Saturday, January 7, 2012

Where is the Beef...

When I read this article my jaw hit the floor. While I knew many of these treats where unhealthy I had no idea they where deadly. Please share this with your friends and family. These companies making theses treats are only concerned with the bottom line: MONEY! If we all boycotted these products there bottom line. Stop the poisoning....

Where’s the beef? Read the label on one of the popular dog treats and you’ll be asking yourself that same question. Milk-Bones and Beggin Strips are the #1 and #2 top selling treats respectively and I’d sooner have my dog stick her head in the curbside garbage on a hot day than eat that stuff.

Where’s the conscience of Del Monte and Purina when they put toxins and animal waste in our pets’ food? And they’re not the only ones. Anyone that hides behind “Natural Flavors” on their label instead of telling us exactly what those flavors are (ADI, Waggin’ Train) needs a firm kick in the caboose. Just because the FDA allows manufacturers to do it, doesn’t mean they should.

BHA, BHT, Ethoxyquin, Sodium Metabisulfite and TBHQ.

These are chemical preservatives known to cause things like: cancer, liver and kidney problems, weakness, loss of consciousness, brain damage, and life-threatening asthma. One or more of these chemicals are in the top two selling treats and numerous others. The chemicals also are used to manufacture things like rubber and petroleum products, and embalming fluid.

Treats containing at least one of these chemicals These chemicals are used to manufacture:
Milk-Bones (Del Monte)
Embalming Fluid
Beggin Strips (Purina)
Jet Fuels
Pup Peroni (Del Monte)
Rubber Products
Busy Bones (Purina)
Moist n Meaty (Purina)
Electrical Transformer Oil
T-Bonz (Purina)
Petroleum Products
Ethoxyquin is so toxic that the FDA has prohibited it from human consumption except for minute quantities in certain spices (e.g. cayenne pepper). The FDA, despite the behest of veterinarians, has done nothing but suggest to pet product manufacturers they reduce its usage. Who knows if any of them have reduced it, but Purina still adds it into their Moist ‘n Meaty as disclosed clearly on their label. (See Sidebar about how tough it can be to spot ethoxyquin and other toxins.)

Toxins in pet food

So what’s the deal with all these other chemical preservatives? Sodium Metabisulfite (the preservative in Milk-Bones) is harmful if ingested or inhaled (as in sniffed). It reacts with WATER and acids (like those in your dog’s stomach) to release toxic sulfur dioxide gas. It can cause life-threatening asthmatic reactions after ingestion as well as gastrointestinal, circulatory and central nervous system problems. The people who handle this stuff are required to wear hazmat suits and respirators. And believe it or not, there’s more written about the harmful effects and cancer-causing properties of BHA and BHT than sodium metabisulfite. BHT is actually banned in England. And BHA is thought by the National Institutes of Health to cause stomach cancer.

TBHQ (a butane derivative) can cause death from ingestion of as little as 5 grams. Ingestion of a single gram (1/13 of an ounce) causes nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation and collapse. The FDA puts strict requirements on uses of all these toxic chemical preservatives in human food, but pet foods have few if any requirements and often contain much more.

So what’s the good news? There are many better, natural solutions for preserving food. Dehydration is the first one. Take the moisture out of something and bacteria cannot grow. Ask any caveman. It’s been around that long. And, no self-respecting cowboy would go hungry when he has a piece of dried meat in his pocket. Vitamin E, Vitamin C, and rosemary and sage extracts also make good, natural solutions. The problem for Purina and Del-Monte and others is that dehydration, vitamins and herb extracts are more expensive than sodium metabisulfite, BHA, BHT, TBHQ or ethoxyquin.

Dehydration, for instance, produces a treat with a lower water content (but denser nutritional profile) that hence weighs less. Dehydration also takes time and electricity – which cost money. Since treats are sold by net weight, massive commercial manufacturers want to keep the moisture content high so they can sell you the weight in water. But then they have to toss in chemical preservatives to keep the treats from spoiling.

“Natural Flavors” and Animal Digests

Here’s the scoop on natural flavors and animal digests: the FDA allows digestive tract contents to be processed into animal feed.

The FDA says:

“With respect to flavors, pet foods often contain digests, which are materials treated with heat, enzymes, and/or acids to form concentrated natural flavors. Only a small amount of a chicken digest is needed to produce a ‘Chicken Flavored Cat Food,’ even though no actual chicken is added to the food…” [emphasis added].

