Comment to 'Dirty Secrets of Pet Food Industry'
  • I was going through some archives on my computer and found this article from February 2004. I think it is still worth a good read. What do you think?

    by Mr. Bob Fritz, President of Animal Performance Research Labs. as published in FILATALK MAGAZINE

    The pet food industry has some Dirty Secrets that they hoped you'd never discover, but I'm blowing the whistle on them, and are they gonna be mad. But you're being ripped off and your animals are suffering for it, in my opinion.

    It's been going on for decades. Strong words, I know, but after 20 years studying what's actually used in commercial pet foods these days, I just couldn't keep my mouth shut any longer. That's why I put together this special investigative report. Once you've digested this information, I'm certain that you'll be as disgusted and outraged as I am.

    First things first (or what's not in the food) Judging from their advertisements and pretty photos, commercial pet foods contain choice cuts of beef, fresh grains, chicken breast, meat, eggs, rice...all the nutrition your dog could ever need. The same wholesome quality you eat, right? Wrong: Sounds great, I know, but look at it from a commercial point of view; those ingredients are costly, not to mention more desirable for human consumption.

    They're just too expensive and good for lowly dogs. I've gotten "down and dirty" and checked out the commercial manufacturers and I can tell you (as can industry watchdogs) that none of the big commercial producers use any of the above desirable ingredients in their feeds. The pictures they use of wholesome foods are flat out lies. 

    Okay, so what is in the food? You might be sorry you asked. Remember your mental image and the photos they use of that wholesome healthy food, the beef, the chicken, those tasty whole, brace yourself for a reality check.

    Those choice cuts of beef are really cow brains, tongues, esophagi and fetal tissue that may be dangerously high in hormones. Much of the meat is diseased and even cancerous. Because using that great looking meat means they'd have to actually pay for it, and as you'll learn, pet food companies don't buy anything human-grade.  

    Those "whole grains" have had the starch removed for cornstarch powder and often the oil has been extracted (by chemical processing) for corn oil, or are remnants from the milling process. Those grains that are truly whole have usually been deemed unfit for human consumption because of mold, contaminants, poor quality, or poor handling practices. Or worse, ultra-high pesticide concentrations.

    The last few years alone, dozens of dogs died from aflatoxin poisoning-traced to rotting grains rejected for human use, but just perfect for dog foods. After all, it's only dogs, so who cares? Then, because the manufacturers know that the food is utterly devoid of any real nutrition it is "fortified" with vitamins and minerals. As sick as this fortification joke is, it's made even worse by the fact that the nutrients added are also rejected for humans use and full of their own contaminants.

    Why? Because the ingredients they are using are not wholesome, and the harsh manufacturing practices that are required to produce those cute shapes destroy what little nutritional value the food ever had. It's kind of like depleted uranium-it looks the same but lacks the original zap. Remember, everything in pet food is scrap material from the human food industry. It's unfit, unsafe or condemned for human use. Hello!!!

    So humans benefit all around at the expense of your pet. Pet food manufacturers get great prices on the "waste materials". Hint, if pet food companies don't buy it, it's fed to pigs before slaughter. Human food processing companies save money twice, once when they sell the materials that to them are merely garbage, and a second time when they avoid having to pay to dispose of that same disgusting muck. Is that a great business or what? Hungry yet? 

    It gets worse... If this sounds like some sort of conspiracy, that's because it is, at least in my opinion. It's not by chance that four of the five largest U.S. pet food companies are subsidiaries of the major multi-national food corporations: Heinz, Nestle, Mars, Colgate-Palmolive and Ralston-Purina (who disguises this by having two separate food companies, one for human and the other for animal feeds).

    Remember the Recent E-Coli Scare? It's no wonder that dogs everywhere aren't dropping like flies from e-coli infections. It's testimony to the hardy evolutionary design of our best friends that they can survive given the incredibly high degree of bacterial contamination in the commercial foods we give them.

    Where humans drop like flies with food poisoning, dogs tough it out; but they suffer in their own way, too. According to API, the Animal Protection Institute, the problem is extreme. Parts deemed unfit for human food, include animals classed as "4-D" (dead, diseased, dying or disabled). These animals (which do not meet human-food qualifications) are sent to pet food processors straight away. 4-D meat includes meat that is revolting beyond words: pus-laden, gangrenous "green liver" syndrome and worse. Suffice to say, if you've ever seen the meat that goes into today's pet foods, you would not feed it anymore.

