Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Killing Fields Part I

I made a promise to publish the guts, no pun intended, from the many interviews we had on the Summer of Murphy Tour pertaining to the pet food industry even though the actual footage we shot I'm saving for the documentary.

While on Tour I read this article about the recall of Chicken Jerky treats from China.  In it, a gentleman named Tony Corbo with the Food and Water Watch (FWW) Advocacy group was quoted and his comments inspired me to set up a meeting to learn more. 

It was a conversation that would incite such a visceral rage inside me, the embers of which still glow savagely and inextinguishable.   

Back in the late 1990s China was becoming quite the economic powerhouse with an unprecedented and unsustainable double digit GDP growth rate and farming and agriculture was one of their chief industries.  Among other things, they had a bunch of chickens that they wanted to export and here in the United States, well, we love us some poultry.

The problem was we didn't want them.  Not for human consumption anyway because their processing plants couldn't meet up with USDA standards despite the numerous inspections of their facilities and China's numerous attempts to grease our politicians to enact favorable legislation.

'Damn, what we do with all this chicken?', they asked themselves.  And rays of light beamed down on them.. . which ended up being glaring holes in our regulatory guidelines that the Chinese government exposed and exploited.  

Let's Make Dog Food

Unfit for human consumption.  Fuck it, unfit for any consumption, there was a business opportunity there and the Chinese knew it.  

And now, all of us have found ourselves as unwilling and inextricable bit players in this theater of tragedy and absurdity that has costed thousands and thousands of lives, directed and sanctioned by, well, you know who.  

DC... The District of Calamity

You see, the FDA, not the USDA, sets the standards for pet food products though I've since learned from other sources that 'set' is a rather loose term.  It's more accurate to say that corporate industry tells them what they're going to do and the FDA decides whether or not they're going to argue with them through a consortium called AAFCO.  Disclosure - I contacted the FDA for an interview but never got a call back.

So now the millions of pounds of pet food imported into the U.S. from China has grown 85 times over this decade, a reality that wasn't really under the radar of the FWW until dogs started dying from chicken jerky treats.

Through their analysis of various documents that mistakenly weren't redacted, they discovered that the jerky treats were being irradiated at doses up to more than ten times permissible levels in humans.

Nuke it.  Nuke it Good. 

Heck, let's keep making this toxic food product jam packed with bacteria, fungus, and a whole host of other pathogens but expose it to Cesium, Cobalt, or whatever radioisotope of choice to kill off all the bad stuff is their line of reasoning I suppose.

This is where I come in.  We know radiation is carcinogenic.  Shit, it killed its own inventor, Madame Marie Curie.

So how have we let this happen?  First of all, the FDA only has a mere fraction of inspectors that the USDA has and from what Mr. Corbo related to me, inspection times of manufacturing plants is approximately once every ten years or so.

Furthermore, in human food, poultry producers based here in the United States have started building processing facilities in China because of the cost versus benefit equation.  That means they raise the chicken domestically then ship them overseas to process, package, and then ship back to the U.S. for human consumption.

I think I threw up a little in my mouth when we reached this part of the interview since I had consumed a fast food chain chicken meal shortly before.  I won't say which since that's not really my fight.

Them is Us

What are we really fighting here?  It's question and quandary that's kept me unsettled, unsure, and up late for months now following the Tour.

But it's like the life I learned on the road.  When you get too far ahead of yourself from Step One, Step Two, maybe Step Three that's when you start fucking up.

Without exception, every single thought leader, oncologist, veterinarian I met during the tens of thousands of miles I've traveled now for this cause, feels that there is a seriously strong correlation between cancer and diet and nutrition.  But there haven't been any long term, comprehensive, longitudinal studies conducted and that's where I need your help....

Coming up:  Part II.  What You Can Do? 


Jeannie said...

I'm hardly ever at a loss for words with this exception...

Anonymous said...

Livid, absolutely livid!