“Natural Flavors” and “Animal Digests” are on the labels of these popular products among others:

Beggin Strips (Purina)
Waggin-Train Jerky Tenders (made by ADI Pet in China)
Busy Bones (Purina)
T-Bonz (Purina)
The Goodlife Recipe (Mars, Inc.)
Meat and By-Products

Ever glance at a pet food label and see an ingredient called “meat?” Would you buy anything in the grocery store’s meat section that’s just identified as “meat” on the label? What exactly qualifies as “meat” and “by-products”?

Here’s a hint: The FDA has found pentobarbital (the euthanasia drug) in our pet’s food.

According to the FDA, “meat” for animal feed comes from:

“independent [rendering] plants that obtain animal by-product materials, including grease, blood, feathers, offal and entire animal carcasses from the following sources: butcher shops, supermarkets, restaurants, fast-food chains, poultry processors, slaughterhouses, farms, ranches, feedlots, and animal shelters.” [emphasis added]

AAFCO, the organization that works with the FDA to standardize definitions of ingredients and other things for the pet food industry, broadly defines “byproducts”. Poultry byproducts, for instance can include: “the carcass of slaughtered poultry such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines exclusive of feathers except… as might occur unavoidably…”

But it’s not the feathers – or even the addition of McDonald’s used grease – that’s most worrisome. It’s well documented that the FDA also allows 4D animals – that’s dead (as in roadkill dead), dying or diseased (as in anthrax) or disabled (as in mad-cow paralysis) as well as spoiled or contaminated meat to be used in pet food.

Recall the mad-cow epidemic in the late 1980s? It was determined that the cause of it was cattle (normally herbivores) being fed the remains of other diseased cattle (in the form of rendered down meat and byproducts). Nearly 4.4 million cattle were slaughtered in the eradication program that followed. But in October 2009, Mad Cow disease infected and killed another person showing that the disease is still lingering in the human food chain. So you would think your pet has got to be at much greater risk.

“Meat” and “By-Products” are in these popular treats:

Milk-Bones (Del Monte)
Pup-Peroni (Del Monte)
Busy Bones (Purina)
Moist n Meaty (Purina)
T-Bonz (Purina)
Beneful Snackin’ Slices (Purina)
Wheat, Corn, Soy, MSG, Refined Sugars & Artificial Sweeteners

Ever ask your vet why your seven year old dog is developing all these skin irritations and bumps? Or why she seems to have frequent bouts of intestinal upset? Here’s one good reason: she can’t digest the stuff she’s eating. Many dogs can’t digest wheat, corn and soy and some are allergic to these ingredients. Yet they’re included in food because they are cheap. Next time you pick up a 12 oz box of dog cookies for $3.99 retail consider how the manufacturer can make 12 oz of those treats for under $0.50.

MSG is included because it’s addictive, but like ethoxyquin you probably won’t find it on the label. If you see any type of “hydrolyzed” protein though, it likely contains MSG. MSG is believed to be a big culprit in the obesity epidemic in our pets (and ourselves). More than 50% of US dogs and cats are reportedly obese. MSG can more than triple insulin levels making even the most physically active animals fat.

The FDA says: “hydrolyzed proteins, used by the food industry to enhance flavor, are simply proteins that have been chemically broken apart into amino acids. The chemical breakdown of proteins may result in the formation of free glutamate that joins with free sodium to form MSG. In this case, the presence of MSG does not need to be disclosed on labeling.”

Refined sugars are added to pet food because dogs can taste sweetness. Yet sugar can cause obesity, dental problems and possibly diabetes. Artificial sweeteners are no good for dogs either and some are known toxins. The FDA still allows cancer-causing saccharine to be sold to humans and genetically modified ingredients to be undisclosed on labels. So chances are they’re not looking out for your pet.

Admittedly, artificial sweeteners and sugars can be hard to identify on a label when there’s a laundry list of six syllable words. But this can be our “‘Aha!’ moment.” If we don’t recognize it, should it really be ingested?

Here are a couple to remember: glycerin (aka glycerol) is a sugar substitute and filler, hydrogenated starch hydrolysate is an artificial sweetener with similar chemistry to Xylitol – and that one is known to be toxic to pets.