    And when you see the term "meat or poultry by-products" what does that mean? Quite simply, that's what's left of the carcass after human and mechanical de-boning and processing have been completed: bones, blood, pus, intestines, bowels, ligaments, subcutaneous fat, hooves, horns, beaks and any other parts that humans cannot or will not knowingly eat. Maybe by-products should be renamed "bye-bye products". But because of their low cost, they're a staple of modern-day pet food.

    The fox is watching the doghouse!

    The Pet Food Institute (the trade association for pet food manufacturers) acknowledges the importance of by-products as a source of additional income for farmers and food processors. The truth is that most of these remnant foods are not only indigestible, they also provide a questionable source of nutrition for our animals.

    At best. So it strikes me as more than a little ironic that an organization such as this calls itself the Pet Food Institute. Perhaps what it should really be called is the "human food waste product recycling club". At least that would be a more accurate description of their focus and intent. Call a spade a spade.

    Remember the 70's movie "SOYLENT GREEN"?

    In this movie, Charlton Heston screamed "Soylent Green is people!" The story line is they took people who died, ground them up, then fed them to other people in a product called Soylent Green. It was a well-guarded secret so nobody knew they were actually eating other people. Well modern day pet foods are the real life equivalent of "Soylent Green

    The truth is, the Soylent Green process feeds your dogs every day. Though you surely won't find dogs or cats listed as ingredients on any pet food labels, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that euthanized companion animals were found in pet foods. This was vehemently denied by manufacturers; however, the American Veterinary Medical Association confirmed the Chronicle's story.

    Think about it. Do you really believe the thousands of road kills, pets dying at veterinary clinics and animal shelters every day go to doggy heaven. I grew up with TV cartoons showing old race horses going to the rendering glue factory. research leads me to believe it's the same for dogs today. My My

    So how is this effecting my pet? "From his experience as a veterinarian and federal meat inspector, P. F. McGargle, D.V.M., has concluded that feeding slaughterhouse wastes to animals increases their chance of getting cancer and other degenerative diseases. Those wastes, he reports, can include moldy, rancid or spoiled meats as well as tissues severely riddled with cancer. These meat scraps can also contain hormone levels comparable to those that have produced cancer in laboratory animals.

    Dr. McGargle attributed these high levels to two causes: Synthetic hormones routinely fed to livestock to stimulate rapid growth, and meat meal whose source is often glandular wastes and fetal tissues from pregnant cows. Both are naturally high in hormones.

    When livestock is slaughtered and the meat is processed, the hormones are still active. High hormone levels have the most severe effect on cats, which are extremely sensitive to them. The tissues or pellets that are used to fatten steers and caponize chickens, for example, are considered toxic to cats, even in very low levels. These hormones are not destroyed by the high temperature and pressure cooking that pet food manufacture requires.

    And what in the world is that terrible smell? 

    Ever walk around the back of a restaurant that has a fryer? Did you notice that awful greasy rancid smell? You know, the one near that dumpster labeled industrial grease or oil disposal? Ever feel like that freshly opened bag of dog food smelled exactly the same way? You should. It does smell the same. That's because the fat added to most commercial dog foods is refined animal fat, recycled kitchen grease, and other oils too rancid or deemed inedible for human use. 

    These rancid fats are generally sprayed directly onto dried kibble or extruded pellets to make a product which even a dog won't eat more palatable. While certain fats provide the luster and sheen to your dogs coat, the sparkle to his eyes and the extra calories working dogs require, the rancid fats that are discarded by restaurants or are rendered from slaughterhouse animals are not nearly so beneficial. 

    In fact, these rancid fats are being blamed for a host of new health related problems in dogs including; diarrhea, vomiting of bile, gas, bad breath and even severe digestive problems. In puppies and kittens, whose digestive tracts are not fully developed, these rancid fats can cause permanent damage leading to a lifetime of digestion and assimilation problems. Even in foods designed to be less allergenic, such as lamb and rice formulas, rancid fats can cause your pet to experience a reaction. 

