News 273 views last update:6 Aug 2012

Pet meal backfires in shrimp

With food security becoming a major issue, the problem of global protein scarcity is leading to innovations that may not always fully embrace ingredient integrity. The use of rendered pets disposed of by animal shelters in the US and used in shrimp feed in parts of Asia is one such case.

According to the National Animal Control Association (USA) over 5.2 million dogs and cats from animal shelters and pounds are put down each year. Most of those have been humanly killed with pentobarbital. The remains are sent to rendering facilities

Ann Martin, author of Food Pets Die For, has been investigating the multi-billion-dollar, commercial pet food industry since 1990. She said one large rendering plant in California, West Coast Rendering, renders most of the animals from shelters in California. Baker Commodities, Washington State, also renders dogs and cats in their state.

A few years ago these rendered dogs and cats were being sent to pet food companies and used in pet foods (meat meal). Because of the huge outcry the rendering companies have chosen another route for the disposal of these animals. Martin pointed out that the drug used to euthanize these pets withstands the rendering process without degrading.

Most of this rendered material is now going to China, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Japan according to Martin, where it is used as a protein source for fish and shrimp food. These fish are than sent back to the US and sold to brokers all over the country. According to one report the FDA finally blocked the sale of five species of farm-raised seafood from China because of repeated instances of contamination from unapproved animal drugs and food additives. She feels that it's extremely doubtful if the FDA tested these fish for levels of pentobarbital.

In fact Martin said that the FDA inspected only 0.59% of the seafood imported to the US in 2006, this, given the fact that the demand for seafood has grown tremendously in the last five or six years.

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