What pisses me off the most is that we know. Our government knows exactly what is going on and yet...

They get dogs to tote around and have photo shoots with, with little regard to what is happening to their brothers and sisters. They ignore the issue.

China found a way to capitalize off of us and I don't fault them for that. Hell, we didn't stop them. That is what is sickening.

It is bad enough that we have essentially given them an out by not fixing our own mistake but now we ship chickens to them so that they can continue.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for keeping up the fight for our dogs, Luke!! Your Indiana Pack, Jan & Mike + 4.

Anonymous said...

They do it because they can, and it will continue until they can't. Being mad is the first step - well that and throwing the poison in the garbage immediately. I can speak for the clueless (and anonymous) ... We and our pets sincerely thank you.

P.S I love that you're fired up enough to put the word f*ck as a label. I have a feeling that will come in handy. Hope so.

Anonymous said...

So it sounds like the laws are in place, but they're not being enforced. And they're not being enforced because they're not being regulated. And they're not being regulated because...

There's the problem.

The Eilenberger's said...

I have found that I am always on the confused side when it comes to purchasing food and treats for my dogs. After losing my Husky Sam to Cancer in 2010, I became even more aware of the ingredients in what I feed them.

I went totally to a homemade diet that my Vet shot down abruptly because she warned that food I prepared would not include many of the nutrients and vitamins Canines needed. So, she recommended a kibble. I go and read the ingredients on the was Purina Pro Plan...need I say more?
So, I've compromised and feed my dogs half and half. Half a kibble that I feel is good for them and then my own homemade blend of meats, veggies, and fruits.

It is infuriating that our country allows goods from other countries to come in and be sold when they are totally inferior. It's shameful enough that the Pet Food industry puts out such low quality products for pets right here in the USA but then to import in even worse is just beyond understanding to me.

JDRSnipe said...

I wonder about the ingredients used in all pet foods - whether name brands or low cost alternatives or high cost specialties. My Golden Retrievers always had digestive problems with chicken-based products, so I switched to beef-based products from a long-standing major brand espousing high quality. But where does the beef products come from? Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, or other off shore sources that are not subject to inspection? Are diseased animals used for the beef? What about the Hebrew processor in the midwest US that was cited for improper processing of beef products for pet foods? I know that pets (dogs especially) seem to be dying of cancer at early ages when in the distant past, they typically lived for 12-15 yrs or more. What's changed? Probably what we are feeding them, and the un-inspected sources of the products used.

Anonymous said...

Visceral rage, yes. It's taken me a day to "digest" all of this.

The correlation between cancer, diet and nutrition is totally valid. How can it be proved w/out those comprehensive, long term studies? Somewhere out there, global statistics on cancer exist. Sure, the "greasers" and their posses will manipulate numbers, add in other factors (non food/nutrition related of course).

I would bet(and double down)that those countries with low cancer rates are focused on diet, nutrition and lifestyle. Fresh food purchased daily or home grown w/out pesticides. Local and controlled.

Here in the good ole USA, the Amish are commited to living simple, productive lives, with clean and local food. Is this benefiting their health? Perhaps. An OSU study in 2010 showed that cancer rates among the Amish are far lower than in the rest of the American population, not to mention they are healthier than most Americans. It's not a comprehensive, long term study, but it's a start. And starting is hard, but following through and digging in is harder.

Food(yep,pun)for thought.


Anonymous said...

Try using " The Honest Kitchen" dog food in California. I use it for all my Fuzzybutts. And (praise the Lord) they like it. Good stuff.

JDRSnipe said...

There is a new cancer study (using Golden Retrievers) that is being started by the Vet School at Colorado State University. They are looking for 3000 young (2 yr of less) purebred Golden Retrievers, to cooperate in the study of the treatments and possible causes of canine cancer. Do a search for CSU canine cancer study in Denver Post (Jan. 2013) for details. It is a long-term study, so don't expect immediate results - although that is what all of us want and need.