    Do you put your dog "out to pasture"?  Of course you don't. Dogs don't graze. And you don't feed your dog wheat or hay or corn either. Or do you? In the last decade, as the populace of this country has moved its diet more and more towards grains and away from animal proteins, the amount of grain products in animal foods has increased proportionally.

    This has happened for two reasons; first, because we are consuming less meat, the amount of animals slaughtered has decreased and the byproducts of those slaughtered animals have undergone a like decline.

    Second, with an increase in human grain usage, grain unfit for human consumption, moldy grain and grain byproducts have all become progressively more available. It should come as no surprise that corn and wheat are far from ideal for dogs or cats from a nutritional standpoint.

    Cats in particular suffer from diets that include a predominance of grain. That is because cats are obligate omnivores. That is, they require meat to fulfill certain physiological needs. Another problem with feeding predominately grain based foods has to do with the grains themselves. Many of the grains that find there way into commercial pet foods have become wet, or moldy or contaminated by a fungus.


    In 1995 Nature's Recipe Dog Food was forced to pull nearly 20 million worth of dog food contained wheat contaminated by a fungus that produced vomitoxin and aflatoxin which is a kind of poison called a mycotoxin that is given off when mold grows.

    Peanuts are particularly susceptible to aflatoxin problems as the fungi which produce it tend to grow especially well on peanut hulls. Of course it probably won't amaze you at this point to discover that peanut hulls are another major constituent of certain commercial pet foods. How could this terrible fungus occur in pet foods. Well...testing, which is not great even for human foods, is almost nonexistent for pet products.

    Was that you or the dog? Nevertheless, soy, which has been known to cause flatulence in dogs, has become an increasingly common ingredient in commercial foods. Another increasingly common reason for canine farting is intestinal blockages.

    The culprit; among others, humectants ingredients such as corn syrup and corn gluten meal which bind water molecules to prevent oxidation - also bind the water in such a way that the food actually sticks to the colon and may cause blockage and fermentation-methane gas. The blockage of the colon may well cause an increased risk of cancer of the colon or rectum.

    Pickled or preserved? Sodium nitrite, butylated hydroxytoluene, ethoxyquin, butylated hydroxyanisole, propyl gallate, tertiary butylhydroquinone and other equally evil sounding compounds are being added to commercial dog foods.  Because when you combine all of the aforementioned toxic decomposed, diseased, hormone laden and rancid ingredients into one product, the only thing that will keep them from becoming so utterly putrid is to lace them with powerful chemicals to keep them "stable

    We might as well be storing them in formaldehyde. And if you think the names of these chemicals sound bad, take a look at the problems they cause; cancers of the stomach, intestines and blood, kidney damage, central nervous system disorders, depressed immune function, liver damage other forms of chronic and acute chemical toxicity.

    Even foods labeled "preservative free" may have one or more of the above chemicals added. That's because the government does not require the manufacturer to list on the ingredient label anything added to ingredients prior to incorporation into the finished food. Thus, when rancid fat is preserved with ethoxyquin prior to arrival at a pet food manufacturers facility, the manufacturer, provided it does not add additional ethoxyquin to the material, is not required to list ethoxyquin anywhere on the label. Just how prevalent are these preservatives in the food? 

    A recent analysis determined that two-thirds of the pet foods produced in the US had synthetic preservatives added by the manufacturers. Of the remaining third, 90% included ingredients that were already stabilized by synthetic preservatives.

    Today, there are more than 8,600 recognized food additives with absolutely zero toxicity information on 45% of them! Of those that have been analyzed only 5% have had a complete health hazard assessment. Many of these chemicals are known to be carcinogenic above a certain level but are still allowed to be added in concentrations below the known carcinogenic amount.

    This is misleading because many of these compounds are not readily cleared from the body and can thus build up to very high levels over time. Ethoxyquin, for example, was found in dogs' livers months after it had been totally removed from their diet.

    Since when do dogs need to be fed insecticide as part of a healthy diet? The answer to this question should be obvious. NEVER! Here's another alarming fact: 60% of all herbicides, 90% of all fungicides and 30% of all insecticides have been proven to cause cancer in and of themselves. Virtually all of these chemicals find there way into commercial pet food via the added grains and meats used.