Wheat is in countless dog treats from the toxic ones to the junk-food treats. Here are a few of the popular treats that contain wheat and/or at least one of the other unhealthy ingredients in this category.

Milk-Bones (Del Monte)
Pup-Peroni (Del Monte)
Beggin Strips (Purina)
Waggin Train Jerky Tenders (ADI in China)
Busy Bones (Purina)
Moist n Meaty (Purina)
T-Bonz (Purina)
Beneful Snackin’ Slices (Purina)
The Goodlife Recipe (Mars, Inc.)
The Cancerous 5 Food Colorings, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Nitrite, Copper Sulfate and the Kitchen Sink

The list of additives from food coloring to artificial flavors and other preservatives is long. But why does there need to be food coloring in the treats we give our dogs.? Has a dog ever turn his nose up at a treat because it got a low score for plating and presentation?

Let’s do our dogs a favor; when we see red dye # this and yellow dye # that, let’s put the box back. It likely contains a ton of other toxins. The Cancerous Five Food Colorings, Titanium dioxide, copper sulfate, calcium proprionate, sodium bisulfite, propylene glycol, and zinc sulfate are just some of those hunks of junk. They can cause anything from gastrointestinal and skin disorders, to tumors and genetic disorders. And that’s just in the stuff humans and rats have reported. Who knows what our dogs feel.

Yellow #6, Blue #1 and #2, Red #3 and Green #3 are linked with cancer in animal testing. These are in Milk-Bones, Beggin Strips, Beneful Snackin Slices, and T-Bonz.

Titanium dioxide is a widely used white food coloring that’s also used for paints and plastics. Some prefer titanium in golf clubs not food. In food, it’s suspected of causing genetic disorders and lung tumors; in the clubs it simply causes humility.

Copper sulfate is an herbicide, fungicide and pesticide that’s also a known toxin no longer included in children’s chemistry sets because of health risks.

Calcium proprionate is a mold inhibitor. How did we get to be more worried about the mold than the chemicals?

Zinc sulfate will take the moss off your roof and kill the grass in your yard.

Sodium nitrite is linked with cancer and its in Beggin Strips and Pup-Peroni. Sodium nitrate is easily converted to cancer-causing compounds (called NOCs) and both sodium nitrite and nitrate have been linked with gastric cancer, esophageal cancer, and colorectal cancer. (Goodness Gracious uses uncured (nitrate/nitrite free) bacon in its bacon cheeseburger treats proving that manufacturers can make healthy and delicious stuff for dogs by simply choosing to do so.)

Sodium bisulfite (synthetic vitamin K also called menadione) is associated with liver toxicity, anemia, eczema, skin irritations, allergic conditions, and more and has been banned from food and supplements in Europe, and by the FDA in over the counter supplements.

And lastly, propylene glycol makes a darn good antifreeze and airplane de-icer, but any vet will tell you in the right amount it will kill your pet.

These popular treats contain these toxins:

Milk-Bones (Del Monte)
Beggin Strips (Purina)
Pup-Peroni (Del Monte)
T-Bonz (Purina)
Beneful Snackin’ Slices (Purina)
Moist n’ Meaty (Purina)
Busy Bone (Purina)
Wolves in captivity live 20 years. Their descendants – our dogs – live only a handful. Cancer is the #1 killer of our dogs; 50% of them die from it by some estimates. The toxins in their food are arguably a big contributing factor.

Our pets have a flaccid tongue; they can’t tell us that the Milk-Bones give them headaches or the Beggin Strips make their skin itch. They just know they’re hungry or they’ve done something good and this is their reward. Wag tail. Show belly. Give kisses.

So let’s make that reward something that they enjoy and that’s good for them. Today is the first day of the rest of your dog’s life. Remember, treat healthy and treat often. But if you can only do one of those things, then treat healthy. Your dog will make up the difference by living longer.

P.S. Do yourself a favor too. Spare yourself the gory details of what “mechanically separated meat” means on the label… Just stop eating the Slim Jims.

About the Author:

Amy Havens is the owner and founder of Goodness Gracious, LLC ( Goodness Gracious makes 100% human-grade dog treats and an all-natural tick repellent, and donates half of its profits to local animal shelters in communities where its treats are sold. You can find Goodness Gracious products in independent pet supply stores and upscale grocers in across the country and online . Amy lives in Marblehead with her husband, Tim, and their two red standard poodles, Grace and Lula.

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