials enumerated above in pet food."

On the opposing side to ban all SRM materials for use in pet food was Garth Merrick of Merrick Pet Foods. From his letter to the FDA dated July 28, 2004" ANPR's proposed rule to prohibit SRM's from all animal food including pet food and prohibiting materials from non ambulatory cattle and dead stock from all animal feed creates the below listed consequences of disposal of pounds that previously could be manufactured into animal feed. SRM's in cattle under 30 months of age have been estimated to be 20 pounds per head. In Texas there are four packing houses processing approximately 100,000 head per week times 20 pounds equals 2,000,000 times 52 weeks equals 104,000,000 of product that no one has discussed what to do with. If you cannot render it for feed to be fed to chickens, swine or pet food, then you have destroyed a system that currently works. We are the original recyclers. These numbers are only for Texas; when you consider the other lower 47 states, the consequences are inconceivable as to what the health hazards could be if these products are not processed the way they are currently being done."

No decision has been made by the FDA to ban SRM materials from use in pet food or pet treats.

Do you think SRM materials - sick, diseased, or dying animals should be allowed to be processed into dog food or cat food? If you can stomach it, the Humane Society's hidden camera video is a vivid example of the health condition of SRM cattle. You can watch it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWmAJlwLnQI Notice the downer cattle and then decide if you think these animals would be suitable for use in any food.

I am doubtful that any pet owner would consider a sick, diseased animal safe to feed their dog or cat. Personally, if a livestock animal is classified as a Specified Risk Material - I don't care who has the expense of properly disposing of the material. Just don't put SRMs into pet foods. Pet food should not be used as the recycling outlet for an otherwise un-sellable product.

Pet food and pet treat ingredients that could contain SRM animals are 'by products', 'meat meal', 'meat and bone meal', 'animal digest', and 'animal fat'. Please read the label of your pet's food and treats.
About the Author
Before you put your pet at risk, visit the Truth About Pet Food. Subscribe to the Truth About Pet Food free newsletter and stay informed on the latest pet food news. pet food, beef recall, dog food, cat food
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