    Worse still, upwards of 80% of these chemicals, 49,000 in all, have virtually no toxicity data. In other words neither you, nor I, nor any scientist in any lab in the world has any idea what they will do to you pet today, tomorrow or ten years from now. Another recent study found that these same chemicals lead to chromosomal mutations, double-strand DNA breaks and numerous mutations.

    To your dog, this means a greater incidence of cancer and other diseases. To your breeding program, this means lower survivability, mutated puppies and genetic aberrations that will make the pups non-salable.

    Just recently, I received the following notice from the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine: August 14,1997: FDA REQUESTS THAT ETHOXYQUIN LEVELS BE REDUCED IN DOG FOODS

    In letters dated July 31, 1997, to manufacturers of ethoxyquin and trade associations for the pet food industry, FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) requested that the maximum level for ethoxyquin in complete dog foods be voluntarily lowered to 75 parts per million (ppm). Under the current food additive regulations, ethoxyquin is allowed at levels up to 150 ppm in complete dog foods (Title 21, Part 573.380 of the Code of Federal Regulations). However, after recently completing a scientific review of a voluntarily submitted study from the Monsanto Company, CVM has reason to believe that the 150 ppm level may not provide an adequate margin of safety in lactating female dogs and possibly puppies.

    The results from this study show that ethoxyquin levels above the current tolerance in dog foods produced no adverse reproductive effects. There was, however, an increase in a dark, reddish-brown pigment in the liver of female dogs immediately after completing a 6-week lactation. The liver pigment was identified as protoporphyri.

    During lactation, the female dogs consumed two to three times more food as a percentage of body weight than they did at maintenance, and this increased food consumption likely contributed to the increased pigment deposition in the liver and in the elevated serum enzymes. The increased pigment deposition and serum enzymes in lactating female dogs may be reversible when food consumption returns to maintenance, but it still constitutes a finding that must be further investigated.

    The Pet Food Institute has undertaken a study designed to show that ethoxyquin is an effective antioxidant at levels between 30 and 60 ppm in a complete dog food. FDA is closely monitoring the progress of this study. If new information becomes available that questions the safety of ethoxyquin at 75 ppm in dog food, or shows it to be an effective antioxidant at levels below 75 ppm, CVM will consider further action.

    Further information on this subject is available from FDNCVM's Division of Animal Feeds, 7500 Standish Place, HFV-220, Rockville, MD 20855 or by calling (301) 594-1724. I suggest you call the FDA at that phone number. After all, you own both the FDA and those phone lines because you pay for it all through your taxes. The FDA works for you, so start getting your money's worth.

    What is particularly alarming about this document is the fact that the typically conservative FDA is making such a significant, almost radical recommendation. Generally, the data has to be overwhelmingly conclusive before they make such a strong statement.

    The second interesting element to the above is the fact that this report was submitted voluntarily by the Monsanto Corporation. Monsanto is the largest EQ manufacturer in the world. Results must have been alarming indeed for them to have allowed even this much significant data to reach the Feds. Of course, this on the heels of a final and even more alarming piece of information: Ethoxyquin cannot be detected once it has been added to a food source.

    This means you have absolutely no way of knowing if the pet food companies are complying or not. The number of foods to which EQ has been added, and the amount of EQ that has been put into those foods far exceeds initial approval guidelines.

    Monsanto and other ethoxyquin producing companies swear this chemical is safe. Of course, tobacco companies say the same for cigarettes. If Monsanto believes ethoxyquin is safe, then the CEO on down should begin eating it in the executive dining room, and feed it to their children. Come on fellas, walk your safety talk or take it off the market.

    From the slaughterhouse floor to your dogs' bowl...The making of a commercial pet food.

    The first thing that commercial manufacturers do is assemble high-priced teams of marketing MBAs who spend millions to sell their products. They then create a diet working within specific guidelines, the main factor being bottom line profits. Want proof? A glance at any pet food industry related magazine reveals marketing articles out numbering nutritional ones by at least 10 to 1.

    Feeding trials are generally conducted from ten weeks to six months, however virtually no companies ever conduct long term or generational trials. Or safety tests, either. The most important step (as far as companies are concerned) is palatability testing.

    Basically, they want to make sure that dogs will eat more of their brand than comparable brand X. The same food chemistry wizards from these huge multinational companies that brought us Cheez Whiz, Tater Tots and Baco Bits open their trick bags of synthetic color and taste treats. So using commercial pet food is basically like force feeding junk food to your pet year-round.

    All pet foods, wet or dry undergo ultra high temperature processing. This is good from a bacterial standpoint, but nutritionally it's devastating to an already deficient food. Most vitamins, amino acids and virtually all enzymes are damaged or destroyed by high temperature processing. In particular, the "cross linking" of amino acid bonds damages protein values. All in all, in my opinion, regardless of brand, commercial pet foods represent a clear and present danger to the health, appearance and fecundity of your animals.

    Most supplements are even worse! In the attempt to fill the huge nutritional gaps and avoid the dangers of commercial dog food, you may try dietary supplement. After all, human dietary supplements have evolved from the snake oil image into super effective sports supplements-even into products like "Ensure" and other advertised on TV.

    But pet supplements are often made under conditions so bad and ingredients so contaminated they make pet food look positively healthy. Since no organization enforces purity or even the most basic of safety tests, many-if not most-pet supplements are dangerous to animals. This is partly due to the fact that pet supplements use the same diseased 4-D meat and dog food, but are not cooked or sterilized. Meaning the E-Coli, salmonella and other bad bugs are often at dangerous levels-many times over safety margins.

    I personally visited a supplement company located on a firewood lot in Reno Nevada. As wood lots go, this one was filthy. The product was made in an open barn invested with rats, mice and even bats that roosted in the eves. I won't go into the sanitation of the mixer and other rumors swirling around its use.

    So what in the world can I do about this?? I wish the answer were simple. Unfortunately, that's not the case. As a group we can lobby for improved standards of ingredients, control of additives and truth in labeling on all commercially prepared pet foods. The problem with this approach is two-fold. One, we can expect to pay substantially more for pet food if these regulations come to be; and second, it will take significant time for them to be enacted and enforced. Mean while the health of our animals is suffering.

    The other option is to get a group of nutrition and biochemical Ph.Ds. together with a huge budget for research, and almost unlimited resources for human-grade nutrients like real roast chicken, etc. Unfortunately, neither of these is easy nor are they practical options.

    Perhaps the best thing that you can do is feed foods made by a new, cutting edge high-tech pet food producer that's dragging pet food into the 21st century. The approach is radically simple-duplicate wild canine diets, then super fortify the products with the latest, most potent "nutricutcials". The thing that sets this company apart from all others is that it has innovated much of the most powerful and legitimate human natural nutrition over the last two decades.

    These high tech food supplements are designed to augment, and literally supercharge, any food you currently feed. These products are profoundly beneficial in two ways. First, they provide extra badly needed nutrition without the toxicity burden of conventional foods. Second, they unlock more nutrients from commercial foods you are forced to use.

    THERE IS HOPE!! I predict that over the next few years, the same revolution of health knowledge that's occurred in human nutrition will occur for pets. With new access to the information highway, this will occur quite fast. Starting now, the definition of health will change from a mere absence of disease to optimal functioning of all metabolic systems.

    As with tobacco companies, the public will become progressively aware of this violation of our trust. As that occurs, tougher standards and higher quality foods will come into existence. It's about time. Leading the way will be this small high-end company that produces safe, healthy and effective products for dogs and cats today.

    Historically, due to cost of the product and limited funds for marketing, these companies have mainly sold there products to kennels, performance dog enthusiasts and professional trainers, who know all too well the problems associated with commercial foods and the benefits of a proper feeding program.

    APRL is the company I'm referring to. For nearly two decades this organization has been researching dietary strategies for human and canine athletes. Millions of human athletes, and now your pet, have benefited from these advances. Their products have been born out of necessity. I hope that the contents of this report have enlightened you to the tragic abuse our animals are suffering at the hands of corporate America, and that you now have the knowledge and the desire to do something about it. 

    Wishing you and your animals all the best in health and in life,

    Bob Fritz, President, Animal Performance Research Labs.


    • Though this was written in 2004 and published here in 2015, the content of this post is still very relevant today. Mr. Fritz' prediction that the revolution in human health knowledge will lead to improvement in the pet industry. Do you think this has happened?